From 1st July the Council of Mortgage Lenders is integrated into a new trade association, UK Finance. For the time being, all UKF mortgage information will continue to be published on this website, and UKF member-only mortgage information will only be available here.

UK Finance represents around 300 firms in the UK providing credit, banking, markets and payment-related services. The new organisation takes on most of the activities previously carried out by the Asset Based Finance Association, the British Bankers’ Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and the UK Cards Association. Please go to www.ukfinance.org.uk for wider content and updates from UK Finance.

Week in Westminster

Published: 5 February 2016 | Author: Michelle Vosper

As announced in the Autumn Statement, the London Help to Buy scheme opened its doors on 1 February, allowing first-time buyers and home movers to buy a new build home with a 5% deposit backed by a 40% equity loan from the government interest free for the first five years.

From 1 April councils will have to keep a register of aspiring self and custom house builders when planning for future housing and land use. To that end, this week the DCLG announced new measures and guidance have been put in place to clearly set out the procedure local authorities will have to take when people wish to register their interest for a plot of land.

The ‘Redfern’ Review set up by shadow housing minister John Healey launched this week. The review headed by Pete Redfern, chief executive Taylor Wimpey, will be looking into the decline of home ownership. The Review team will draw on a panel of advisers which includes former managing director of mortgages at Barclays Andy Gray. The Review has made a public call for evidence, and is expected to report in late summer 2016.

Labour MP Chris Evans introduced a debate on real-time credit scoring, arguing that this would allow lenders to assess affordability more accurately and make more capital available to consumers with lower risk, and drive down costs. Responding, economic secretary Harriett Baldwin confirmed there are no specific FCA rules on sharing credit data in real time, but the general principles followed by lenders when sharing data are set out in the “principles of reciprocity” drawn up in collaboration with the Information Commissioner. Ms Baldwin went on to say: “The government have made it clear to lenders that appropriate real-time credit data sharing can greatly assist in making more accurate affordability assessments… It is worth noting that real-time data sharing is not a panacea. While credit reference agencies are a key part of the consumer credit market and are regulated by the FCA, the information record does not necessarily provide a complete picture of the consumer’s financial situation. Therefore, improving the depth and breadth of the data, rather than the timing, is more important to the affordability of credit.”

During a debate on the FCA, Conservative MP James Cartlidge spoke about regulation of the mortgage market: “what the FCA has done on mortgage rules and on the property market has been for the good. We need prudential borrowing. I am a conservative on financial services and think that we were far too reckless in the build-up to the crunch. If we want fairness, we must recognise that asking first-time buyers to be so heavily regulated, while a buy-to-let applicant for a mortgage faces no regulation and can take out an interest-only mortgage for a huge amount of money, without a key facts illustration that has to be advised, regulated and so on, is deeply unfair.”

Government plans to privatise the Land Registry was the subject of a Lords oral question. BIS minister Earl Courtown referred to the announcement in the Autumn Statement on the government’s  intention to consult on options to move operations from the Land Registry into the private sector from 2017. The government are currently considering the best options to achieve its objectives and no final decisions will be made until the consultation is complete. “A sale of part or all of the Land Registry operations is expected to deliver a capital receipt for the government. That can be invested elsewhere for the benefit of the taxpayer. Where there is no strong policy reason for continued public ownership of an asset, it is right that the Government look at the merits of sale.”

This week’s written questions included one asking about progress on the introduction of longer term tenancies within the buy-to-let sector. And a number of questions on the right to buy for housing association tenants.