Ethical weekly payment store goes national
Published by Craig Downs for Derwentside Homes Ltd in Housing and also in Communities
Janet Howarth, financial inclusion co-ordinator, Yarlington Housing Group and Jacqui Grimes, programme manager, The Smarterbuys Store
A scheme which provides an affordable and ethical alternative to loan sharks and high street weekly payment stores has gone national – with two new stores set up in the south.
The Smarterbuys Store, a partnership between Northern Housing Consortium, Derwentside Homes and Prince Bishops Community Bank, provides social housing tenants with access to an online store, where they can buy new household essentials.
With ten housing providers now set up in the north, The Smarterbuys Store has started its campaign down south, with Yarlington Housing Group and Sovereign joining in the last month.
Janet Howarth, financial inclusion co-ordinator, at Yarlington, said: “Like many housing providers we found that our tenants were turning to high street payment stores, pay day or door step lenders when they needed to replace household items or furnish their home - simply because they had no other option. As a result they end up paying high interest rates and massively inflated prices for products.
“We decided to join the campaign to give our customers choice by setting up our own The Smarterbuys Store. So far it’s proving a real success with our tenants and it gives them confidence because it’s backed by their housing provider.”
The Smarterbuys Store is more than just a weekly payment store, as well as giving housing tenants access to responsible, affordable credit, it also encourages them to save as they buy, by putting 25p from every weekly payment into an account opened especially for them.
Jacqui Grimes, programme manager for The Smarterbuys Store, said: “As a registered charity customers can be sure that we have their interests in mind. We work on not-for-profit principles to save social housing tenants money, encourage them to save and importantly give them a choice if they need the option of weekly payments.
“Our products are up to 40% cheaper than other weekly payment stores and we have an ethical approach to lending. It’s a fantastic scheme which has seen some great success - but it really does rely on housing providers to join the campaign to make a real difference.”