Update on our covid-19 response

The Equity Release Council’s Chairman, David Burrowes, has issued a statement to consumers to update them on our response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “Many customers and their families will be concerned about the financial pressures caused by the Covid-19 crisis. As an industry we want to ensure that we are there to support customers at this difficult time. We are committed to finding ways across the full end-to-end process to continue to deliver services in line with the Equity Release Council’s standards but also in a way that reflects the guidance of government on social distancing and protects the health of customers and members.

“Face-to-face legal advice is a key component of the Equity Release Council’s standards of consumer protection. It provides support and security for customers, particularly for those who may be most vulnerable, when choosing to access equity from their property. For example, it allows legal practitioners to check that there is no duress or coercion involved in the decision, and that customers understand the costs and benefits of any plan they are considering taking out. It also recognises the legal requirement for a witness to be physically present  to the signature of the deed to the equity release transaction.

“However, we recognise this is an unprecedented time and we want to ensure consumer protections can be maintained within the latest Government health guidelines. As such, we are working with our members, particularly lawyers, to see whether alternative steps to normal practice can, for a limited time period, serve this purpose in a climate where face-to-face contact is temporarily restricted.

We have invited views from all members, particularly legal practitioners, and will publish the outcome this week. We will review it on a regular basis and will also continue to monitor advice from our financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s law societies and the Government to ensure consumers are fully protected.”