To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to amend the rules governing eligibility for assistance with mortgage interest payment to include circumstances where the redundancy of one family member exposes the family to the risk of mortgage payment default and repossession; and if he will make a statement.
Support for mortgage interest is available to those homeowners who qualify for one of the income-related benefits, income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or pension credit. It is an integral component of those benefits. Couples are treated as a single unit in these benefits and if one member of a couple is in remunerative work of 24-hours or more, or has income which exceeds their entitlement, then they cannot receive the benefit. Only those couples who are not in remunerative work and who meet the other qualifying conditions of the benefit can receive support for mortgage interest. This is intended to ensure that resources are directed to where they are most needed and there are no plans to change this policy.
Support for mortgage interest is not the only form of help for homeowners in difficulty paying their mortgages. For example, the Government's Mortgage Rescue scheme provides £200 million to support up to 6,000 of the most vulnerable homeowners facing repossession to remain in their home. The Homeowner Mortgage Support scheme, which we expect to be open for business with the first lenders in April, will help ensure hard working people, including couples, who suffer a temporary loss of income can stay in their home. Both schemes are being led by Communities and Local Government.