Labour Party Conference: Consumers - 'Rip-off' mortgage lenders attacked

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BANKS AND building societies are to be challenged to end the "mis-selling" of mortgages in a drive against "rip-off Britain", Stephen Byers said yesterday.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry said he would summon the top 10 mortgage lenders to a "mortgage summit" to try to secure a better deal for borrowers. "Tories turned their back on the scandal of pensions mis-selling. Our Government will act to stop mortgage mis-selling," he said.

Earlier, the Consumers' Association called for mortgages to be brought within the remit of the Financial Services Authority.

The Office of Fair Trading has already warned estate agents against a number of illegal practices concerning the cross-selling of mortgages, including "preferential lists" for buyers who take out linked financial services. And the Local Government Association said an investigation found 95 per cent of mortgage brokers had breached the voluntary code of practice.

Sophie Gumpel of the Consumers' Association said: "We are very concerned about the quality of mortgage advice people are getting."

Mr Byers also issued warnings to employers paying less than the minimum wage, cowboy builders and companies that ripped off consumers.

"All of us are consumers, it is simply unacceptable to have benefits or hard-earned wages pickpocketed at the cash register, at the bank or by the cowboy builder," he said. "Today we give notice - rip-off Britain must come to an end, the consumer must get a fair deal."