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Mortgage Market

Volume 734: debated on Tuesday 13 June 2023

(Urgent Question): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of developments in the mortgage market in recent days.

The Government recognise the anxiety that people feel about mortgages, and are using the tools at their disposal to limit the rise in rates. We are not an outlier in this regard: as Opposition Members will know, central banks around the world are raising interest rates to combat high inflation driven by the pandemic and Putin's war.

Given that inflation is the No. 1 enemy, we are focused on delivering the Prime Minister’s pledge to halve it this year. Nevertheless, I know that mortgage rates and the availability of mortgages are a concern right now. Mortgage arrears and repossessions remain below pre-pandemic levels, but if a borrower falls into financial difficulty, guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority requires firms to offer tailored support and to deal with customers fairly. The Government also offer loans to help eligible homeowners to cover the interest on their mortgages through the support for mortgage interest scheme from the Department for Work and Pensions, and make it clear that repossession must be a last resort for lenders through the pre-action protocol.

As long as economic challenges exist, we will continue to stand by families. To date, Government support to help households with rising bills in 2022-23 and 2023-24 totals £94 billion. That is equivalent to an average of £3,300 per household, as well as a record 9.7% increase in the national living wage, which I am sure that the Opposition support. While we are taking action to halve inflation and help families, the Opposition would make it all worse. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has been clear that Labour’s £28 billion a year borrowing plan would risk even higher interest rates and higher inflation, and even the shadow Chancellor has admitted that its position is reckless. This is a Government on the side of the British people and that is why, as we shelter people from rising prices, our task remains getting inflation down and getting the economy growing and debt falling.

The UK’s homeowners are under increasing financial stress, with two-year fixed rates at 5.86%—up by over 0.5% in just a month—products being withdrawn, and the Resolution Foundation saying that the average mortgage holder is facing an increase in payments of £2,300 this year. This is not just about homeowners; it is about renters too, because the landlords they rent from are also facing increased borrowing costs and that in turn is forcing up rents.

All this pressure was multiplied by the irresponsible decision of the Conservative Government last year to use the country for a giant economic experiment that put booster rockets under mortgage rates. While they enacted their teenage right-wing pamphlet fantasies, using the country like lab rats, homeowners and renters were left to pay the price. Since then, because inflation in the UK has been higher for longer than in many similar economies, the expectation is that interest rates will be higher for longer too, and that is what is driving up mortgage rates and piling on the pressure.

While the Ministers responsible rack up speaking fees around the world, the British public are still paying the price for the economic irresponsibility and recklessness of the Conservative party. Will the Economic Secretary now apologise for the Conservative mini-Budget last September and the lasting effect it has had on homeowners and renters around the country? Will the Government take responsibility for the decisions that they made and the consequences that followed, or is it, as they always claim, someone else’s fault? Now, instead of trying to help hard-pressed homeowners, the Conservatives are fighting like rats in a sack over an honours list and a disgraced Prime Minister. It is clear that they cannot focus on the problems of the country; the only way to do that is to change the Government and let them fight it out in opposition.

We enjoy, as ever, the hon. Member’s rhetoric, but he did not address what his plan would be. He also did not acknowledge that this has an international factor. Perhaps he or one of his colleagues would like to explain why we have seen similar interest rate increases in the USA, where the 30-year rate—the market is somewhat different there—has increased from 4% at the start of 2022 to more than 6% today.

In fairness, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) is right honourable. But there we are. I call the Chair of the Select Committee.

The Government have given the Bank of England the task of targeting inflation at 2%, and our Committee has regularly held the Bank of England Governor’s feet to the fire over its performance on that inflation target. Mortgage rates have been increasing because inflation has been higher for longer than expected. In fact, the Governor said in his evidence to our Committee last November that from now on, our grumpy constituents who are having to pay higher mortgage rates should complain to him rather than to the Government. Will the Economic Secretary endorse the Treasury Committee’s campaign to ask the banks why, instead of just raising mortgage rates on the day the Bank of England raises rates, they do not also increase the savings rates that are paid to our constituents?

The independent Governor of the Bank of England is, of course, right. Today we have seen strong print on wage growth, in part due to the 9.7% increase in the national living wage, on which I hope Members will join me in congratulating the Government. My hon. Friend is, as ever, right to highlight the impact on savers. It is important to me and to this Government that savers get a fair deal, which is one of the reasons why National Savings and Investments continues to offer savers an attractive range of products in the market.

Millions of households are now struggling as their fixed-rate mortgages end and they are moved to much higher variable rates. We also know that only a third of the households that are expected to move from cheap fixed-rate deals have done so, so there is a great deal of pain to go, with 116,000 households a month coming off fixed-rate deals.

Some in the City are suggesting that what we are seeing is a complete reset of the mortgage market, which would imply that there should be a complete reset of the Government’s approach. Given that changes to mortgage rates are driven by changes to the base rate, and that the base rate is the central bank’s primary tool to meet the 2% inflation target handed to it by the Government, what discussions have the Government had with the Governor of the central bank about the effectiveness, or the appropriateness, of an inflation target being the primary target that the central bank works towards?

At his spring statement, the Chancellor was very clear about the Bank of England’s continued remit, beyond which it remains operationally independent. It has been a long-standing feature of this House that Treasury Ministers do not tell the Bank of England how to run monetary policy. Three of the Prime Minister’s five priorities are getting the economy growing, reducing debt and halving inflation.

That is very kind, Mr Speaker.

I pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie) for the previous question, which was extremely interesting and perceptive. Of course, it should escape nobody’s attention that, today, gilt yields are higher than they were when my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss) was forced from office in the autumn. I agree entirely with the Minister that it is important to avoid the inflaming of inflation that the Opposition would do, but does he also agree that ultra-low interest rates cannot be seen as the sole benchmark of economic success and that we ought to aspire to higher trend growth as much as low interest rates?

I add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend, who is right that a stable fiscal environment and the lowest possible interest rates are two ingredients and prerequisites for success, but so, too, is a supply-side economy that works to support growth and having the most competitive fiscal environment, which is one reason why the Chancellor has asked the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to look at public sector productivity, with a view to achieving that.

To hear the Minister talk about a stable economic environment after the disaster of the mini-Budget and the catastrophe it caused in the bond markets takes some cheek. I commend his cheek, because it is unbelievably cheeky.

Does the Minister acknowledge that households have shelled out over £1 billion in extra mortgage payments since the Government’s disastrous mini-Budget? Does he also realise it is estimated that, in the next two years, £9 billion will have to be shelled out by those with mortgages because of his party’s economic mismanagement? Is he proud of that record?

It may cause the hon. Lady some distress, but I am enormously proud of the £94 billion the Government have provided to support households in these difficult times. I am proud, too, of the Government’s response to the covid pandemic and to Ukraine—would it ill behove any Opposition seeking office to mention those things a little more when talking about the economy? Above all else, I am enormously proud that when any Conservative Government leave office they do not leave notes behind saying, “Dear Chief Secretary, I am afraid to tell you that there is no money left.”

My right hon. Friend—I congratulate him as well—is right to say that one factor is the level of Government borrowing. This Government have had to borrow unprecedented amounts due to the covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and to provide households with that support of about £3,300 over this year and last. That is one reason why one of our key priorities is to reduce the level of debt.

The Minister likes to point out, as he has done again, that this is about international factors and covid—there are lots of other reasons given. However, the Government fail to mention the mini-Budget fiasco caused by the previous Chancellor and the former Prime Minister, with its direct consequence of mortgage increases, with millions of people suffering. Why does the Economic Secretary not come clean on this, as the former Prime Minister and former Chancellor, who presided over that chaos, have done? It is not time that he stopped whitewashing and faced the reality of what he and his Government are responsible for, which is causing misery to people’s lives?

The hon. Lady needs to look at the facts and the numbers. Despite moving in alignment with other international markets—and interest rates have increased over time—interest rates even today for mortgage holders are lower than those reached in October last year. So we are dealing with a macroeconomic international trend, which we are seeing across all western economies. We are moving in alignment with them, but this Government will always prioritise support for households, which is one reason why we have come forward with such significant economic packages in the past two years.

I would love to be able to pass on some good news to my constituents about their households bills. We are seeing wholesale energy costs fall but they are not being translated to the consumer. So how long after inflation falls will we see interest rates come down?

My hon. Friend is a diligent champion for his constituents in Bracknell and I am sure it will not be too long before he has good news to talk about on prices that consumers face. We have seen the cost of fuel coming down and as we achieve the Prime Minister’s objective of halving inflation this year, so some of the cost of living pressures that his constituents face will abate. In the meantime, he should know that this Government are on the side of households and we have been willing to support them to the tune of about £3,300 every year. I wish his constituents all the best.

Interest rates are up and mortgage deals are being pulled left, right and centre, yet the Minister has had to be dragged here to answer this urgent question. Will the Government please refocus on this mortgage crisis, rather than on the latest round of Conservative infighting, and give the public the reassurance they desperately need?

I can give the hon. Lady the reassurance that the wellbeing of the nation’s mortgage holders, savers, pensioners and investors is the whole of my focus, as it is of all of my colleagues on the Treasury Bench. As Members on both side of the House will know, it is a feature of the UK mortgage market that from time to time mortgage deals are withdrawn from the market and repriced. As of now, there are more than 5,000 mortgage offers from different suppliers, at different tenures, in the market. It remains my focus to ensure that those who seek to buy a first home or to remortgage their home have the most competitive offers available.

One of the biggest challenges facing our country is the inability of young people to afford to buy a home because of inflated house prices. Although recent interest rate rises have compounded the problem, is not the real problem that interest rates were far too low for far too long, turning savers away from saving and into property investment instead, and thus pushing up the price of property as an asset? Does my hon. Friend agree that this is not an easy problem to solve, but that one possible answer would be for local authorities to build homes that can be bought at a reduced rate, not by investors, but by local young people?

I thank my hon. Friend who does a wonderful job of advocacy for her constituents, including those who seek to buy their first home. This Government, through a variety of measures to support householders in general, have helped more than 800,000 people, of all types, to purchase a property since 2010. That represents a city of approximately the size of Liverpool, such is the scale of the endeavours. It is of course important that we get the nation building, and part of that is about providing the economic stability whereby people are willing to make investments for the longer term.

The Government’s economic mismanagement has caused low growth, soaring food bills and record mortgage costs. Millions of hard-working people are being penalised for getting a foot on the housing ladder, in places such as Mid Bedfordshire, the area with the third highest share of mortgage holders in the country. The Minister mentioned the support from the mortgage interest scheme. [Interruption.] In this time of hard-pressed families, will his Government commit to converting that from a loan to a grant?

I did not hear fully what the Member for Richmond Park aligned with Mid Bedfordshire was saying, but I am sure that residents in Mid Bedfordshire have welcomed the stability that we have brought to the economy and the fact that we have supported householders through the past two difficult years, making tough decisions and supporting households to the tune of about £3,300. They will also have welcomed the fact that we have the sort of responsible stewardship of the economy that means that we are not a Government who have historically left power with unemployment higher than when we arrived, leaving notes saying, “There is no money left.”

My hon. Friend is correct to highlight that we are facing international challenges and that monetary policy is the responsibility of the independent Bank of England. However, does he agree that Labour’s £90 billion-worth of unfunded spending commitments would make inflation and the cost of borrowing even worse?

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for wonderful Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr French) for that. I recall that last October Opposition Members were never shy of citing the Institute for Fiscal Studies, but they do so much less today, because the IFS has said that Labour’s £28 billion borrowing plan would cause both interest rates and inflation to rise. I do not see how that would help the nation’s mortgage holders.

The value of mortgage arrears has risen by a troubling 10% in the past quarter, so what is the Minister’s assessment of the likely level of arrears in the next quarter?

I talked about the focus on the level of mortgage arrears, which are at an historic level. My Treasury colleagues and I are tracking them extremely closely. We have talked to all the lenders and the Chancellor has brought them all in to ensure that they have responsible policies in place so that repossessions are a last resort.

Does the Minister agree that although the Opposition like to blame the Government for this situation, the real problem lies with covid and the Bank of England? The Bank kept on putting money into the economy when the world had stopped producing everything, which meant that there was more money and fewer goods, and so inflation was obviously going to rise. Does he also agree that even though we are in this situation where the Bank is trying to do what it is doing and the Government are doing everything they can, continually putting up interest rates puts people in a really difficult position? Does he believe that we should see what the interest rate increases have done so far in the economy before the Bank of England keeps putting them up month on month?

My hon. Friend speaks wisely and regularly on behalf of his constituents. I will not follow him quite so far as to comment on what the Bank of England should do next.

Just in response to the previous question, Mr Speaker, the level of arrears in residential mortgages, as reported by the FCA, was 0.8% compared with 3.3% back in 2009.

The Resolution Foundation has estimated that around 1.6 million households will see their fixed-rate deals come to a conclusion before the first quarter of 2024 and, therefore, will obviously feel the impact of increased rates. What is the Treasury’s assessment of the impact that this hit to households’ disposable incomes will have on the wider economy?

We all want interest rates to fall as rapidly as possible. The Bank of England needs to conduct its monetary policy against the target that the Chancellor has set. The Government need to do everything we can to try to reduce the level of debt by controlling our spending, even when that creates difficult decisions for us to make. We will do that so that the day when interest rates fall comes more quickly. In the meantime, this Government are trying to shield households from the pressures of the cost of living, which is why we have deployed that £94 billion this year and last.

Does my hon. Friend see any consistency in the Opposition’s analysis that suggests that the primary cause for interest rate rises is unfunded borrowing, while making significant unfunded borrowing pledges themselves? Will he continue his focus on fiscal discipline and ensure that Government support is targeted at those who need it most in this period of astonishing international instability?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: the last thing that the economy needs at the moment is any party coming forward with more unfunded spending cuts. It is why the Institute for Fiscal Studies has raised concerns about an increase in interest rates and inflation if Labour were to come to power and spend an additional £28 billion, which I believe even the shadow Chancellor herself has confessed would be reckless.

When would the Minister say the Tory party gave up being the party of home ownership? Was it when it crashed the economy last autumn, or was it when it scrapped house building targets?

The hon. Lady is, I am afraid, completely incorrect. The Conservative party is absolutely on the side of home ownership. It is why we have always supported the right to buy, in the face of opposition not just from the Labour party but from Labour-controlled local councils. It is also why we continue to have a wide range of schemes in the market to help first-time buyers.

Santander is the latest major bank to temporarily pull its mortgage deals for new borrowers, just days after HSBC did the same. The Minister shrugs his shoulders as if to say that there is nothing to see here, but is it not the truth that this degree of turbulence is not normal, that inflation is significantly worse here than in Europe and the United States, and that ordinary people across the country will look at his denials today and wonder what planet he is living on?

I honestly think that contribution from the hon. Member is unworthy. I would not go so far as to ask her to withdraw it, but if she looks at my comments she will see that I absolutely understand the anxiety that people have about their mortgages. It is a very significant part of people’s household finances. That is why we are using all the tools at our disposal: both providing public spending to protect and shield households at this difficult time, and making the tough decisions to get the economy growing again and to keep debt under control, which is the action that will result in interest rates falling sooner.

People from Luton have moved into Mid Bedfordshire to get on to the housing ladder or to raise their families. [Interruption.] It is true. Due to this Conservative Government’s economic failure, they are now facing soaring mortgage repayments, and we are even seeing banks withdrawing mortgage deals for new borrowers. How can voters trust the Government and the Conservatives to address the mortgage crisis when they are the ones who caused it?

I am deeply intrigued by the concept that the hon. Lady’s constituents have hitherto been moving to the neighbouring Conservative-held seat of Mid Bedfordshire. Perhaps they recognise the better economic potential—the better opportunity to bring down rates as a result of our making the tough choices. Perhaps they welcome the sheer amount of support that we have provided for homebuyers. I wish her constituents well and hope that those who have moved to Mid Bedfordshire enjoy their next Conservative Member of Parliament.

The Minister claims that the current economic climate is down to the world economic situation, but in the next breath he claims that if, at some unspecified date in the future, things get better, that would be down to the Government. Over the recent period, mortgage borrowers have contributed an extra £1 billion in interest rates. Over the next couple of years, they are predicted to contribute £9 billion. The previous Prime Minister has apologised for her contribution to that, so why will he not do the same?

In fairness, it is absolutely the case that these are largely international factors. The job of the Government is to control the variables within their control. The primary thing that they can do is not to come forward with greater unfunded spending promises as that would put more pressure on the public purse and would lead to interest rates and inflation being higher for longer. That is what is within our controllable domain and that is what we are focused on. I am not worried about where the credit accrues or otherwise; what I am worried about is trying to reduce interest rates for ordinary people at the earliest opportunity.

The Minister talks about Government support and bandies about some big numbers, but does he understand that the effect of that for people is like taking a watering can to the economic bin fire that his Government set alight? Does the Minister have the humility to apologise right now to my constituents who are struggling? The mortgage rate rises might be the straw that breaks their backs—some are already broken—following as they do on the Government’s endeavours in terms of the mini-Budget and Brexit, which have fuelled this economic crisis.

I thank the hon. Member for his question. It must have been quite hard to get through all those points without once mentioning the fact that this has an international dimension. There is a war on European soil in Ukraine, and we have just come through an unprecedented global pandemic. He simply tries to reduce this to whatever is his party’s particular topic of the day. That is not worthy of him when we are trying to have a proper economic debate.

The Minister claims to be shielding families. He evidently is not going to say sorry. When everybody in this House is supporting their constituents, we need to know what assessment the Department has made of the number of people actually affected by recent increases in mortgage rates.

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Like others, the FCA has talked about the number of people in any one year whose mortgages are repriced. We do not know what the price of those will be. It seems that around 1 million to 1.5 million people are affected, so a significant number, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (James Sunderland) mentioned. There are also many savers in society. Rather than looking at what is happening, what we are doing to help is making those difficult decisions. We are not unleashing unfunded, uncosted spending plans on the public purse and we are trying to get through this to help people get to a world where inflation is falling, the cost of living pressures on them are reducing and we can get the economy growing again, which will provide good employment opportunities for her constituents.

I wrote to the Minister earlier this week about the continuing problem of mortgage prisoners, following a comment from the Treasury that it is open to proportionate solutions for those frozen in that position after their mortgage lenders were sold from 2008. Recent reports state that the Government made a profit of £2.4 billion from selling on those mortgages. Will the Minister work with me, and with advocates for the tens of thousands of people trapped in those precarious financial circumstances, to find those proportionate solutions?

The hon. Lady raises the plight of those who have been unable to access even the mortgages at elevated levels that we have been talking about here. I understand the problem; it is something I have given significant time to with my officials and I have read the recent work conducted by the London School of Economics. I hope that, in that spirit, she will also recognise that it is a complex issue and that within that overall collective there are many different individual fact patterns. While I am open to finding solutions, I hope she will recognise that it is not easy and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

The Minister says there are 1,100,000 people affected by the mortgage market chaos inspired by the Truss-Kwarteng abracadabra magic last autumn. How many renters are affected? There is a renting crisis in my constituency and people simply cannot afford an overnight 20% increase in their rent.

I do not have any figures for rental, but the rental market is something we look at closely and we will keep an eye on what happens to those buy-to-let renters. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has brought a significant set of reforms before this House to help renters. I come back to the point that, however popular or unpopular it may be with the Opposition, the best way to manage this situation is to be prudent with the nation’s finances, to get the debt burden falling and to give the markets confidence so that interest rates fall as quickly as possible. I ask all colleagues to work with us on that. The last thing we should be doing is putting out the Opposition’s £28 billion a year of unfunded promises, which will spook the markets and lead to the sorts of rates that none of us wishes to see.

Shockingly, new data this morning reveals that the value of mortgage arrears has risen by 10% on the quarter—the highest and fastest increase in more than a decade. Many of my constituents are struggling to pay their mortgages. Unfortunately, they are paying the price for the Conservative Government’s economic failures, because a typical household’s mortgage payments are now three times greater than they were just two years ago. What conversations and what meetings have the Minister and the Chancellor had with lenders, and what action will they take to provide forbearance for my constituents?

I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would write to me with those statistics. The statistics I quoted earlier are that the level of mortgage arrears reported by the Financial Conduct Authority for the period up to the end of 2022 was 0.81%. That is a record low in recent memory, significantly lower than before the pandemic and much lower than it was in 2009. I am very happy to engage with him about the level of mortgage arrears. I engage with mortgage lenders all the time, as does the Chancellor, and we want them to have the right degree of forbearance for families who are struggling.

This Tory mortgage crisis is affecting my constituents. In London, mortgage costs are set to increase by more than £1.8 billion, people face the financial strain of high interest rates and incomes are not keeping up with those costs. When will the Minister finally get real, understand the impact of the crisis that his Government created and apologise to our constituents? What reassurances can he give to my constituents who will be facing remortgage costs?

I can give a number of assurances to the hon. Lady’s constituents. I imagine that Battersea is a very cosmopolitan place, so as people travel around the world they will understand that western economies across the world are facing exactly the same impact on the cost of living and on interest rates. She talked about £1.8 billion as a very large number; indeed it is, and we share the concern of those with mortgages. However, I put it to her that £94 billion is also a very big number, and that is the amount of household support that we are providing during this cost of living crisis.

Earlier this year we saw the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse. What assessment has the Treasury undertaken of the general resilience of UK financial institutions, especially in a context where rising mortgage costs might lead to a rapid increase in household repossessions?

My Treasury colleagues and I liaise closely with the Bank of England and the Prudential Regulation Authority, whose job it is to assure us of the soundness and resilience of banks. The Governor has talked about how the UK financial system is safe, secure and soundly capitalised, and that remains my belief.

York is a low-wage economy, yet we have extortionate house prices. Last year, housing costs went up by 23.1% in York—the highest rise in the country. My constituents are already mortgaged to the hilt and cannot afford more. What protections will the Minister put in place if mortgage rates rise further, as they are predicted to do? My constituents simply cannot afford their mortgages and they cannot afford this Government.

If York is a low-wage economy, the hon. Lady’s constituents will be benefiting enormously from the unprecedented 9.7% increase in the national living wage. The measures we are putting—[Interruption.] Perhaps she does not like the 9.7% increase in the national living wage that this Government came forward with. We are putting measures in place with lenders, including forbearance, and working with the Department for Work and Pensions on mortgage interest support and to ensure that families have access to the support they need.

The typical household’s mortgage payments have risen threefold in the last two years, yet in the north-east the typical wage packet is lower than when the Conservatives came to power 13 years ago. The Minister refuses to take any responsibility for the economic misery his Government are inflicting, despite having flagrantly and blatantly crashed the economy less than a year ago. Will he tell my constituents why they should carry on paying the price of Conservatism?

Once again, we have a contribution from the hon. Lady that completely ignores the fact of the global pandemic, the £400 billion of support we have provided and, although I believe she is highly literate in these matters, the fact that interest rates are rising across the western world.

In the first three months of this year, repossessions increased by 27% on the same period last year, and the latest estimates show that 2.5 million customers will need to renegotiate their mortgages over the next two years, with their payments increasing by £9 billion. Is the Minister really telling us that he is satisfied and that he has no reservations about the way that his Government have mismanaged the economy, with the consequent economic turbulence and soaring interest rates that are literally pricing people out of their homes?

This Government are focused—and this is what our constituents want to hear—on halving inflation, growing the economy and reducing the debt burden. From today forwards, that is the action we can take that will see interest rates falling sooner, reduce inflation and get us back to a position of economic growth. I am sure the hon. Lady wants that for her constituents as much as I do.

The Conservative party once prided itself on being the party of homeowners. The fact that we long ago ran out of Conservatives asking questions makes it clear that Tory MPs realise they have nothing to say to those people. Does the Minister realise that my constituents who are desperately worried about the cost of their mortgages will not have heard a single word from him to suggest that things are going to get better as a result of this Government’s actions?

I can absolutely reassure the hon. Gentleman that the Government are focused on his constituents, even if his colleagues find it useful to ask the same question again and again. We are focused on not making the sort of unfunded spending commitments—such as the £28 billion that the right hon. Member for Leeds West (Rachel Reeves) herself described as “reckless”—that would really cause difficulties for mortgage holders in Chesterfield and across the United Kingdom.

Given the jump in mortgage arrears, and to help everyone who is struggling to pay the Tory surcharge on their mortgages since the disastrous mini-Budget, is the Minister considering increasing access to mortgage interest relief?

The Tory mortgage crisis is affecting my constituents in Putney, including a group of young sharers I met this week whose landlord has had his mortgage increased and has passed the costs down to them. They have to leave their home and the area because they can no longer afford to live in south-west London. The Minister has blamed global factors again and again, but the cost of borrowing is higher here in the UK than in other developed economies. Does he agree that this is a Tory mortgage penalty—a Truss tax—and that the Government are to blame for the 13 disastrous years of housing policy that have brought us here?

I do not agree with the hon. Lady, however fine her rhetoric may be. The reality is that, if we want the nation’s householders to pay less for their mortgages, we need responsible Conservative management of the economy. When it comes to her Putney constituency, the best thing that she can do, if she is on the side of those who wish to own their own home, is urge the Labour Mayor to build more homes.

No, you are not. That question is finished. There is a danger that the House might not be able to hear the question from the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon).

There is no danger of that when you are in the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I thank the Minister for his answers to some very difficult questions. It has been said that 1.5 million households, including some of my Strangford constituents, are set to come off fixed mortgage deals this year and face a sharp rise in their monthly repayments—up to 1.56 percentage points from Tuesday. Has the Minister made an assessment of the impact on those who are considering buying their first house in the next year or so, and will he assure the House that discussions are taking place with local banks on what we can do to support people through the process of buying their first homes amid shocking price increases?

Let me be clear: the Government understand—I understand—the anxiety of those who have a mortgage, those who have invested in their home and those who wish to do so. That is why we will do everything we can—be it providing financial support to the tune of £94 billion, or making good decisions about our stewardship of the economy and not coming up with unfunded spending commitments—to ensure that we get back, as quickly as possible, to a world of falling interest rates and falling inflation, and support those who wish to buy a home above their head.