The advertisements will point people to an advice line and a new website illustrating the practical steps they can take to resolve their mortgage repayment worries, as well as contacts for the wide range of support available.
Concerned homeowners will be able to go to www.direct.gov.uk/mortgagehelp or contact the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000 for impartial advice, real life examples of people who have already benefited from support, and to develop a personal action plan tailored to their particular circumstances. People concerned about meeting their mortgage payments, those already in arrears or threatened with repossession action from their lender, and homeowners facing a court hearing will be given guidance on the steps they can take to keep their home.
While this will be a national campaign, extra advertisements will appear in 22 "hotspots" – areas facing a greater risk of increased repossessions due to higher levels of unemployment and numbers of court orders.
John Healey said:
"When homeowners are under pressure and feel their finances are spiralling out of control, the worst thing they can do is bury their heads in the sand. I want them to know that sensible, impartial advice is available online or over the phone so they are able to arm themselves with the facts and take control.
"In most cases where people seek help they are able to keep their home, so we have made sure a range of support is available to them – whether free debt advice or help with interest payments, a request for lenders to show greater tolerance and understanding to those in arrears, on-the-day legal advice for those facing court hearings or, for the most vulnerable households, the Mortgage Rescue Scheme.
"The action we’ve taken means we’ve seen recent drops in the numbers of repossessions, but there’s no room for complacency. The message of today’s campaign is clear: it’s your home – let’s keep it that way. The adverts will appear across the country, and particularly in those 22 most at risk, to reassure people that they are not alone, and that help is out there at every step of the way."
Latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show there were 11,400 repossessions between April and June this year, a 10 per cent drop on the previous quarter. But over a quarter of these repossessions were voluntary – homeowners who have fallen into mortgage arrears but rather than seek help available from Government or their lender, have instead handed in the keys or abandoned their home.
The CML welcomed the launch of the new campaign. It said the information campaign, which seeks to help borrowers stay in their homes by taking control of their payment problems, reinforces key messages from lenders to mortgage customers:
– Don’t ignore the problem.
– Get help by talking to your lender.
– It’s never too early to contact your lender to talk about your worries.
Endorsing the launch of the campaign, the CML’s director general Michael Coogan said:
"We welcome this additional initiative by the government to remind borrowers to speak to their lender at the earliest possible opportunity, and preferably as soon as they think they might miss a payment. Avoiding possession is as important to lenders as it is to borrowers, and an early warning will help reduce the risk of this worst-case outcome.
"Most customers who are committed to resolving their problems and working with their lender can successfully manage their way through a period of short-term payment difficulty and avoid possession
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