To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the safeguards and mechanisms put in place by his Department and the Financial Conduct Authority between 2012 and 2018 in respect of the sale of UKAR loans to ensure that loan holders were able to transfer or get better terms from other regulated lenders instead of those companies to whom AKAR had sold their loans.
13 May 2019
Customers have always been protected in UKAR asset sales. The government and UKAR consider the fair treatment of customers a priority for all asset sales and have always included customer protections in line with or that exceeded industry best practice for transactions of this nature.
Bidders were required to agree to customer protections, which were non-negotiable, before the bids were assessed on price. These protections included: adherence to the Financial Conduct Authority’s principle of Treating Customers Fairly; where customers were on Standard Variable Rate mortgages, purchasers were restricted in the changes they could make to the Standard Variable Rate for 12 months; and, mortgage books that were sold had to be administered by Financial Conduct Authority regulated companies, and no changes could be made to the terms and conditions of any of the loans that had been sold.
In addition to requiring bidders to agree to the protections outlined above, UKAR undertake due diligence on bidders, their proposed servicers and legal title holders of the loans to ensure that they have the necessary policies, procedures and governance in place to treat customers fairly.
The details of all NRAM mortgage sales can be found on gov.uk. Both active and non-active lenders are invited to participate in UKAR sales to ensure a competitive process. In relation to the latest asset sale, UKAR’s advisors proactively invited the top 25 active lenders to participate. Notwithstanding this, UKAR have not received a bid from an active lender that covered the full portfolio of assets being sold.
Whether to offer customers new mortgage products is a commercial decision for lenders and government does not intervene in individual cases.
That said, the government welcomes the voluntary agreement entered into last year by UK Finance working with the FCA. Under this agreement, 59 authorised lenders representing 93 per cent of the UK’s residential mortgage market have agreed common standards to help existing borrowers on reversion rates who are up-to-date with repayments but, because of stricter affordability criteria, are currently ineligible, to move to an alternative product provided by their lender, where said lender is able to offer alternative products.
HM Treasury has also worked closely with the FCA on their Mortgages Market Study and their planned changes to affordability assessments. These changes remove the regulatory barriers which previously might have prevented borrowers from accessing new mortgage deals, regardless of whether they are with active or inactive lenders. HM Treasury will continue to work closely with the FCA once the changes to their rules are implemented, to monitor the impact this will have on the market.