Membership of The Equity Release Council has passed the 250 mark, under a year since the trade body first opened its doors to participants from across the UK’s equity release industry.
With the first anniversary of its relaunch approaching in May 2013, The Council’s membership now includes advisers, lawyers, surveyors, charities and other groups alongside providers, with each one committing to uphold the principles and standards set out to protect consumers of equity release.
The first nine months of The Council’s work has seen senior politicians and industry figures back its newly appointed Standards and Advisory Boards. Council members have also formed a range of cross-industry working groups, designed to build on the SHIP legacy by – among other priorities – promoting awareness of the specialist advice, quality products and stringent safeguards available to over-55s looking to release equity from their home.
The Council is working to expand its current membership during 2013 among new and existing participants in the equity release market. As well as attempting to influence government policy in related areas, it is also campaigning for a single department to take ownership of equity release, bringing greater clarity to the subject and supporting the drive to improve awareness and understanding.
Nigel Waterson, chairman of The Equity Release Council, said: “Ever since we opened our doors to the wider equity release industry, we have encouraged more members to join The Council and play an active part in shaping the future of our sector. The strength and diversity of our membership will be vital to tackle the challenges ahead, not least to protect and build on the high standards of practice that exist in today’s industry.
“We need only to look at the debate over long-term care costs to see how equity release has a role to play as a fundamental part of people’s retirement planning. So many people see their homes as places of comfort and security, and it’s vital that we convey the message that, financially, their housing equity can offer the same to them in retirement without the need to sell their homes.
“I look forward to welcoming new members to The Council as we approach our first anniversary, and working together to raise the public and political profile of equity release.”