Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

UK Politics

Rescue package 'helps one home in three months'

the Government's £200m mortgage rescue scheme has helped just one household stave off repossession in its first three months of operation, official figures have revealed.

The slow progress in rolling out the measure, which was launched in January amid claims it would help 6,000 families, comes amid criticisms that the Government has failed to follow through on other plans to help people in financial trouble.

Repossessions are set to soar by 35,000 this year, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, putting the total number of reclaimed homes at a 12-year high of 75,000.

Sarah Teather, housing spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said the project's slow start would come as a major blow to tens of thousands of families at risk of losing their home.

"This is an appalling failure by a Government that is more interested in headline-grabbing than in helping families through the economic crisis," she said.

Grant Shapps, the shadow housing minister, said the failure to reach households was evidence of a "punch drunk" Government suffering from weak leadership. "There have been a bewildering array of housing announcements, but some are helping no one," he said. "There are hard-pressed people who were relying on schemes like this to help them through. At this rate, we'll have eight families helped over two years, rather than 6,000 families."

The scheme, which enables homeowners that find themselves in trouble to sell part or their entire home to a housing association, was given an extra £85m by the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, in the Budget.

The Government's Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme, which gives people help with mortgage interest payments, has also been criticised. It only became available to some householders this month, despite being unveiled in December.

A spokesman for the Communities department defended the performance of the repossessions scheme, arguing it had always warned it would take around three months for payments to begin reaching families. A further 450 applications are currently being considered. Calling it a "successful start", the spokesman added that more households had sought and received guidance.