Labour mortgage rescue scheme helps one family

by Stephen Tall on May 1, 2009

Very often when launching worthy initiatives politicans are wont to say something along the lines, “If it helps even one person it will have been worth it.” This is usually a rhetorical device, rather than a statistically exact prediction. But Labour has taken the idea to heart with its mortgage protection scheme – official figures show that to date just one family has benefited since it was launched by the government last autumn. Here’s The Guardian:

The scheme, part of a package of emergency measures rushed in last autumn after months of tumbling house prices, has been “operational across the country” since January, according to the local government department; yet data published on its website yesterday showed that just one homeowner, in the east of England, has qualified.

And here’s what Lib Dem shadow housing minister Sarah Teather thought of it:

Tens of thousands of families will face the misery of repossession and homelessness this year but the Government’s scheme has helped just one household. This is an appalling failure by a Government that is more interested in headline-grabbing than in helping families through the economic crisis.”

It’s only fair to note the Government’s reported response:

A government spokesman said local councils were now actively considering applications for the scheme from more than 450 other families, and insisted it had always expected it to take three months to get off the ground. … With the Council of Mortgage Lenders predicting as many as 75,000 repossessions in 2009, Alistair Darling made a series of changes to the scheme in the budget. They will come into effect next month and should increase the number of homeowners who could qualify.

Schemes such as this do, of course, take time to work; and it’s welcome that Labour is already reforming the rules to open it up further. But the trouble for Labour is that, once again, the reality has been shown to be at one remove from its spin – instead of ‘do nothing’ Tories we appear to have ‘do something, anything’ Labour. Neither approach is the solution.