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16 June 2011, 13:05
More than 250 people are set to be the first customers of a failed Hampshire based bank to benefit from higher compensation payouts from the savings safety net.
About 270 people, who collectively had £7.4 million saved with Southsea Mortgage and Investment Company, will receive up to £85,000 each from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
It is the first time that customers of a bank have benefited from the higher compensation levels that came into force at the beginning of the year, although the FSCS has paid money to members of failed credit unions since the new rules were introduced.
Customers had an average of just over £27,000 each saved with the bank in Havant, suggesting that some people would have lost out if the old £50,000 limit was still in place.
Even with the higher limit, 14 customers will not get all of their money back from the FSCS and will have to go through the insolvency process to try to regain the rest.
The small bank, which lent money for local housing developments, got into difficulties in 2008 following a default on some of its property development loans.
It took over the developments itself, with a view to selling on the properties to cover the losses made on the loans, but it was unable to do this.
The majority of customers at the bank will receive compensation from the FSCS in seven days under the new rules, while those with more complex cases should get their cash within 20 working days.
People who also have a mortgage or loan with the bank will receive compensation equal to the savings they have lost, rather than having the money deducted from their outstanding debt as was previously the case.
Anyone with a Southsea mortgage or loan has been advised to continue making repayments as usual.
Southsea customers do not need to do anything, as the FSCS will send them their compensation automatically.
Customers with an ISA will receive a certificate from BDO, which has been appointed as liquidator, so that the money does not lose its tax-free status.
People who are not eligible for compensation from the FSCS, which only covers individuals and small businesses, may be able to reclaim some of their money through the insolvency process.