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Reversing changes to Support for Mortgage Interest ‘won’t help homeowners’

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Homeowners impacted by the coronavirus pandemic would not benefit from any extra help if the Support for Mortgage Interest policy change were reversed, the government said.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) confirmed it had no plans to change the Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme from a loan.

Guy Opperman, parliamentary under-secretary for the DWP, said: “The support provided is at the same rate as when SMI was paid as a benefit and therefore the scheme offers the same level of protection against repossession.

“Reversing the changes would not provide any additional assistance to homeowners during the current pandemic.”

Support for Mortgage Interest changes

SMI is the help offered by the government to owner-occupiers in receipt of Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit.

The money helps homeowners unable to work or find work pay the interest on their mortgage, saving their homes from repossession and avoiding the additional cost to the taxpayer that would be incurred in the event of homelessness.

In April 2018 the government changed SMI from a benefit to a loan repayable in full, with interest, when claimants die or sell their home.

Back in 2018, around 100,000 homeowners were entitled to the support but take up of the new loan scheme was slow, with fears that thousands would miss out altogether.

Related: See’s Coronavirus and your finances guide for more information on what help and support is available during the pandemic. 

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