LDV staff caught in mortgage trap
Dozens of workers at LDV struggling to keep a roof over their heads are being denied mortgage protection payments by a “Catch 22” loophole.
Workers are having to wait weeks to claim Jobseeker allowances of as little as £60.50 - and cannot defer their mortgages despite years of paying insurance on their home loans.
Insurance firms have told staff at the Washwood Heath factory that they will not provide cover payments because the workers are still employed by the van-maker.
Many employees, who have been off work since December 12, have now been left with only their dwindling savings to cover mortgage payments as the future of the company remains in serious doubt.
The wife of one worker - who asked not to be named - said: “All the workers are claiming Jobseekers Allowance while the production closure drags on.
“We were informed by the company we pay mortgage protection to that we cannot claim on our insurance because my husband still has a contract. A lot of the workers will be in the same situation.
“Now, if they don’t go back to work at the start of April we won’t be able to meet our mortgage payment for May so after that who knows what mess we and a lot of the other blokes will more than likely be in.
“I am scared we may be repossessed if we can’t pay. Insurance protection just seems a con-trick. You think you’re safe but you’re not really. It’s like being stuck in limbo, having a job but not being paid for it.
“At least if they were made redundant we would not have to worry about losing our home. These insurance people have taken our money for about five years but have now wangled out of paying.”
LDV PR and Marketing Director Guy Jones said: “We are aware of the situation but there is nothing we can do - employees are entitled to Jobseekers Allowance when they are not being paid by us.
“We never envisaged that this situation would drag on so long. We paid our employees at full rates as long as we could - we had not planned to be in this scenario for this length of time.
“The company will see if there is anything we can do - I will pick it up with colleagues in Human Resources - but other than lobbying to change the rules I do not think there is a great deal we can do.
“These workers are in a Catch 22 situation. We don’t want to make the entire workforce redundant so that they can claim benefits.”
Due diligence is still being undertaken on LDV by potential investors - thought to be Indian group Mahindra and Mahindra - as the battle to secure a management buyout continues.
Meanwhile, Birmingham City Council is also drawing up a series of potential measures to help LDV following “constructive” talks between the van-maker and council leader Mike Whitby on Monday.
If the MBO is finally agreed with the help of a bridging loan from the Government, LDV hopes to relaunch on April 6 on a three-day week basis, making electric vans for the commercial market.