More support promised for women who apply for mortgages

New report finds no evidence for discrimination but admits women may have been put off for applying for a mortgage or business loan

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The Independent Online

Women who have been put off applying for a mortgage because they believe they will be treated unfairly will receive more support as part of a new action plan launched by the banking industry and government.

The plans follow a review commissioned by the Deputy Prime Minister which found no evidence that UK lenders discriminate against women when it came to applying for business loans or mortgages, but concluded that women may be put off applying for a business loan or mortgage because of misconceptions.

The action plan will focus on giving women support and confidence to ask for financial help through greater transparency to reassure women that lending is done in a non-discriminatory way. It will also offer more targeted and tailored information so that women in business, or women who are pregnant or on maternity leave, are given the right advice.

It will also work to increase collaboration between government, bank and trade associations to help raise awareness of the choices available to women and reassure them that lenders are committed to treating them fairly.

Minister for Business, Women and Equalities Jo Swinson said: "Banks and building societies already provide a range of support for businesses and individuals but we need to ensure women know what is available to them and that they can readily access help if they need it."

Jackie Bennett, head of policy at the Council of Mortgage Lenders, said: "While gender discrimination in financial services is something of a myth, the perception of it is important to address. It is also important not to mistake responsible lending for discrimination; both men and women should expect their lender to assess their circumstances carefully to enable them to make good, sustainable lending decisions."

Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage Policy from the Building Societies Association, said: "We welcome this report. Women make up around half the population in the UK which makes them crucial customers for mortgage lenders. It is clear that we are dealing with perception here but there is still no room for complacency, particularly in the run up to the implementation of the new mortgage rules from the Financial Conduct Authority. These will see lenders having to ask many more questions of all mortgage applicants to ensure loans are affordable."

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