Disabled people and others receiving Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) can now transfer this support to their new property when moving home, rather than having to repay the loan and reapply.
SMI is the help offered by government to owner-occupiers in times of need. It is paid as a loan and contributes towards the interest on people’s mortgages if they are in receipt of certain benefits, to protect them against repossession and keep them in their own homes.
Will Quince, minister for family support, housing and child maintenance, said: “This measure helps some of the most vulnerable people to stay in their homes and live independently. And we are now making it easier for people to keep this support, even when moving house.”
Previously, those receiving an SMI loan were required to repay the balance once a property is sold or transferred, provided there is enough equity after the mortgage has been paid off. They would then be asked to reapply for the loan on their new property.
However, the Minister for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, Will Quince, confirmed today that anyone with an SMI loan secured against their property will now be able to request their loan balance to be transferred to their new home when they move.
The policy shift will ensure those looking to move home to secure better employment will not face barriers to progressing in work. This follows the Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd’s recent call for a new government focus on helping people to move to higher paid, higher skilled roles.
The government said this change will have a particular benefit for those who move into a new property due to a disability or health condition, as they will continue to receive uninterrupted support towards their mortgage payments.
David Abbey, MySafeHome Limited managing director, said this shows the government supports the Home Ownership for people with Long-term Disabilities (HOLD) scheme.
In England if you have a long-term disability this scheme can help you buy any home for sale on an shared ownership basis of part rent and part buy.
Abbey added: “Allowing vulnerable people with disabilities to port their SMI loan reaffirms the government’s full support for HOLD and we’re delighted that this change should give many more individuals the opportunity to choose where and how they live their lives.”
SMI is available to claimants in receipt of Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit.
This assistance helps to keep claimants in their own homes and avoids additional cost to the taxpayer that would be incurred in the event of homelessness as a result of repossession.
The ability to transfer an SMI loan balance will also apply to those who have previously received this form of support but are no longer claiming benefits.