Greater Manchester is repossession ‘hotspot’: Oldham and Wigan two of worst affected towns in UK, says report

By Eve Commander

Greater Manchester is a repossession ‘hotspot’, according to a new report.

Oldham and Wigan are two of the five worst affected towns in the UK for housing repossessions a report released on Friday has shown.

The two Greater Manchester areas have almost double the UK average for repossessions and the North West as a whole has been described as a repossession ‘hotspot’.

The analysis of court-ordered repossessions, broken down by post code, found that Wigan and Oldham ranked as the fourth and fifth worst affected areas in the country.

The figures also revealed that there is now the biggest gap between the number of repossessions in the North and South in six years.

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv, who released the report, explained: “As a region, the North has traditionally depended on public sector jobs, but a squeeze in public sector funding has led to loss of jobs for many, and very slow pay increases for others.

“Pay increases that are consistently below the rate of inflation, have further tightened household budgets, and caused many to fall behind on mortgage repayments.”

Both towns have been hit hard by the recession and are struggling with job losses and, in Oldham, just under 1000 homes were repossessed in the last economic quarter alone.

While repossessions are falling as the economy slowly improves the report released by the Chartered Surveyors said that this has been slow to filter through to the North, where ‘staggeringly’ seven out of ten Northern towns are repossession hot-spots.

Wigan and Oldham were among the worst affected with 4.3 and 4.2 repossessions per 1,000 households respectively compared to the national average of 2.8.

“There is still a long way to go before the Northern property market returns to its pre-recession health, and all the while the North is still playing catch-up, and falling further and further behind the South,” Mr Sexton added.

Oldham and Wigan Council have queried the results of the report but reassure struggling residents that they can offer support.

Oldham Council state that vulnerable home owners can benefit from their new Mortgage Rescue Scheme whereby a housing association will buy a resident’s home and then allow them to become a tenant.

Councillor Dave Hibbert, Cabinet Member for Environment and Housing, said: “Our residents, like many across the country, are experiencing tough economic times.

“The knock-on effect means that, through no fault of their own, people are losing their jobs and risk falling into arrears because they cannot afford to pay their mortgages.

“If anybody finds themselves in this predicament, I would urge them to contact their lenders as soon as possible. The company may be able to consider a temporary payment holiday, reduced payments, or an extension to the length of their mortgage to reduce overall payments.

“However, as a Council we are also doing our bit to help homeowners to stay in their properties, as we do not want to see anyone lose their homes. The Mortgage Rescue Scheme offers a lifeline to eligible homeowners who have exhausted other options.”

Oldham Council said that the report does not make the distinction between whether the repossessions are in the social and private sectors and fails to draw distinctions between areas, blurring for example statistics for Tameside, Rochdale and Oldham together.

The report also notes in its methodology that ‘no representation or assurances are made as to its accuracy or completeness’.

A spokesman for The Wriglesworth Consultancy who compiled the report, has denied that the information in it is misrepresentative.

“The report represents exactly what we laid it out as,” they said.

Image courtesy of Andy Beecroft, with thanks

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