Mortgage Interest help on Benefits
Problems ahead for people on means tested benefits who have or due to future retirement / unemployment / sickness or disability expect help with their mortgage interest (MI)
At present around 140,000 households on means tested benefits get some help to pay their mortgage interest (In a similar way that people renting get housing benefit help to pay their rent), this mortgage interest help is part of their means tested benefit and is not repayable, just as any housing benefit help for renters is not repayable.
140,000 people many of these are family and pensioner households who at present have this mortgage interest help paid are about to lose out and find that any mortgage interest help given in future along with their means tested benefits is now a repayable interest bearing loan.
Approximately 50% of these 140,000 claimants are working age and families with the other 50% being of pension age that’s well over 70,000 pensioners who will be losing out.
When will MI loan payments be introduced?
MI loans will be introduced from 6 April 2018 for both new and existing claimants although phased in for existing has been mentioned.
Claimants currently getting help with mortgage interest that receive Income Support, Income-Related Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-Based Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit or Universal Credit will be offered MI loan payments instead.
Homeowners will be required to pay back this loan plus interest to the DWP once their property is sold or ownership is transferred.
If there is sufficient equity in the property following a sale or transfer, the full amount must be repaid plus interest. However, if there is insufficient equity to cover the full loan amount borrowed, any amount still owed will be written off.
This looks like it will end up being like the bedroom tax for home owners, a simple solution to stop this would have been to make this change for new claimants only or leave things as they are as the cost to administer this will surely outweigh any savings.
A recent change means home owner’s claiming means tested benefits are now having to wait 39 weeks before any mortgage interest help is give when previously it was 13 weeks so this new change from April 2018 will only add to the problems faced by home owners already.