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Credit to loan firm which helps poorest without trapping them in debt – Alasdair Davis

Much of the UK population is only one white goods breakdown away from financial hardship.

It is difficult for many families to access affordable credit and, as a result of limited options, some ­people turn to high cost lenders. Thousands of vulnerable families then find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of high cost debt which starts with a basic need to buy an essential ­household item.

However, there is an alternative. From its inception, Fair For You (FFY) wanted to offer a different way to ­borrow and set out to revolutionise the sector – making credit available to those who most need it with fair and transparent terms. FFY is helping to break the issue of high cost credit by offering an alternative – an affordable source of credit tailored to each ­family which ne to buy essential household goods.

FFY’s aim is to challenge high cost lenders, placing the customer in charge of their loan and providing a fair and honest service with advice, support and fair rates with no ­hidden charges.

FFY provides all the household essentials from fridges to bedroom furniture, and all are available with free delivery within four days, a critical benefit for society’s most deprived families and individuals.

FFY first came to Social Investment Scotland (SIS) in 2016 to secure ­funding to pilot and develop their affordable credit offering.

It secured a £250,000 loan through SIS’s Social Growth Fund. The Social Growth Fund, which is backed by partners including the Scottish ­Government, is designed to help charities and social enterprises have greater impacts and benefits in the communities in which they operate.

With this funding, FFY has successfully disrupted the market, providing an alternative to high cost ­lending for the country’s most vulnerable households and has become the UK’s number one flexible credit provider.

In 2019, as FFY’s ambitions continued to grow, it secured a further £1.5m loan from SIS to assist as it grows into a financially sustainable enterprise.

FFY has provided more than £1.6m worth of credit to over 2,500 ­customers across Scotland, ­collectively ­saving them over £1m through the avoidance of high cost credit, ­additional hidden charges, and ­unaffordable penalties for late ­payments.

That’s money that stays in the ­household to meet rent or other bills, helps to build up savings, is spent on other essentials, often for children, and helps to address the issues of ­poverty.

Social Investment Scotland ­provides investment for social enterprises, charities and organisations looking to make a real difference to people’s lives, society or the environment. Since launching in 2001, SIS has invested more than £80m in over 350 social enterprises across ­Scotland.

In May of this year, SIS announced the second Scottish Social Growth Fund, worth £17m and backed by the Scottish Government, Big Society Capital and The University of ­Edinburgh. The Scottish Social Growth Fund provides flexible social investment products between £250,000 and £1.7m and is available to charities and social enterprises throughout Scotland.

More details about SIS’s investments and its impacts can be found in the SIS annual Impact Report, which can be accessed at www.socialinvestmentscotland.com/social-impact-report-2019/

Alasdair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland.