Leeds: The Housing City: More people to access Golden Triangle with extra £1m mortgage rescue pot

The number of people who can apply for help with arrears on their mortgage in the so-called Golden Triangle during the economic downturn has been increased, thanks to a £1m boost.

The Golden Triangle Partnership – a unique collaboration between Leeds City Council, City of York Council and Harrogate Borough Council – has massively extended the scope of its fledgling HomeSave Plus Mortgage Rescue scheme.

The scheme, which was unveiled in January of this year, has been developed to help prevent eligible homeowners who are in financial difficulty from losing their homes.

The scheme was previously only open to assist homeowners who fell within a priority need group. Following feedback from the public, it has been opened up to help all homeowners who are in arrears with their mortgage/secured loans as a result of a recent change in their circumstances, such as a sudden loss of income.

This means a single person in financial difficulty and at risk of losing their home, due to a loss of income or unemployment, can now take advantage of this innovative scheme.

Although there have been various changes to the scheme to ensure flexibility and improved access, there are certain criteria which apply: homeowners in financial difficulty and at risk of having their home repossessed should always in the first instance contact their lender.

Homeowners in financial difficulty, and at risk of losing their home, should contact their local council, who will explore all their housing options.

By opening up the scheme to assist all eligible homeowners means a larger number of homeowners at risk of losing their home and experiencing financial difficulty can now take advantage of the scheme.

Other changes to the scheme include a property value limit of £275,000.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“In difficult times like these, schemes such as this are vital to help people who have lost their jobs and have fallen behind on their mortgage.
“By expanding this scheme, we are ensuring that it can help more people than ever before.
“One of the negative ideas we are trying to break down is that the Golden Triangle is full of millionaires – it’s not, there are thousands of ordinary people there who are finding life increasingly tough during this recession.
“This scheme is expanding to help people like that who, through no fault of their own, are being forced out of their homes by harsh economic conditions. It is only right that we help them.”

HomeSave Plus is offered in addition to the products offered under the Government’s National Mortgage Rescue Scheme. The Partnership continues to welcome this intervention at a national level and although there are differences between the two schemes, it is expected that HomeSave Plus will complement the national scheme. Eligible homeowners will have the advantage of applying to both schemes, increasing the options available.

Notes for editors:
The Golden Triangle area is the area between Leeds, York and Harrogate which suffers from very high house prices – leaving many local people unable to afford their own homes.

In terms of affordability, the Golden Triangle area is comparable to outer suburbs in greater London – in addition there are large differences in income levels compared to house prices - lower in the north but higher in the south.

Who is eligible?
• Homeowners who have suffered a recent loss of income
• Homeowners who have a property worth less than £275,000
• Homeowners living in the designated areas of the Golden Triangle
• Only when all available options have been explored and exhausted will a homeowner be eligible to be considered for help under the scheme. Mortgage Rescue may not be suitable for everyone.
• Homeowners in financial difficulty and at risk of losing their home due to a change in their circumstances.
• The local CAB or other money/debt advice agencies will provide advice and undertake a financial assessment.

Successful homeowners will be assisted with one of the following:
• Option One – Equity Loan to clear arrears on mortgage and/or secured loan and future monthly mortgage and/or secured loan payments. This will be for a period of up to a maximum of 12 monthly mortgage/secured loan payments
• Option Two – Equity Loan to clear arrears on mortgage and /or secured loan and to include a lump sum to reduce the balance outstanding on the mortgage and /or secured loan, reducing future monthly mortgage/secured loan payments to an affordable level
• Option Three – Equity Loan to clear arrears on mortgage and /or secured loan and payment of future monthly mortgage and/or secured loan payments to enable a planned sale of a property.
(Please note maximum limits apply to each of the options)

Contact Numbers:
To check eligibility for the scheme - homeowners should approach their local council or Citizens Advice Bureaux or advice agency.
Local Council CAB
Leeds 0113 2224412 0844 477 4788
Harrogate 01423 556699 01423 567150
York 01904 554141 0844 826 9705

For further information about the scheme, homeowners should contact Guinness Northern Counties on 0845 6037604 or the Golden Triangle Partnership on 0113 2475885.

Eligible areas of the Golden Triangle:
To qualify, homeowners will need to live in the Golden Triangle area of either the Harrogate District, City of York or the following areas of Leeds – Thorner, Scarcorft, Barwick, Harewood, Bardsey, East Keswick, Shadwell, Otley, Pool in Wharfedale, Arthington, Wetherby, Collingham, Linton, Bramham, Clifford, Boston Spa, Thorp Arch, Walton, Bramhope, Garforth, Calverley, Weetwood, Adel, Roundhay, Alwoodley, Horsforth, Cookridge, and Scholes

For media enquiries, please contact;
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937
Email: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk