Taxpayer-owned banks repossess thousands of homes

More than 6,700 homes have been repossessed by banks in which the taxpayer has a major stake, as rising unemployment and pay cuts force homeowners to hand in their house keys. An analysis of the six-month figures reported by the banks last week shows that the number of customers having difficulty with repayments has risen, although some lenders believe there are signs that the stress is beginning to ease among some borrowers.At the end of June, Lloyds Banking Group – 43 per cent controlled by the taxpayer and owner of the country’s largest mortgage lender, Halifax - had the largest number of repossessed homes at around 3,000. Northern Rock, fully nationalised, had 2,522 on its books, while Royal Bank of Scotland, 70 per cent taxpayer-owned, had 567. The latest data available for Bradford & Bingley is for the end of December 2015 when the figure stood at 643.The lenders say that despite the difficulties facing many customers, the level of repossessions is not rising sharply. Lloyds said its repossessions were down 7 per cent while Northern Rock also has 1,000 fewer homes in possession compared with the end of last year.