Council appoints new standards committee

New committee appointed to oversee equity release standards

The Equity Release Council, the representative body for the UK equity release sector, has appointed a new standards committee which is responsible for developing its consumer safeguards, which are credited with transforming the sector and driving innovation.¹

The 11-strong committee will be in post for two years and is made up of experts from across the representative trade body’s membership.

Following a major organisation-wide governance review, the standards committee replaces the former standards board. Its composition has been expanded and reflects the organisation’s unique ability to bring together all disciplines involved in delivering positive customer experiences, including providers, advisers, solicitors, surveyors and tech platforms.

The Council is now recruiting an independent chair to oversee the standards committee and a new member panel, which will inform the organisation’s business planning and strategic direction.

The Council’s predecessor, Safe Home Income Plans, launched the first product standards in 1991, in advance of the regulation of the mortgage and lifetime mortgage markets in 2004.

CEO Jim Boyd said: “Our standards committee will continue to evolve our safeguards to meet changing consumer needs.

“The importance of our safeguards has remained a constant for over 30 years. This commitment to industry improvement has transformed the profile and reputation of equity release with consumers, government and regulators alike. Council standards are stronger than ever following the launch of our fifth product standard last year, giving all new customers the option to pay down their loan via voluntary penalty-free partial repayments.

“Modern equity release is a trusted and socially important product that enables older people to meet daily living expenses, make aspirational purchases or support their loved ones. It should be on all homeowners’ financial checklists as they approach later life.”

Equity release allows homeowners aged over 55 to access money from their homes, without having to make repayments until they pass away or go into care, unless they choose to.

Products that meet Council standards ensure: secure tenure for life; fixed or capped rates for life at the point of release; the right to move home; a ‘no negative equity’ guarantee; and the ability to make voluntary penalty-free repayments, which can reduce interest costs.

By joining the Council, member firms including many household names have pledged to go beyond statutory regulation to abide by its standards, rules and guidance. Last year saw 93,000 new and returning customers access £6.2bn of property wealth via Council members, compared with 66,698 customers releasing £3.06bn in 2017.

Responsibility for approving the Council’s standards remains with its board, which recently appointed two independent non-executive directors to inform its strategic plans and responsible stewardship of the standards.

For information about the vacancy for the standards board and member panel chair visit 

¹ Commenting in a Council report last year to mark the 30th anniversary of the standards, Sir Hector Sants, Money and Pensions Service chair, said the standards were “at the forefront of consumer protection.” In addition, John Glen, MP and then economic secretary to the Treasury, said the Council was “improving the standards of the equity release sector”.