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British women say strict mortgage rules are discriminatory

Getting a mortgage in the UK has become tougher since new regulations were introduced in 2014 and applicants are now asked to fill in a form detailing their monthly outgoing, including things like gym membership, and how they would fair when interest rates rise.

Now new research shows that 25% of women have intentionally not disclosed plans to start a family as they fear this would lead to their application being refused and 9% said they have been discriminated against by lenders over their plans to have children.

Indeed, the research from comparison website uSwitch also found that 11% would delay having a child in order to secure a mortgage while 48% save up to cover payments during maternity leave.

The research also found that the pressure of disclosing information for a mortgage application is having a significant emotional impact. Some 71% of women who concealed their family plans from lenders experienced high levels of stress and anxiety during the mortgage application process.

Overall 27% of women think the current affordability criteria is out of step with modern family finances and many said savings should be taken into account.

‘There is a strong feeling that mortgage lenders, rightly or wrongly, may be penalising women for starting a family,’ said Tashema Jackson, money expert at uSwitch.

‘A worrying outcome is that some female mortgage applicants are feeling forced to withhold information from potential lenders. Not only can this have severe implications in terms of invalidating any mortgage offers, but it is causing stress and anxiety for home buyers at a critical time in their life,’ she pointed out.

‘While it’s vital that lenders help people only borrow within their means and ensure they can afford future payments, it’s not fair for lenders to make blanket assumptions. Those planning a family may be able to manage their repayments even with a drop in household income, thanks to careful planning or savings,’ she explained.

‘We believe lenders should be making decisions based on a broader picture of an applicant’s financial situation, including the amount that they have in savings, rather than on assumptions about a woman’s personal circumstances or intentions,’ she added.

She also pointed out that anyone who feels that they may have been discriminated against for any reason should lodge a complaint with the mortgage provider and if there is no resolution they can go to the Financial Ombudsman Service.