MP for West Dunbartonshire Martin Docherty-Hughes has challenged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to address the plight of thousands of people trapped paying extortionate mortgage rates.
The group known as ‘mortgage prisoners’ suffered after lenders collapsed in the 2008 financial crisis and have since been stuck on high interest rates, unable to switch due to toughened borrowing criteria.
Drawing comparisons with the Post Office Horizon scandal, local MP Docherty-Hughes said it was shocking that successive UK Labour and Tory governments had failed to act.
SNP MP Martin previously led a debate in parliament on the plight of mortgage prisoners, citing the case of his constituent Chris from Duntocher who faces losing his family home of 25 years due to soaring interest rates.
More than 200,000 people across the UK, including 40,000 Scots, are thought to be affected – typically stuck paying SVRs (Standard Variable Rates) of 8.5% or higher. Concerns have been raised by campaigners about the mental health impact on mortgage prisoners who are at risk of having their homes repossessed.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:
“While there has rightly been much attention paid to the Post Office-Horizon scandal, there is another shocking example of Government and private sector collusion that began under the last Labour administration and continued under the Tories.
“Almost 200,000 mortgage prisoners who borrowed with high street lenders such as Northern Rock have become trapped after the portfolio was sold off to foreign entities like Topaz Finance and Heliodor, who have been creaming off extortionate revisionary standard variable rates, essentially since 2008, leaving even those who kept up with payments in danger of having their home repossessed.”
The local MP called on the Prime Minister to meet with him and campaigners, stating that those affected have had their dream of homeownership “taken away from them”.
Responding, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“I am familiar with the situation with mortgage prisoners – it’s something I worked on as chancellor. I know the Treasury and the current Chancellor have been engaging with campaign groups and others to find ways to resolve it.
“It’s not an easy situation to fix overnight, but there are things that are being looked at as we speak.”
A clip of Martin’s question at PMQs (17 January 2024) is available below: