HC Deb 22 February 1999 vol 326 c67W
Ms Buck

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on his discussions with mortgage lenders and insurers on protection for home buyers. [72509]

Ms Armstrong

The Government are committed to working with mortgage lenders to encourage greater provision of flexible mortgage products and better protection for home buyers. A mortgage is one of the biggest financial commitments of most people's lives. Home buyers need to think seriously about how they would meet their mortgage payments if they lost their income. Help with mortgage payments through the benefits system (Income Support Mortgage Interest) is confined to people receiving Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance; most claimants wait for nine months before Income Support Mortgage Interest is paid. Home buyers therefore need better, more effective insurance to protect their mortgage payments against unforeseen periods of financial difficulty caused by problems such as accidents, sickness and unemployment. Following discussions with the Government, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Association of British Insurers intend to announce tomorrow a new benchmark for mortgage payment protection insurance products which all lenders and insurers will need to meet or exceed. The Government welcome this move, which paves the way for higher quality, better value insurance operating alongside state benefits to provide a more effective level of protection. Everyone with a mortgage or applying for a mortgage should consider carefully whether mortgage payment protection insurance is suitable for their needs and circumstances. If it is, they should seek professional information and advice on a policy which meets their requirements and offers good value.