Equity Release Summit opens with call for cross-party collaboration ahead of General Election

After Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a General Election for 4th July 2024, Chris Pond, Chair of the Lending Standards Board and the Equity Release Council (ERC) Standards Board, said regardless of the results, Government would be facing tight financial restraints, and that industry and political collaboration would be the key to meeting these challenges.

Speaking at the Equity Release Summit today, former MP Pond reflected on the industry’s move from initial regulation during his time at the FSA, the FCA’s predecessor, from rules and product-based regulation to engender trust in a sector that was perceived as risky, to voluntary standards that have engendered innovation, and an evolution to becoming more outcome focused.

”Later life lending can transform people’s lives and meet policy objectives,” Pond said.

He added that, at a time of economic turmoil, the market had a role to play in tapping into a projected £5.2tn of non-mortgaged equity in UK property, 50% of which is estimated to be held by over-55s.

Currently, he said, the later life industry is potentially only tapping into less than 2% of this pool.

”If we can safely release more of that equity,” Pond added, “then we can meet many of the challenges we face as a nation, such as the growing need to fund long-term care and supplement retirement, to help many older people struggling due to rising living costs.”

”It’s vitally important that consumers trust in our market,” Pond said, adding that the ERC and various consumer champions was working to ensure this and promote the value of good advice.

He said: “The standards continue to evolve, supported by the ERC.

”Robust but flexible standards are essential to the growth of the later life market.”

Pond added that financial and cost-of-living pressures were just the start of the issues that could be addressed via equity release, pointing to the drive to net zero and green equity release to supplement Government schemes in helping homeowners update the UK’s housing stock.