Join the mortgage industry blood bank drive to help those with faulty immunities today

Join the mortgage industry blood bank drive to help those with faulty immunities today


Blood plasma is used to make antibody medicines that save the lives of people with weak or faulty immune systems and donation only restarted in April after a gap of 20 years. At the moment the NHS relies on imported plasma medicines but there is increasing pressure on supplies.

More than 1,000 donations are needed a week and men are especially needed as donors because they are more likely to have the prominent veins required.

The industry’s blood bank is targeting 30,000 people from across financial services by 2022, and recruitment is ongoing so sign up to donate now on the website here  or on the Linked in page.

Roger Morris (pictured), one of the driving forces behind the campaign, said his blood donation has already travelled from Edgbaston in Warwickshire down to Southampton.

Kate Davies (pictured), executive director at Imla, has made 91 blood donations over her lifetime. She is one of five long-standing blood donors and well-known industry names to detail their own personal reasons for regularly giving blood on You Tube, including Julie Patrick, group compliance director, OSB Group, James Chutter corporate account manager, Leeds Building Society, Emily Smith national account manager, Hinckley & Rugby Building Society and Tim Vigeon, head of lending Buckinghamshire BS.

Davies said: “We want to encourage everyone to become a regular donor. I’ve been doing it for 40 years now. I started in my last year at university after having an operation and losing a lot of blood.”

She added: “I hope many of you sign up and join the team of regular donors.”

Sign up now to become a regular donor here.

RIP John Murray, journalist and author (24.06.1947 to 14.07.2021)

RIP John Murray, journalist and author (24.06.1947 to 14.07.2021)


He was a cheery man, always curious, often too totally absorbed in the pages of Mortgage Finance Gazette, which he edited for six years, to join in the daft editorial office mayhem. John was most often seen shuttling in and out, particularly around lunchtime, with commercial manager Mike Mortimore, sipping his Cappuccinos which left chocolate on his top lip, hunched over his desk or sharing the edition’s top news story with anyone in earshot.

He enjoyed a rage-fuelled rant after rudeness or an injustice and harboured magnificent grudges.

John was always generous in his praise of good journalism, found time for people and was consistently up for an inappropriate pint. He spoke often and lovingly about Pam his gorgeous wife who he always considered far ‘too good for him’ and his son Nick, daughter Natasha and grandson Thomas.

He had always fostered loftier ambitions, which he realised writing three novels, penning the one he appeared the most proud of, Elvis and the Virgin Mary in 2015.

More recently, John’s Facebook page was testament to the frequent walks he took in South London with his wife Pam and his love of wildlife photography. His passion for travel culminated in a Chimpanzee and Mountain gorilla tracking trip to Uganda just before his cancer diagnosis.

John was born in Kidderminster to an Austrian mother and an Irish father from County Mayo. He grew up in Shepherds Bush, was an ardent QPR fan and flitted between journalism and PR throughout his career which began in the 1960s with Sun Alliance and London Insurance Group. He moved into training at the Distributive Industry Training Board pioneering the use of video as a learning tool then on to the Building Societies Association (BSA) in 1982 to manage corporate communications and commercial activities.

He became editor of Mortgage Finance Gazette in 2000 at Charterhouse Communications, the place where so many of us started out and moved to Lending Strategy in 2006 where he reigned supreme until 2009 when the crash tumbled the standalone magazine but John stayed on as consulting editor.

John died at home in his own bed last week, after a brave battle with cancer.

In his own words, John said: “By accident rather than design I found myself as an expert in housing finance but at a strategic rather than an operational level.

“As a journalist I liked exploring new ideas and challenging old mantras, and this is exactly what I have continued to do in my books.”

The last time I saw John was two years ago, give or take, for another inappropriate pint in the Cittie of Yorke in Holborn. He lovingly re-told me the plot of Elvis and the Virgin Mary which I promised I’d read but never did. I looked the book up again on Amazon today which involves Elvis returning from the dead, a heroine committed by parents to a mental institution and a reality TV series which all climaxes in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Nice one John.

I’m going to have a pint, raise it to you and start reading tonight.


With thanks to Pamela Murray and family.

Buy the Kindle version of Elvis and the Virgin Mary here.

The Equity Release Awards relocates to Hilton Bankside for 2022

The Equity Release Awards relocates to Hilton Bankside for 2022


Hosted by Mortgage Solutions, the glittering awards, previously at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, will take place next year in its new Southwark, Thames-side venue.

The change of venue and timing offers the opportunity to host the night face to face, in a safe environment, free from restriction.

The next awards event will be on 27 January with the event officially taking place in this month every year in the future.

Managing director AE3 Media and event host Iain Cartlidge said: “We think this will provide a natural fit for our winners to promote their well-deserved accolades across a full calendar year. As such, the awards dinner delivered in January 2022, will be known as the 2022 Equity Release Awards and not 2021.”

He added: “The equity release awards have been a key event for the industry and it’s important to us to make sure the venue and timing of the event is as well positioned as it can be during somewhat volatile times. We are so looking forward to hosting the biggest dinner and awards event for the later life lending industry and seeing you all once again in 2022, this time at the glittering Hilton Bankside.”


Avalanche of homelessness expected as furlough ends

Avalanche of homelessness expected as furlough ends


Campaigners have called for urgent action to prevent an “avalanche of homelessness” at the end of September once Covid-targeted government support ends.

“More people are at risk of homelessness now than at any time in living memory,” warned Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue.

“Against a background of 1.9 million jobs at risk of permanent loss from the pandemic, this should be ringing alarm bells throughout the country.”

Despite the eviction ban from the government, there were 370 mortgage repossessions and 262 rental evictions in England and Wales in the first 90 days of the year. This equates to more than seven households a day being made homeless.

However, Ministry of Justice figures show since the government’s March 2020 eviction ban, which allowed cases to be lodged but not heard in court until June this year, repossession numbers are down 34 per cent year-on-year to 2,197 in Q1.

In January to March 2021, 40 per cent (2,542) of all landlord possession claims were social landlord claims, and 16 per cent (1,002) were accelerated claims, which can be activated if a tenant has not left by the deadline in the section 21 eviction notice.

Private landlords lodged the largest number of claims in Q1 at 44 per cent equating to 2,833 claims.

All landlord possession actions have dropped significantly this year due to Covid-related actions, with landlord orders for possession falling 72 per cent and repossessions down 96 per cent on 2020.

In May, the government agreed a series of announcements ahead of the lifting of the possession ban on 1 June for emergency cases. Where an anti-social behaviour ground has been found, notice can be served immediately or after one-month. Landlords may also offer four weeks’ notice if rent arrears have been included on the section eight notice and they are ‘serious’. In cases of fraud, landlords may also offer two weeks’ notice.

Furlough, which has protected millions of jobs, is due to finish by September-end with latest figures suggesting 2.4 million continue to benefit, down from 5.1 million in January.

The cost of furlough from March 2020 to the end of September 2021 is estimated to be £66bn, according to estimates from the Office for Budget Responsibility.

At the pandemic start, estimates suggested more than one in ten workers would become unemployed, where as the current reality is less than one in 20.

AMI launches 15 minute industry diversity and inclusivity survey – take part now

AMI launches 15 minute industry diversity and inclusivity survey – take part now



With support from Aldermore and Virgin Money, the 15-minute anonymous survey run by an independent search agency is being offered to the whole cross sector industry, at every level of seniority.

Please fill in the survey here or share it with colleagues via the social media buttons at the bottom of the page.

AMI said the rising prominence of the issue and the discussion paper from the combined banking and conduct regulators will ensure that it continues to be a focal point for the industry.

Robert Sinclair, chief executive of AMI (pictured), said: “This is a subject that evokes significant emotion and this is your chance to give us your view. We’re looking to understand how inclusive our industry is and whether we can do more to help firms achieve diversity of thought and an inclusive culture? If so, where do we start?”

He added that much of the agenda is being driven by the younger generations and it is up to those of us who have been in the industry longer to accept the challenge, to keep up and to stay relevant.

“AMI is doing this work because people who I hope are my friends have been brave enough to bare their souls and talk about their lives and experiences. Inclusivity and equality needs allyship, partnership and feeding.

“I would like to think that AMI, by working in partnership with our member firms and lenders, can help firms make some tangible changes to how they embrace society in its widest sense and to ensure that everyone is able to bring their whole, authentic self to work,” Sinclair added.

Fill out the survey here.


Bluestone Mortgages relaunches resi at 85 per cent LTV

Bluestone Mortgages relaunches resi at 85 per cent LTV


The relaunch follows a reduction to 75 per cent LTV in June which was implemented to allow Bluestone to maintain service levels for its intermediary partners and customers, following unprecedented demand.

Reece Beddall, sales and marketing director, Bluestone Mortgages, said: After making proactive changes to our maximum LTV lending in June, we’re delighted to relaunch at 85 per cent LTV in such a short space of time. The fact we have relaunched ahead of schedule is a testament to the team’s hard work and passion to provide the solutions the complex credit market needs, along with a first-rate service to our brokers and end-customers.

Adam Hinder, managing director, with adviser Simply Adverse, said: We are delighted to see a key strategic partner in Bluestone returning to the market at 85 per cent LTV. The flexibility that the range will now provide in addition to the communicated increases in turnaround times will support our clients’ aspirations of homeownership.”

Stephanie Charman, head of strategic relationships, Sesame Bankhall Group, said: “The demand for specialist lending has accelerated as a result of the pandemic as people’s financial needs become more complex. Bluestone’s relaunch to 85 per cent demonstrates its commitment to supporting the needs of this growing cohort of customers,  no matter how complex or unique.”

Bluestone Mortgages is the residential lending arm of Bluestone Group, a European specialist lending and fintech business with its headquarters in Cambridge and offices in London, Sheffield and Dublin.

Founded in 2000, investors in the lender include Australia’s Macquarie Bank, interests associated with Bluestone’s founder and chairman, Alistair Jeffery, and the management team and staff.

Bluestone’s other businesses include Fignum, its fintech start-up, Bluestone Credit Management, and Bluestone Motor Finance in Ireland.

In June, the lender exclusively spoke to Mortgage Solutions to detail the reasons behind its step back from the high LTV lending market after a rate increase in a bid to manage service levels.

At that time, specialist lender Bluestone’s managing director Steve Seal (pictured) said the City of London-headquartered lender would return to 85 per cent LTV lending within two months after ‘breathing space’ to regulate and maintain quality service levels.

Green credentials move into top three on landlord buyer property wish list

Green credentials move into top three on landlord buyer property wish list



Research from Hodge Bank suggests 82 per cent of landlords placed the green credentials of a property up there with potential for returns.

Andy Button, head of investment finance at Hodge, said: “The buy-to-let market is particularly buoyant right now with demand continuing to grow throughout the pandemic, and it’s interesting to see how the priorities for landlords are changing when looking to add to their portfolio.”

Button said sustainability will feature more in new build development design, and more stringent compliance to EPC, and an investment strategy closely aligned to sustainability could actually improve cash flows in the longer term, as tenants might be prepared to pay higher rents, in exchange for lower utility costs.

“Our research suggests that investors are very much alive to the longer-term benefits that having sustainability credentials in a portfolio can afford,” he added.

A Savills report confirmed 26 per cent of people considered the environment the most important issue facing the country and Opinium research showed 78 per cent of the public believe they have a personal responsibility to deal with the climate crisis.

Hodge’s portfolio buy-to-let product offers mortgages of up to £5m for between four and 15 properties and will also loan to those buying multi-unit blocks.

The lender also offers a specialised residential investment loan, of up to £10m for larger investors with over 15 properties or units, including multi-unit blocks and houses of multiple occupancy.

Hodge Bank’s commercial property arm focuses on development and investment finance, and offers saving products to private individuals, business and commercial clients.

BOI mortgage sales staff to be cut from 17 to 12 through consultation

BOI mortgage sales staff to be cut from 17 to 12 through consultation


The consultation, which closes at the end of July, will reduce the field sales team from 17 to 12, a BOI spokesperson said.

“Colleagues will have the option to be redeployed within the bank or apply for voluntary parting,” it said.

Iain Smith head of intermediaries at the bank was approached but declined to comment.

The statement said: “We can confirm that we are consulting with a number of colleagues on changes within our mortgage business as we successfully pivot towards mortgage segments where our propositions and expertise add most value to mortgage intermediaries, including our bespoke mortgage proposition.”

The bank has confirmed closure of its Post Office for Intermediaries brand to new applications on 9 July and all applications must be fully-submitted and any outstanding Agreements in Principle converted to full applications by this date.

The lender said all new business would be sold through the Bank of Ireland for Intermediaries channel.

The bank confirmed cases submitted before this date will still have proc fees paid.

The Post Office will continue to offer mortgages through its direct channels.

The bank said the move would make it ‘simpler and easier’ for brokers to do business with it.

“Since late 2019 our strategy [has been] to achieve growth in niche mortgage lending where our mortgage propositions and expertise can add most value to mortgage intermediaries.

“As at 30 March 2021, we achieved growth of £0.6bn in bespoke mortgage lending since its launch in 2019.”

In April 2018, Bank of Ireland launched the Post office for Intermediaries brand to sit alongside Bank of Ireland for Intermediaries and launched two intergenerational products to offer a solution to first-time buyers and also solve the later life lending conundrum.

Last week, the Irish government launched a ‘phased exit’ of its 13.9 per cent stake in Bank of Ireland owned since the credit crunch bailout over the next six months, worth roughly £676m at current market valuation.

On stamp duty holiday end: “We’re still seeing strong demand” – London and Country

On stamp duty holiday end: “We’re still seeing strong demand” – London and Country


“The question will be will the market soften off a little bit? But we’re still seeing strong demand at the moment and clearly people coming to market now are not going to be making an end of June completion deadline,” he added.

In a video panel debate in association with Skipton Building Society for Intermediaries, Hollingworth said greater clarity about returning to work, without the same commuting pressures and potentially moving further afield will be some of the factors coming into play in the second-half.

“We have to expect a softening from where we’ve been. The stamp duty holiday played into the intense market activity currently, but nonetheless people are refocused on where they live, having more space and I don’t see that disappearing very rapidly so I’m perhaps a little more optimistic,” he added.

Jen Lloyd, mortgage product lead, Skipton Building Society for Intermediaries, said: “What’s interesting is that if we think back to this time last year, May, the Bank of England were talking about potential falls of 16 per cent in house prices. That hasn’t happened and in fact, quite the opposite.

She added: “The question mark for me is over how sustainable house price growth of 10 per cent year-on-year is at this level. Combined with the fact wages are going up three per cent year-on-year and have been for 20 years.”

Hollingworth said: “Some moderation there wouldn’t actually be a bad thing and like you say, that supply can’t meet the same level of demand – it pushes prices higher. But I don’t see the end of stamp duty being the end of this new-found demand for housing.”

John Scrivens, regional manager intermediary relationships, Skipton Building Society for Intermediaries said the rise in deliberate landlords is evident as that gap between rental and mortgage costs continues to grow.

Later, he said: “As the pandemic progresses this year, people are still not likely to be travelling as much, outside of the UK. There is a realisation that Covid isn’t going away. Estate agents up and down the country tell me there is huge demand in new enquiries but it’s the stock that’s the issue.”

He added: “It will continue to be an interesting year in H2.”


Watch the panel debate by clicking the screen below.

Majority of brokers want SDLT extension but many argue for ‘return to normal’

Majority of brokers want SDLT extension but many argue for ‘return to normal’


This illustrates a split in broker opinion, with many clearly appreciative of the boost to the market but also concerned by the chaos caused to third-party parts of the chain like conveyancers and valuers or concerned by the inflated prices buyers are paying.

In a boost to the housing market, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) lifted the threshold for stamp duty liability to £500,000 on 8 July 2020, due to end in March, but then extended the deadline to 30 June.

From the 1 July, the nil-rate threshold drops down to £250,000 and first-time buyer relief resumes. First-time buyers do not have to pay any stamp duty on the first £300,000 of their property purchase. On the portion of their house price between £300,000 and £500,000 they must pay 5 per cent. On the 1 October, the stamp duty holiday ends entirely and the nil-rate threshold reverts to £125,000.

Niki Cooke, head of intermediaries at Twenty7Tec, said: “Beyond the headline statistics, there’s a real split in brokers’ opinion about whether to extend and why. Was the tax relief programme a success? Well it definitely kept the market moving in what were challenging circumstances. But brokers are now asking the biggest of questions: ‘Should we have stamp duty tax at all for average priced houses?’ and ‘How do we make sure that we treat people fairly who would otherwise miss the June 30 deadline?”

In answer to the question, “If you were offered a three-month extension to the stamp duty holiday, would you take it?”, brokers said:

Absolutely 49 per cent
Definitely not 14 per cent
Neutral 12 per cent
Probably 9 per cent
Probably not 16 per cent

Brokers in the yes camp argued the move would relieve pressure on solicitors, free up the backlog in removals firms and keep a buoyant homebuying market going. However, several suggested only pipeline cases should be extended within a concrete timeframe.

One broker said: “Stamp duty needs urgent reform anyway, [so] removal below £500k is a good start. Clients are battling to complete before the stamp duty with lenders flooded and unable to help.”

Another said: “Solicitors are taking so long to address the legal work, with so many still working remotely in their own timeframes.”

In the ‘no’ camp, a broker said: “There needs to be a normal house buying situation again. The stamp duty holiday has been great to stimulate the housing market again, but has also caused chaos with local searches taking months to come back and solicitors unable to cope with business levels.”