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By Julia Bradshaw | Published Jun 13, 2012

Home improvement agencies gain Just Retirement training

The retirement product provider is piloting a project with Foundations, the national body for home improvement agencies, which is aimed at helping homeowners on low incomes be more independent by making their properties safer and more comfortable.

More than 240 case workers from 48 home improvement agencies have received training from Just Retirement. This will let them help people who could potentially benefit from releasing equity in their properties to fund essential home repairs and adaptations.

During the six-month pilot, clients who want to know more about equity release will be introduced to Just Retirement Solutions for professional advice.

To maximise affordability, the provider has created a special equity release product for the plan, with lower fees than standard and the option to add fees to the loan, and £700 cashback.

Stephen Lowe, director of Just Retirement, said if the pilot is successful he hopes to roll it out to all 200 home improvement agencies across the country.

He said: “Equity release is moving into the mainstream as a financial solution. It is increasingly a way for people to top up their retirement income due to lower annuity rates and for those struggling to overcome significant hardship.

“The number of older people is rising quickly and at a time when government funding is being squeezed, the result is people are unable to carry out essential home repairs and adaptations.

“Where people have few other choices, equity release has the potential to transform lives, making it possible for them to continue to live more comfortably in their own homes.”

Andy Chaplin, director of Foundations, said: “This will provide increased choice for vulnerable homeowners at a time when more conventional funding sources have been curtailed.”

Mr Lowe added: “This project makes sure those considering equity release receive high quality professional advice and clearly understand their options. They will be encouraged to have a relative, friend or case worker involved and there will be no obligation to proceed.”

Lorreine Kennedy, IFA for Hertfordshire-based CareMatters, said: “What Just Retirement is doing is a great thing. I work with the over 55s and I still see too many people living in large properties in one room because they can’t afford to heat the house.

“It is so distressing, so just a little extra income through equity release can really change people’s lives for the positive in incredible ways. However, the adviser has to be of the right calibre.”

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