77 year old man scales bank building in protest against UBS

 

Today (Saturday) police were called when a 77 year old man scaled the front of the UBS office on Sun Street, London – not to be confused with the UBS-owned office building just opposite, which currently houses the Occupy London-associated community centre, Bank of Ideas.

At around 3pm a group of pensioners assembled outside the UBS headquarters holding placards to protest against the now notorious ‘shared appreciation mortgage’ scheme, which has blighted the lives of thousands of British pensioners.

Shared appreciation mortgages, which were aggressively marketed to thousands of households in the nineteen nineties, have left elderly people up and down the country stranded in unsuitable homes. The mortgages, which leave the lender as the major beneficiary of house price rises, means that elderly homeowners have been left unable to move home. Elderly people often need to move into more suitable places for various reasons – but SAM victims ended up trapped because, having lost up to three quarters of the value of their existing property, they couldn’t afford to buy anew. [1]

The elderly man who gave his name as Brian said “Having worked for a lifetime we have literally had the rug snatched from under our feet.”

UBS, as one of the biggest backers of this controversial form of secured lending, reaped massive profits from these deals but, unlike other banks, refused to launch a rescue package for those affected, despite owning 2.2 trillion Swiss francs’ worth of assets.

Labour MP John McDonnell sent a message of solidarity to the protestors earlier in the day, saying he could not be there as he was visiting his constituency but sending his “support and best wishes.”

The man was not arrested and was released by police when he promised not to climb back up the building.

Additional images now available courtesy of Matthew Cunningham: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_no/sets/72157628163854107

Notes

[1] Shared appreciation mortgages: ‘cheap money’ backfires on borrowers
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/borrowing/mortgages/5329469/Shared-appreciation-mortgages-cheap-money-backfires-on-borrowers.html

 
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