The Smarterbuys Store, an organisation that helps provide affordable loans to people to buy household goods, announces it has lent a total of £1 million to families across the UK and is embarking on an ambitious growth plan with the backing of ethical bank Charity Bank.
An early adopter of the scheme, Bradford-based social landlord Incommunities joined the fair-lending pilot in September last year when it opened a Smarterbuys Store for its customers in one of the housing group’s neighbourhood bases in the heart of Bradford city centre.
The store helps people living in social housing in the district to obtain affordable finance to purchase furniture, white goods and electrical items. People can order through Incommunities’ Smarterbuys website – www.incommunities.sbstore.org – or in store and pay for items weekly over a two-year term. Incommunities has invested in a loan pot to help tenants purchase and Charity Bank is partially match- funding this.
Geraldine Howley, chief executive of Incommunities, said: “Working with Charity Bank and the Northern Housing Consortium we became the first Yorkshire and Humber housing association to open a Smarterbuys outlet.
“In the five months since it opened, 250 customers have already entered into affordable credit schemes with us and around 800 customers a week are visiting the store.
“We are committed to providing responsible financial assistance and advice to our customers, many of whom face living with tight household budgets and this scheme is a great way for us to do just that.”
Patrick Crawford, chief executive of Charity Bank, says: “Increasing numbers of people are turning to door-step and high-interest lenders to obtain credit to buy the things that they need, often trapping themselves in a cycle of debt.
“We are delighted to support Incommunities. We are backing the Smarterbuys Store to enable it to offer responsible finance options to more people looking for essential household items and to act as an alternative to high-interest lenders or loan sharks. We support its mission to provide a responsible credit route for low-income households and strengthen their financial resilience.”
So far the Smarterbuys Store has teamed up with 15 housing associations and 1 local authority to deliver the scheme with 4 others in the pipeline.