Scotland’s poorest families set to benefit from investment to tackle high cost credit
October 2, 2018
Scotland’s most disadvantaged families are to benefit from a £500k investment to help tackle high cost credit and allow not-for-profit credit provider, Fair for You, to expand its services in Scotland.
The investment from the Affordable Credit Loan Fund, set up by the Carnegie UK Trust backed by the Scottish Government, will enable Fair for You, which specialises in loans to buy essential home items, to offer 3,000 more loans to customers in Scotland each year for the next ten years. The news comes just weeks after the collapse of pay-day lender, Wonga.
It’s expected that the extra loans being made available to Scottish customers will account for £15m in savings for those taking out credit with Fair for You over the next ten years.
Sir John Elvidge, Chair of the Carnegie UK Trust, said: “Pay day lenders have been at the forefront of the news agenda; we’ve seen the recent collapse of Wonga and most recently it was reported that CashEuroNet spent more money dealing with complaints in the first half of the year than it made in profits.
“The poverty premium** means that people who can least afford to borrow money usually pay the most to do so.”
“Our Affordable Credit Loan Fund and national Action Group are seeking to bring new solutions to the affordable credit debate, with a focus on identifying sustainable, not for profit alternatives to the commercial high cost credit market. We are delighted that our first investment has been made to Fair for You to help Scottish customers better manage the affordable credit options available to them.”
Over the last two and a half years, Fair for You, has built its reputation to become the ‘UK’s number one trusted credit provider’ on Trust Pilot, helping around 6,000 Scottish customers with over £1.7 million loan funds. Scottish customers have already saved more than £2.8million.
The average loan amount taken by Fair for You customers for an essential home item is £305, saving customers, on average, more than £500*, compared to a similar loan taken from a high cost credit provider, their only realistic alternative.
It is estimated that around 150,000 people in Scotland borrow £250 million from high cost lenders like pay day loan firms, door step lenders and Rent-to-Own shops annually***.
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “The Affordable Credit Loan Fund ensures there is a clear alternative for people to access credit and not need to turn to payday lenders, which can often charge extortionate interest rates and leave people trapped in a cycle of debt. I’m pleased that the fund is supporting not-for-profit organisations like Fair For You to expand their services in Scotland.
“The £1 million commitment to the fund was a key part of the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, so it is fitting that the first recipients of the fund are announced during Challenge Poverty Week. Insecurity of income is one of the biggest challenges faced by those in poverty. We will continue to work with the Carnegie UK Trust and the community lending sector to ensure that everyone has access to the financial products they need to help them get on in life.”
John Chalmers, Chair of the National Affordable Credit Action Group, said: “We are delighted that the mission driven loan fund established earlier this year by Carnegie UK Trust will support Fair For You. We have followed their progress with admiration, and they meet our criteria, as a not for profit, sustainable, alternative that supports those who need the products they offer the most. This investment will help families across all of Scotland.”
Angela Clements, the CEO of Fair for You, said: “This isn’t just about offering more money to tightly squeezed lower income households but removing material poverty that impacts the wellbeing of the entire household is vital. We are grateful for the investment from Carnegie Trust and Scottish Government which over the ten years that the funds are available to us will see us able to do so much more.”
The Affordable Credit Loan Fund, which was launched earlier this year by Hollywood actor Michael Sheen, has been set up by the Carnegie UK Trust in partnership with the Scottish Government, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and administered and managed by Social Investment Scotland (SIS) to increase the availability of affordable loans to Scotland’s lowest income households.
Alastair Davis, the CEO of Social Investment Scotland, said: “We are delighted to have been able to provide the first investment from the Affordable Credit Loan Fund to Fair for You, who we have worked with for some time. We look forward to working with Angela and her team as they continue to expand their activity in Scotland but also to supporting other affordable credit providers to scale their activity and support even more low-income households.”
** over 690,000 people in Scotland still living in severe poverty (Scottish Government severe poverty report). For Single adults in severe poverty this means getting by on £160 a week or less; for a single parent with two children the figure is £290 a week; and for couples with two children the figure is £370 a week.
*** Estimate calculated using the latest available Financial Conduct Authority data on high cost borrowing and extrapolated conservatively to estimate values for the Scotland population.
The Carnegie UK Trust has focussed on identifying practical, sustainable alternatives for low-income households’ borrowing needs since the publication of the Gateway to Affordable Credit report in 2016. The Trust has made a formal commitment in the Scottish Government’s Fairer Scotland Action Plan to work with partners in Scotland to advance this agenda and convenes Scotland’s cross-sectoral Affordable Credit Action group, led by former Moderator of the General Assembly and Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland, the Very Reverend Dr. John Chalmers.
Please find the Carnegie UK Trust’s report called Gateway to Affordable Credit here.
Photograph by Alan Morrison, ASM Media & PR
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