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“After the election we called on the government to make a long term commitment to help those borrowers most in need in order to prevent a further wave of repossessions. We are therefore pleased that the housing minister, Grant Shapps, has acknowledged that the risk of repossessions remains high, and has recognised the need to maintain a comprehensive package of support measures that help keep struggling borrowers in their homes.

“Lenders, the voluntary advice sector, local and national government have collectively worked hard to minimise repossessions since the start of the economic downturn, and as a result repossessions have been lower than was initially feared. However, the Citizens Advice service still dealt with over 115,000 problems about mortgage and secured loan arrears in the last financial year (April 2009 – March 2010) – a 21% increase compared to the previous year.

“It is therefore also important that funding for debt advice services for homeowners is maintained, including free legal advice in court for those facing repossession action by their lenders, where it is estimated that immediate repossession is avoided in 85% of cases where people attend court and receive advice on the day.

“We would strongly urge anyone struggling with mortgage payments to get free, independent advice on all their options as quickly as possible (go to www.adviceguide.org.uk for more information and contact details of your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau).”

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