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Self-employed People: Covid-19 Support Schemes

Volume 705: debated on Tuesday 7 December 2021

6. What recent assessment he has made of the availability of (a) mortgages and (b) credit for self-employed people who utilised the Government’s covid-19 support schemes. (904602)

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.

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?

The Government have worked with the Financial Conduct Authority 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.