Our first focus area: Access to affordable credit

Transformational change

Our work aims to improve the financial resilience of individuals and communities. Our initial focus is on addressing the problem of access to affordable credit by providing support and funding for the affordable credit market.

For the millions of people in the UK excluded from access to mainstream credit, fair and affordable lenders like credit unions and CDFIs provide a lifeline.

The demand for high cost credit is currently ~£3bn a year and affordable credit just ~£250m a year

Scaling the affordable credit sector so it can become truly competitive with high cost credit requires transformational change – we call this a 10x challenge. 

Scales showing the size of the challenge

Programmes and funding

Pilot Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme 

In August 2019 we launched a pilot scale up programme of capability development for five organisations in the affordable credit sector; Enterprise Credit Union, Fair for You, Five Lamps/Conduit, Leeds City Credit Union and Moneyline. 

The aim of this pilot programme is to improve the access, availability and affordability of credit to people in vulnerable circumstances with an emphasis on enabling alternative lenders to scale to prove models for sustainable serving this customer group. 

We have worked with five organisations to conduct a detailed business diagnostic into each of them and understand how we can best support sustainable growth of the organisations and the wider sector. 

  • We have summarised our overall learning and developed some early recommendations for the sector in our report Transforming Affordable Credit in the UK
  • We have committed to a tailored package of support and investment for each of the organisations to help them scale sustainably

Affordable Credit Scale-up Programmeopens in mid-late May   

We are expanding our scale-up programme to support more affordable credit providers. 

The Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme is designed to provide a package of tailored support to sustainably scale affordable credit as part of the wider transformation of financial services.  

  • An expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme will help the sector to play its part in the 10x growth challenge in the delivery of affordable credit to people in vulnerable circumstances

Covid-19 Resilience Fund open

Covid-19 presents significant financial challenges to millions of people across the country. At this timeit is more important than ever that the financial system is supportive of their needs and helps them to maintain their wellbeing through some financial security.  

We know that the effects of this crisis on the affordable credit sector are already challenging and may become even more so, and we have launched a new fund to help the sector emerge in a resilient state

  • The Covid-19 fund will provide up to £5m in grant funding to CDFIs and credit unions in England in the coming months in response to the pandemic

Apply for support 

For more information about our Scale-up programme and Covid-19 Resilience Fund please view the information pack: Covid-19 Resilience Fund and Scale-up Programme

Organisations that are eligible may apply for an individual programme or both based on their needs. 

Future programmes

We are committed to pursuing other innovations that meet the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances and in addition to our work on affordable credit we will be launching programmes on insurance and savings. Solutions could potentially include:

Supporting insurance initiatives that protect against income shocks or increase the scale of home contents cover

Developing programmes and interventions that encourage savings behaviour

If you’ve got a bold idea that you think we should be exploring, please connect with our team.

Partners

We are keen that our work adds to other great work that is already happening in this space and are committed to working collaboratively. We are currently in the process of meeting with a wide range of stakeholders across the public, private and third sectors as outlined below:
  • Government and financial inclusion regulators
    Government and financial inclusion regulators
  • Financial inclusion advocates & researchers
    Financial inclusion advocates & researchers
  • Financial guidance and debt advice providers
    Financial guidance and debt advice providers
  • Affordable credit providers
    Affordable credit providers
  • Credit reference agencies
    Credit reference agencies
  • Commercial lenders
    Commercial lenders
  • Housing associations
    Housing associations
  • Employers
    Employers
  • Technology for good providers
    Technology for good providers
  • Insurance industry
    Insurance industry

Get involved

If you operate in the financial inclusion space and would like to help us in our mission to end financial exclusion, please get in touch.