A round-up of parliamentary business the week beginning 20 October:
“Many lenders appear to be approaching the [mortgage market review] rules in a way that is against the spirit set out by the FCA”, according to Treasury minister Lord Newby. Answering oral questions in the Lords on lending into retirement, Lord Newby said, “there is a problem with how banks deal with older people who are looking to move…the mortgage market review suggested that banks should have some discretion in those circumstances so that people would be able to remortgage on the same terms that they had before, but unfortunately, as in a number of other cases, the banks are interpreting this in a very rigid way, which is undoubtedly disadvantaging some people.”
The shadow chancellor attempted to calm fears about Labour’s mansion tax proposals this week, following concerns that asset rich, cash poor households would be hit by the proposals. In an article in the Evening Standard, Ed Balls announced that the tax will cost around £250 a month for someone in a home worth between £2 and £3 million, and anyone on an income below £42,000 will be allowed to defer payment of the charge until the property changes hands.
The Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration have published updated guidance for landlords affected by the introduction of right to rent immigration checks on new tenancy agreements starting on or after 1 December 2014.
Conservative MP for Chesham and Amersham Cheryl Gillan introduced a debate on compensation for those adversely affected by HS2. Mrs Gillan described the compensation arrangements as in adequate saying that some of her constituents are “trapped and unable to move on with their lives”, She called on the government to introduce fairer arrangements. Transport minister Robert Goodwill outlined the various packages that have already been announced, and confirmed that the outcome of consultations on changes to the voluntary purchase offer and the ‘need to sell’ scheme will be announced later this year. He concluded: “I am confident that the compensation package, once fully in place alongside the protections already available through the compensation code, will perform well against those criteria.”
During committee stage debate on the Consumer Rights Bill, peers discussed an amendment table by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town which would “ensure that financial services have a duty of care to their consumers collectively, as well as a one-to-one basis for their clients”. Baroness Hayter referred to her experience on the Financial Services Consumer Panel where she “witnessed countless examples of financial providers of financial providers acting completely without the fiduciary duty towards their customers”. In particular, the examples cited by the Baroness were interest-only mortgages, high loan-to-value mortgages and high loan-to-income mortgages. Responding, the minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said the government did not consider that the amendment would make a “real difference for consumer or add very much to what the government are already doing”, and went on to explain the new regulatory structure and the remits if the various bodies involved. Unconvinced, Baroness Hayter reluctantly withdrew her amendment.
The Institute for Government has published a new report, Housing That Works for All - The Political Economy of Housing in England. The report looks at the problems of housing affordability, and presents evidence which suggests the risk of planning decision being distorted in favour of home owners is real and economically significant.
The College of Commissioners proposed by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has been confirmed by the European Parliament. The new Commission, including the new financial services Commissioner Lord Hill, will formerly take office on 3 November 2014.
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