Post Office u-turn on island mortgages

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Post Office will now offer mortgages to island customers following sharp criticism of their policy of limiting their deals to mainland only customers.

In last week’s Gazette Post Office confirmed that they did not offer mortgage deals to customers on Scottish islands with the exception of Skye but said they were reviewing their availability.

This week the Gazette has learned that the policy has now been changed and that mortgages are now available to island customers.

John Willcock Head of Post Office Mortgages said: “Post Office is committed to making it as easy as possible for customers to access its products and services. We have listened to comments regarding the availability of our range of mortgages to customers in the Scottish Islands and are pleased to confirm that following a review we shall now be offering Post Office Mortgages to customers in Skye, Bute, Lewis & Harris, Mainland Orkney, Mainland Shetland, Arran, Mull and Islay.”

The issue was brought to the attention of the public last week when Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart was approached by an island constituent drawing attention to the lack of service to islanders. She then wrote to the UK minister responsible for the Post Office, Lib Dem Jenny Willott, and the Managing Director of the publicly-owned company, Paula Vennels.

She is still awaiting a response but was delighted to hear from the Gazette that the publicity had had an impact on Post Office policy.

She said: “It’s fantastic that the Post Office have moved to fix this oversight so quickly after I raised it with them. We desperately need alternatives to the big banks, and Post Office financial services could play a big role in that. It’s great to know that Islanders will now be able to benefit from that greater choice.

 “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 Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael said: “The Post Office is an integral part of everyday Scottish life and I am delighted that residents and businesses in our island communities from Stromness to Stornoway will now be able access the same Post Office mortgage products available to those on the mainland.

“This announcement underlines the core values of the Post Office to sit at the heart of communities across the UK. I would like to thank Post Office CEO Paula Vennells who I spoke with earlier today, she has worked hard to find a suitable resolution to this issue.

“The UK Government recognises how important the Post Office is to the Scottish isles and indeed to communities across the whole of the UK. That is why we have committed £1.34 billion over the course of this Parliament and a further £640 million in 2015-2018 to maintain and modernise the Post Office network, offer more services, and ensure they have a secure future.”