Thank you to Chris Bennett from Fair for You for this week’s blog focusing on affordable credit. Chris is a guest speaker at the upcoming RACA Online Information Session on Tuesday 11th May 2021 at 10.00 – 11.15am. Find out more about the event by clicking here.
When setting up Fair for You Enterprise CIC (FFY) in late 2015 we had a few ideas as to the effect that access to the service would provide. By building a credit process putting control into the hands of the users, and at a lower cost than could be accessed by many we expected that a range of financial savings would be evident. What was subsequently reported clearly shows that better servicing of the demographic has a dramatic impact on overall quality of life on whole households.
Fair for You Ltd, the Charity owner of FFY, has commissioned a total of four independent Social Impact Reports completed by the Centre for Responsible Credit. In the latest report released in September 2020 over 20 types of positive, immediate, qualitative customer impacts were identified. Having now served c45,000 Families as of April 2021 it is expected that FFY has delivered almost £68 million of social value. Other headline findings of the latest report include:
The 20 types of customer impacts identified can be split into two main categories:
More information, including examples, for each are provided below. Further reading on the reports can be found here: www.fairforyou.org.uk/reports/
FFY wouldn’t be where it is today, or be able to support families without the amazing partnerships we have with our retailers. Currently, customers can use credit provided by FFY via our loan products to shop with:
Working with our retail partners we are able to offer customers the ability to purchase essential household items that they may have otherwise been unable to. FFY also provide our retail partners the opportunity to serve a demographic that may not have previously been available with many customers unable to make unexpected purchases outright.
Product specific benefits are identified as benefits arising from the way the credit was used to access essential household items. The focus in this area has mostly been on the positive impacts that obtaining items that would have otherwise been unobtainable had on the health (both physical and mental) of customers and their families.
For example, one customer describes how she had just had 3 operations on her spine and needed a decent mattress, but the cost of buying outright had left her without. She describes the mattress she was able to purchase with a loan from FFY as “a lifesaver”, and that “Without it, my health would have deteriorated.”
Another customer caring for her daughter with autism noted that access to a washer dryer helped her to manage her care responsibilities as “there was no way I could get down all the flights of stairs from the flat, hang my washing out, and look after her.”
Financial benefits are identified as more than just direct customer savings, but also include the outcomes of having greater control of their finances that comes with being able to choose their preferred payment amount, timescale & frequency as well as how missed payments are dealt with.
One customer noted the impact of the direct cost saving on their food shop. When using another lender they “were just barely getting through, getting food shopping but it was very minimal”, but having used FFY they now “have a bigger option to eat what we want, when we want.”
Another customer mentioned that using FFY has helped them to pay off debts which previously led to bailiffs going to their door. Living in debt resulted in her losing sleep and concentration at work, as well as telling her sons “Don’t answer the door to anybody because you don’t know who is knocking on the door.” Since using FFY she can now “go to work and I know that the boys are safe and I haven’t got to worry about people coming to the door.”
Originally FFY had to prove that this business model works – that you can support families with affordable lending and be sustainable. ✔️
Then we had to prove that there was a demand for this service and that customers find it useful (see our over 10,000 5 star reviews on Trustpilot). ✔️
Finally we had to prove that the service was having a real social impact on families who use it, putting them in a better position than when they found us. ✔️
Now it is time to do more, and to help to support even more families. FFY’s current service is not the solution for everyone, for example where credit is not suitable a grant may be a better choice for the short term emergency. However, FFY is continuing to expand its reach, offering support to more and more families with the development of new products, process and addition of new retailers to better serve the demographic (including a current pilot linking open banking with thin credit files to support those who may have otherwise been excluded).
Awareness and funding however remain the 2 biggest issues for us to reach those who need us the most. As a not for profit budgets are extremely tight, especially that of the marketing budget which means most families simply do not know we exist as an option. The demographic we lend to also makes funding extremely difficult to acquire, with reliance heavily on social investors. These are areas that we will continue to work on with our amazing partners to help break down the barrier for more families in need.
If there are any areas you think you may be able to support in, or would like to find out more please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.