Bank bosses snub Sheffield cancer patient plea

Request: Matthew asked for help with mortgage.
Request: Matthew asked for help with mortgage.
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A SELF-employed man diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia aged just 29 is calling on his mortgage lender to show more compassion for his plight.

Stepfather-of-two Matthew Pearson has not left hospital since being diagnosed with the illness and was put on an intensive course of chemotherapy within a week.

Matthew, from Ecclesfield, contacted his bank, the Halifax, to ask for a ‘payment holiday’ on his mortgage, to pre-empt the possibility of him falling behind on his monthly payments.

But he claims the lender refused his request.

Matthew, a self-employed mortgage broker himself, said: “Ideally I would like a payment holiday but I was told by the bank that wasn’t possible.

“They offered to put me on a pre-arranged payment plan, but that will mean I am reported to a credit agency and black marked - which will affect my business account.”

Speaking from his hospital bed, Mr Pearson said: “It’s devastating. I am trying to be proactive before I get into trouble financially and they won’t help.

“I just find the attitude very unsympathetic. It’s hard enough to be going through something like this but this just adds insult to injury.

“I’ve been a good customer of the bank for 10 years and I have my mortgage, current account and a loan with them.

“Before I was diagnosed with leukaemia, I was about to expand my business and open an office.”

A Halifax spokesman said: “We do have criteria in place around payment holidays concerning the level of equity in a property.

“This is because during any period where payments are not being received on the account, it will increase the level of outstanding debt.

“Therefore, we do not believe it is an appropriate solution for borrowers with low or negative equity.”

The spokesman added: “We have reviewed options that would significantly reduce Mr Pearson’s payments.

“We will be writing to him to offer a temporary switch to an interest-only basis.

“This will reduce the amount due every month.

“However, we will continue to review the situation with Mr Pearson and if the new payments are not manageable we will be able to discuss if there are other options available.”