Midlands’ Financial Exclusion Research Launched
Published by Dawn Prentice for Dawn Prentice Communications in Communities and also in Care and Support, Education, Environment, Health, Housing
Birmingham-based ‘thinktank’ the Human City Institute has joined forces with two major Midlands’ social landlords – WM Housing Group and Trident Social Investment Group – to research financial exclusion and debt in the region’s social housing sector. The research, currently underway, is an update of that carried out in the first quarter of 2011 by HCI and Compass, which revealed that social tenants are being squeezed by stagnant wages, rapidly rising living costs and pressures to take up high-cost credit. The research was undertaken as part of the Compass ‘end legal loan-sharking’ campaign headed by Stella Creasy MP. The results of the 2014 follow-up survey will be published by HCI in April.
Pat Brandum, Chief Executive of WM Housing Group said: “Some of our customers often struggle to make ends meet which is why we have invested in a range of support services and why we are developing a strategy for financial inclusion. HCI’s research will provide valuable insights into what we need to do to help our customers in the future. Previous research has shown us that some of our customers are trapped in a cycle of debt and that means they may be unable to pay their essential bills leading to more borrowing. Through our work and this research we hope to discover new ways of helping to break this cycle and help people to a greater sense of financial stability.”
Kevin Gulliver, Director of HCI said: “Social tenants are groaning under the strain of debt. Our 2011 research showed that tenants’ debt to income ratio is high. Indebted tenants spend on average 20p in every £1 of income on debt repayments, running only marginally behind spending on fuel and food. The research described a social tenant group which is highly credit dependent. And it discovered that social tenants constitute around six in ten financially excluded households of whom one in six have no bank account, eight in ten have no savings and nine in ten have no insurance cover. The 2014 research will update these findings and seek to determine the role of welfare reforms and the austerity programme in changing patterns of financial exclusion and debt in social housing. We fully expect the situation to have worsened which is why concerned social landlords like WM Housing Group and Trident Social Investment Group are developing strategies to cope with a poorer, more marginalised and debt-burdened tenant group.”