Just six banks have signed up to the government's mortgage relief plan, it emerged yesterday, as Barclays, HSBC, Santander and Nationwide refused to back the scheme designed to support homeowners who have lost their jobs.

The banks bailed out by the taxpayer - Lloyds Banking Group, Northern Rock, RBS and Bradford & Bingley - have all signed up to the Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme, along with Cumberland Building Society, and Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks owned by National Australia Bank.

Yet when the government announced the scheme in December, it said that Nationwide, Barclays, HSBC and the Santander banks Abbey and Alliance & Leicester had also agreed in principle to participate. After months of negotiations, it has emerged that all of the non-nationalised banks have pulled out. They added they would "offer comparable arrangements to their customers, while opting not to take up the government guarantee'.

The Independent