I love this time of year. The cards, the carols, the chocolate. And spending precious time with our family. To celebrate together, to have fun together, and to give each other presents and thanks.
And to give thanks to God. For me, the message of Christmas is for us to treat others - as we would wish to be treated. And the symbol of Christmas is light, even in the darkest week of the year, the light of hope. Hope we so desperately need in these most challenging of times.
So from my family to yours: We wish you a Christmas full of peace, joy and love. And hope. Hope for a better future.
And as we hold in our hearts those less fortunate than ourselves. Who won't share Christmas with the comfort of family. Whether because loved ones have died. Or because they've been separated by war and destruction. Let’s give them the gift of hope this Christmas too.
Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to bring in an emergency ban on banks repossessing people’s homes over the Christmas period.
It comes as analysis by the party revealed a “nightmare before Christmas,” with roughly 62,500homeowners nationwide due to see their mortgage rate hiked between now and 31 December.
Locally in Neath Port Talbot there were 21 possession warrants and 6 mortgage repossessions in the last 12 months.
The Liberal Democrats are also calling on the Government to immediately bring in its long-promised ban on no-fault evictions to protect renters, along with an increase in housing benefits and a moratorium on evictions based on rent arrears to protect those facing soaring rental prices. In Neath Port Talbot, official stats show 21 tenant evictions in the past year.
Liberal Democrats warn that the government must act now. No-one should face losing their home over Christmas because the Conservatives crashed the economy.
The Liberal Democrat proposals would include a temporary ban on banks repossessing people’s homes over the Christmas period. The party is also calling for a Mortgage Protection Fund to support homeowners hardest hit by soaring mortgage prices.
The latest figures nationally show a significant increase in people at risk of seeing their home repossessed, with 3,680 mortgage possessions claims in the courts between July and September, up 30% on the same period last year.
Families in Walesare facing a nightmare before Christmas, with monthly mortgage and rent payments going through the roof. The anxiety of eviction hangs over far too many people's heads.
UK Finance data show that 600,000 fixed-term mortgage deals will expire in the second half of 2022, with those mortgage holders usually moved to much higher Standard Variable Rate mortgages. This suggests that roughly 62,466 will see their fixed-rate deals end in the 19 days between today (Wednesday December 14th) and December 31st.
In November, the Bank of England said that a typical mortgage holder in this group would face an increase in mortgage payments of around £3,000 a year (Monetary Policy Report, p. 53).
A temporary ban on home repossessions was brought in during the Covid pandemic, but was lifted in May 2021. Banks also collectively agreed last year not to carry out any repossessions over the Christmas period.
The Liberal Democrats are proposing a new Mortgage Protection Fund, which would provide temporary grants to those most at risk of repossession – homeowners on the lowest incomes and those seeing the sharpest rises in mortgage rates. Anyone who sees their mortgage payments rise by more than 10% of their household income would get a grant to cover the cost of that rise for the next year, up to a maximum of £300 a month.
The Liberal Democrats are also calling on the government to urgently bring back pandemic-era protections for renters, including:
An immediate ban on no-fault evictions
A moratorium on evictions on grounds of rent arrears, unless arrears exceed 6 months. This measure was in place for 6 months in 2020-21.
Extend the mandatory notice period given by landlords from the current 2 months to 6 months. This was in place for 18 months in 2020 and 2021.