The Treasury Minister has warned “the checks that banks and financial institutions undertake need to reflect changes to individuals’ income” as MPs report of self-employed workers, including taxi drivers, still struggling to find access to competitive mortgages and finance.
Yesterday the Shadow Minister for Education Toby Perkins MP asked the Treasury Minister what recent assessment has been made of the availability of mortgages and credit for self-employed people who utilised the Government’s COVID-19 support schemes.
Minister John Glen MP, responded: “Previous receipt of COVID-19 support should not, in and of itself be a barrier to credit provided that the applicant meets the lender eligibility criteria. It remains important that lenders carry out checks to ensure that they do not lend to individuals in an unaffordable way.”
However Perkins MP was quick to highlight the problems facing taxi drivers and other self-employed works trying to access funds and apply for mortgages. Perkins said: “I take the Minister’s point and I agree with what he is saying, but that is not the reality of what people are finding in my constituency.
“Business owners as diverse as a music teacher, a house renovator and an airport taxi driver have been told that the reason they cannot get a mortgage or other credit arrangements is that they have availed themselves of the Government’s schemes.
“Their businesses are up and running, and it is concerning if no assessment has been performed. Will the Minister get in touch with people at the high street banks and prevail upon them to ensure that businesses with a sustainable track record that simply used those schemes are not penalised for that reason?”
Minister Glen MP responded: “The Government have worked with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and we will continue to work with it and with credit agencies to ensure that those payment holidays have no impact on borrowers’ credit ratings.
“However, the checks that banks and financial institutions undertake need to reflect changes to individuals’ income.
“We do not seek to involve ourselves in commercial decisions. The mortgage lending rates to the self-employed are in line with those overall for the self-employed, but of course I will continue to work with the banks and financial institutions, and the regulators, to keep the situation under review.”
Taxi drivers and other self-employed workers who struggled financially during the coronavirus pandemic were handed access to grants such as the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and local discretionary funds.