Programmes and Funding
Enabling sector change
We are working towards a financial sector that provides products and services to everyone who needs them, in a way that is successful and sustainable. We know that by doing this we will have improved people’s wellbeing and had a positive impact on society and the economy as a whole.
Our initial focus is on addressing the problem of access to affordable credit by providing support and funding for the affordable credit market.
We are committed to pursuing other innovations that meet the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances and we will soon be launching programmes on insurance and savings.
Transforming affordable credit
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. We believe customers in vulnerable circumstances and financial difficulty should have access to a fair and affordable credit option when appropriate to their circumstances. This option should be available from providers who charge a reasonable price based on risk and who treat customers with fairness and support to improve their situation throughout their journey with a lender.
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.
Our five focus areas
The five opportunity areas identified from our work to date
Building strong governance and a pipeline of transformational leaders and talent for the sector
Programmes and funding
All programmes are currently closed for applications. Future opportunities will be added to this page and shared widely on social media. Organisations that are eligible may apply for one or more of our programmes based on their needs.
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 the 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 Programme
After a successful pilot, we expanded our scale-up programme to support more affordable credit providers. 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.
The programme is designed to provide a package of tailored support to sustainably scale affordable credit as part of the wider transformation of financial services and to help the sector develop a sustainable model for serving people in vulnerable circumstances.
Watch our CEO Sacha Romanovitch introduce the Affordable Credit Scale-Up Programme:
Successful organisations will be given support tailored to their unique needs, informed by the organisations’ own assessment of needs and our detailed due diligence process. Support could comprise of either long-term equity-like investment or debt funding, grant funding to develop organisational capacity and capability, or a mixture of all.
The Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme is designed for ambitious organisations that are operationally sustainable, with a proven track record of serving customers in vulnerable circumstances without reliance on grant income. We are seeking applications from these organisations and please only apply if you are at this point. There will be future opportunities to engage with us for organisations earlier on their growth journeys.
The programme builds on our pilot programme which has been running since August 2019. The five organisations on this pilot programme – Enterprise Credit Union, Fair for You, Five Lamps, Leeds Credit Union and Moneyline – all received support tailored to the needs of their organisations to help them to scale.
Full details on the programme, including eligibility requirements and case studies of support given to our five pilot programme partners are available in our brochure.
Please note applications for this programme closed on Monday 22 June
Covid-19 Resilience Fund
Covid-19 presents significant financial challenges to millions of people across the country. At this time, it 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 launched a new Covid-19 Resilience 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
- 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
- To date we have committed c£3.1m of support to 23 responsible lenders
- These organisations collectively lent around £100m in the last year and serve 122,000 customers, meaning that this intervention helps to preserve around 40% of capacity targeted at people in vulnerable circumstances in the affordable credit sector
This support comprises a mixture of financial support to help organisations manage the impact of lost income and additional forbearance costs caused by the crisis on their organisational strength, and funding for technical support needed to adapt models to serve customers during this period.
Please note applications for this programme closed on Monday 22 June
Theory of Change
Our Theory of Change has been developed alongside the Esmèe Fairbairn Foundation in consultation with the affordable credit and financial inclusion sectors. It is intended to be a shared Theory of Change for every organisation that is contributing to solving the problem of a subscale provision of affordable credit in the UK. Fair4All Finance will work on part of this and in collaboration with others to drive systemic change.
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.
- Government and financial inclusion regulatorsGovernment and financial inclusion regulators
Government and financial inclusion regulatorsOver three million people use high-cost credit in the UK. However, there are affordable options available from credit unions and CDFIs who are committed to helping their communities. We will help these organisations serve more customers in a fair and affordable way, by developing their capacity and raising awareness of their services with groups who may need them.
- Financial inclusion advocates & researchersFinancial inclusion advocates & researchers
Financial inclusion advocates & researchersWe will collaborate to support the changes needed in society to deliver healthy credit for all and an effective safety net for those individuals who need it
- Financial guidance and debt advice providersFinancial guidance and debt advice providers
Financial guidance and debt advice providersWe want to work with organisations who are supporting vulnerable people and support them to deliver services which improve financial management skills and encourage savings behaviour. We also plan to work with this sector to help build local eco-systems that help customers navigate debt advice and access affordable loans
- Affordable credit providersAffordable credit providers
Affordable credit providersWe believe customers in vulnerable circumstances and financial difficulty should have access to a fair and affordable credit option when appropriate to their circumstances. This option should be available from providers who charge a reasonable price based on risk and who treat customers with fairness and support to improve their situation throughout their journey with a lender. Responsible lending makes up only a fraction of short-term lending in the UK. Each year, affordable credit providers make just £250m of loans, while over the same period, high-cost short-term credit providers lend £3bn, more than ten times as much. Our challenge is to grow the sector to meet this demand – we call this a “10x challenge”. Our scale-up programme is part of our approach to work with affordable credit providers to help them meet this scale.
- Credit reference agenciesCredit reference agencies
Credit reference agenciesWe intend to work with credit reference agencies to help make credit scoring fairer and ensure it gives a more realistic profile of individuals
- Commercial lendersCommercial lenders
Commercial lendersWe will work with commercial lenders to explore how they, along with Fair4All Finance, can support vulnerable customers
- Housing associationsHousing associations
Housing associationsOne of the ways we hope to address the problem of access to affordable credit is by helping to provide alternatives to credit, such as provision of white-goods and furniture rental, which we invision delivering through partnerships with Housing Associations and social enterprises. We also recognise housing associations as excellent routes to market for affordable credit providers
EmployersWe plan to explore the possibility of providing low-cost employee loans via employers
- Technology for good providersTechnology for good providers
Technology for good providersWe are interested in collaborating with providers of technology who could facilitate low-cost employee loan distribution. We are keen to explore how technology could transform credit scoring
- Insurance industryInsurance industry
Insurance industryWe plan to work with insurers to develop new affordable insurance initiatives, which protect against income shocks or increase the scale of home contents cover among low income groups