TREASURY – EQUITY RELEASE SCHEMES – 23 June 2005
Dr Julian Lewis: I am a little concerned about the case of some of my constituents who are involved in some specific equity release schemes – involving Barclays Bank, if I remember correctly – whereby if they wanted to sell the property if their circumstances changed, they would have to part with something like three-quarters of the increase in the value of the property. They were not paying interest; they entered into this deal instead. Such schemes have been discontinued, but some people are effectively trapped in homes they cannot sell because the vast amount of increase in the price would go to the company that gave them the interest-free loan against the equity of the property, and they could not find another more suitable property. Are the Government proposing to do anything to help those people out of the trap in which they find themselves caught?
[The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr Ivan Lewis): The hon. Gentleman understands that we cannot introduce retrospective legislation, but we sympathise with people who find themselves in such circumstances. If is incredibly difficult to help people if those transactions were perfectly lawful, even if they have had unintended consequences. The hon. Gentleman mentioned Barclays Bank, and if he feels that it has behaved unreasonably, he should take the matter up directly with its senior management on his constituents' behalf.]