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Building society boss attacks parties' politics

Building Societies Conference 1995
The Government has deserted home owners and deserves its unpopularity, Peter White, chief executive of the Alliance and Leicester Building Society said yesterday, writes John Willcock.

Mr White said Labour has declared it plans harsh new regulations for the building societies sector, which will also damage home owners' interests.

He said building societies should be discussing the threat of re-regulation rather than the possibilities of deregulation. He warned that because of public disquiet over problems with endowment mortgages and mis-selling of insurance policies, a whole range of regulations could be imposed, including credit controls, minimum deposits, limits on re-mortgages, and mortgage rationing.

Mr White listed a series of government measures which he said had hampered home owners. The latest blow was to unemployed home owners, who will have to wait longer for help on interest payments if they are on income support.

"If the Government is not aware of the devastating effect its policies have on home owners, it is badly out of touch. If it is aware, then it has made a terrible miscalculation," he said.

Mr White said further deregulation in the financial services industry was unnecessary. He said the building society commission's handling of the sector had saved many societies from "over-enthusiastic lending" in the recent recession.

He attacked a recent speech in which Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown said poor standards of advice on endowment mortgages and large numbers of home owners facing the appalling prospect of being unable to repay loans meant new regulations were needed.

Mr White said: "As is so often the case in politics, Mr Brown was not prepared to let the boring facts spoil a good vote-catching sentiment."