Green mortgages 'could be next cladding scandal', MPs warn

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Millions of homeowners could be trapped in unsellable houses if the Government presses ahead with a green mortgage scheme, MPs warned last night.

They claimed that proposals which would make it harder to get a mortgage on poorly-insulated homes could be a ‘green cladding scandal in the making’.

Under the plans, lenders would have to disclose the energy performance of properties in their portfolio – and set voluntary targets to improve the insulation of their houses.

Ministers hope it would encourage buyers to make their homes more energy efficient – but it could leave those who cannot afford to make the changes struggling to re-mortgage or sell.

Last night MPs said the proposal would turn many homeowners into ‘mortgage prisoners’ trapped in unsellable houses, like the victims of the cladding scandal.

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Tory former minister Steve Baker told the Daily Mail: ‘Once again we see the cost of net zero spiralling beyond people’s expectations.

‘We’ve got enough trouble with mortgage prisoners without net zero making more of them.’

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, a former energy minister, told the Mail that the ‘ill-conceived plans will punish innocent homeowners and turn many into mortgage prisoners’.

He added: ‘This is a green cladding scandal in the making that will hurt untold numbers of unsuspecting homeowners in the years ahead.’

Suggesting that the Government offer discounts on council tax or stamp duty for those who want to make their homes more efficient, Sir Ed said: ‘We should be incentivising people to upgrade their homes for the climate.

‘That would empower people and be a fair deal, rather than this rotten stealth tax.’

Tory MP Stephen McPartland – a prominent critic of the Government’s handling of the cladding crisis – also warned that the scheme could affect ‘millions’.

‘The cladding crisis and building safety scandals have already destroyed the opportunity to move up and down the housing ladder for millions of people,’ he said. ‘This type of scheme will put a massive weight around the necks of millions more.’

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Last night trade groups also criticised the move with Kate Davies, of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), warning it could make it harder to sell less efficient homes.

‘If a lender’s average were to creep down to an ‘unacceptable’ level, the temptation might well be to avoid lending to borrowers whose existing or target properties had poor EPC ratings,’ she warned.

And Emma Byrne, of the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign group, called for proper regulation to avoid ‘repeating past mistakes’.

She added: ‘We all understand the need to heat our homes differently. But if the Government wants this to succeed, it needs to ensure proper regulation of those who fit insulation… and genuine recourse for consumers who are let down.

‘Without that, this strategy will simply repeat the mistakes of the recent past and only succeed in enriching these companies at a hefty cost to the taxpayer.’

Labour’s housing spokesman Lucy Powell said the Government had ‘abandoned homeowners to face the cost of insulation on their own’.

However a Government spokesman claimed the proposals will not impede people’s ability to get a mortgage.

‘Our plans will support homeowners [and] will increase consumer choice rather than restrict it,’ they added.

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