When does Martin Lewis take an official position in directing the fortunes of Britain? It can’t come too soon. Clearly, he already exerts a positive influence over millions of us with his MoneySavingExpert platform. He’s the living embodiment of George Berkeley’s tree falling in the woods – if the saving isn’t presented on MoneySavingExpert is it really a saving at all?
While potent, Lewis is still an independent. When it comes to the big decisions that direct our lives, he’s a mitigator rather than an instigator. He’s a lone voice and not a regulator. That needs to change. The peril many face as mortgages get set to leap hugely has prompted the chancellor Jeremy Hunt to call in bank bosses for a meeting to ask them to be “flexible” with customers. Which is all very well, if a touch late.
It turns out that experts were also called in last December, and asked to think about what could be done to help people through the cost of living crisis, with a focus on mortgages. Martin Lewis was there. During that summit he warned about the coming mortgage timebomb. This week he revealed some of his suggestions. There were useful ideas, like mortgage holidays, like potential change to loan periods, that would be reversible should the conditions improve, and a request that helping measures shouldn’t damage people’s credit scores. None of them called for government intervention that we’re told would increase inflation. But all would have a useful impact for people fearing the worst.
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He said there were a lot of nods, but nothing happened. And now, here we are. Obviously, it was a time of flux last autumn and there was an ever revolving number of people in the great offices of state, some really bad at their jobs. Really awful. But Hunt was chancellor during the mortgage summit and you’d think he’d remember he was there. Or at least have kept SOME notes, so that even now, as the horse bolts, he’d be able to start doing something positive.
Lewis is back meeting with the chancellor this week, but it’s not yet clear if his advice will be heeded this time.