Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to assist mortgage-holders on variable rates, whose mortgages have increased significantly since the September 2022 Growth Plan by requiring lenders to (a) extend the repayment term and (b) reverse such increases made following the announcement of that Plan. 
[Due for Answer on 20 December]
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (John Glen): The pricing and availability of loans is a commercial decision for lenders in which the Government does not intervene. However, HM Treasury is regularly in contact with mortgage lenders on all aspects of their mortgage business to understand their position and current lending conditions, including most recently at a roundtable hosted by the Chancellor. At this roundtable, the Chancellor made clear that he expects every lender to live up to their responsibilities and support any mortgage borrowers who are finding it tough right now.
It is important to note that around 75% of residential mortgage borrowers are on fixed-rate deals and therefore shielded from interest rate rises in the near term. If mortgage borrowers do fall into financial difficulty, FCA guidance requires firms to provide support through tailored forbearance options, which can include a term extension if that is deemed to be within the borrower’s best interests.
The Government has also taken a number of measures aimed at helping people to avoid repossession, including offering Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loans for those in receipt of an income-related benefit. It was announced at Autumn Statement that, from spring 2023, the Government will allow those on Universal Credit to apply for an SMI loan to help with interest repayments after three months, instead of nine. We will also abolish the zero earnings rule to allow claimants to continue receiving support while in work and on Universal Credit. In addition, the Government offers mortgage borrowers protection in the courts through the Pre-Action Protocol, which makes clear that repossession must always be the last resort for lenders.
More broadly, the Government has taken decisive action to support households across the UK through the cost-of-living challenges ahead, whilst remaining fiscally responsible. In addition to the £37 billion of support for the cost of living already announced for 2022-23, the Government has announced further support for next year designed to target the most vulnerable households. This cost-of-living support is worth £26 billion in 2023-24, in addition to benefits uprating, which is worth £11 billion to working age households and people with disabilities. The Government is also continuing to provide support to all households through the Energy Price Guarantee, which will save the average UK household £500 in 2023-24.