2.5m at risk of mortgage debt

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The Independent Online
At least 2.5 million people are "at serious risk" of sliding into debt with their mortgage payments if they become sick or unemployed, a report claimed yesterday.

These borrowers could face serious problems because they have no private insurance cover for mortgage payments and because social security support for homeowners has been cut back, it states. Repossessions could rise in the future as a result.

The report is supported by the housing and social policy charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and is based on a survey of almost 900 borrowers.

It found that just one in five borrowers had mortgage payment protection insurance, which covers the monthly interest payments if you become sick or lose your job. Three-quarters of the people "at greatest risk" were not insured and could have to wait up to nine months for help with interest payments, said the report.

It looked at the impact of social security changes introduced in October 1995. Borrowers had "little knowledge" of these changes and only 20 per cent of people knew what help they could expect if they become ill or unemployed, said the report by Janet Ford of the Centre for Housing Policy at York University and Elaine Kempson of the Policy Studies Institute.