4 Dec 2008

Britain announces new economic measures

11:17 am on 4 December 2008

The British government has announced new measures aimed at offsetting the worst effects of the economic crisis.

In the Queen's Speech on Wednesday, the government said fighting the economic downturn was its "overriding priority" for the year ahead.

Proposed legislation includes preventing another banking crisis and protecting depositors.

People hit by the downturn will also be able to defer part of their mortgage interest payments for up to two years.

The plan is designed to give those who lose their jobs or suffer a big cut in income extended breathing space if they are facing repossession.

The lender and homeowner will agree on the proportion of payment to be deferred, but it could be up to 100%.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown made the announcement after the Queen's Speech.

He said eight major mortgage lenders had signed up to the plan, which will start early in the new year and is meant to cut the risk of homes being repossessed.

The BBC reports the announcement came amid predictions that repossession numbers could rise to 75,000 next year.