Independent Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart is celebrating victory in her push make Post Office mortgages available in the Scottish islands.
The Post Office had previously refused mortgages for properties on all islands except Skye.
Ms Urquhart was alerted to the problem by a potential customer in Shetland. After the MSP raised the matter with Post Office Managing Director Paula Vennells, they have agreed to accept housebuyers on Bute, Lewis and Harris, Mainland Orkney, Mainland Shetland, Arran, Mull and Islay.
But many smaller islands remain excluded, a detail omitted from a Scotland Office statement taking credit for the move, and Ms Urquhart has vowed to fight on.
Ms Urquhart said: “We desperately need alternatives to the big banks, and Post Office financial services could play a big role in that. It’s great news that many islanders will now have that greater choice.
“But Alastair Carmichael is wrong to suggest all our island communities will benefit. Many islanders are still excluded by the new rules, from Uist to Unst, from Great Cumbrae to Papa Westray. I’ll keep pushing to persuade the Post Office to stick to its roots as a truly universal service.
“I first raised this issue only two weeks ago, and the Post Office have listened and responded quickly. They’ve shown they are willing to engage, and I understand they are keeping their island mortgage rules under review. So I would urge those islanders who are still excluded to contact the Post Office and tell them the demand is there.
“The islands continue to be discriminated against in everything from delivery charges to LPG prices. This good news just makes me more determined to keep fighting for a fair deal for island consumers.”
The shift in policy was confirmed in a letter from the Post Office to Ms Urquhart yesterday. The spokesman wrote:
“Thank you for your letter of 27 February to our Chief Executive, Paula Vennells, regarding the availability of our mortgage products. Further to our response of 5 March where we said that we were looking into this matter we are now in a position to provide you with an update on this.
“I can confirm that following our review, and in response to customer demand, the wide range of Post Office mortgage products will now be available to customers in Skye, Bute, Lewis & Harris, Mainland Orkney, Mainland Shetlands, Arran, Mull and Islay.
Ms Urquhart has today written again to Ms Vennells, asking for an explanation for continuing to exclude many Scottish islands from the Post Office’s mortgage services.