Early last year a resident wrote to me after they had fallen on hard times, they lost their job and suddenly found themselves claiming benefit for the first time whilst juggling a mortgage.
A difficulty they had was meeting the ongoing mortgage interest payments whilst they were actively seeking new work. The Government had a scheme in place for this 'Support for Mortgage Interest' but it only allowed applications after a 9 month period of being in receipt of benefits.
Since that time I've raised with various Ministers what steps can be taken to improve this system because whilst many homeowners do move back into work quickly, not all do. The scheme does not build a claimant's assets because it is a loan with a charge put on the property upon sale. For this reason, I saw no real need for such a lengthy waiting period.
I am pleased to see that today, DWP Minister, Mims Davies MP has confirmed that the waiting period for SMI claims will be reduced to 3 months. This allows the claimant to be sure they need the loan support whilst not accruing an extended period of arrears or facing a repossession notice.
It is a sensible and welcome move and whilst a relatively minor tweak in the benefit system, I know it will make a big impact in the lives of those who need the help that SMI provides.