Tag Archives: credit

Baroness Olly Grender writes…Give renters fair access to affordable credit #makerentcount

Creditworthiness, yet another poverty gap issue, is one that could be so easily closed.

You’ve paid your rent all your life in full on time. You go online to buy a washing machine. You fill in your credit details. But because you’re renting in social housing, that washing machine will cost you somewhere between £300 and almost £1,000 more than someone with a mortgage.

Over two thirds of renters, in private and social housing, pay their rent. Renters are often managing bills, juggling finances and paying a far higher proportion for their housing costs than many owner-occupiers.

Last week, The Big Issue’s John Bird introduced a Bill to make this fairer. It will mean that rent paid in the past, and council tax, will be included when someone applies for credit. It will ensure that renters have as much of a digital identity as owner-occupiers. It will make rent count.

A version of this scheme has already been set up by Big Issue Invest by using rental data. This brilliant project, the Rental Exchange, is transforming credit freedoms. In almost 80% of cases, tenants can gain an improved credit score when rent data is shared, and the evidence also shows a jump from 39% to 84% in digital identity authentication when rent data is included in credit files.

Fairness for renters was the reason for my Renters Rights Bill last year, which focused particularly on banning tenancy fees to lettings agents. Many Lib Dems got behind it and, thanks to our successful campaign, it’s now a Government Bill.

By 2021, nearly one in four of us will be renters, still paying the poverty premium, currently an additional £1,300 for the basics of energy, phones, white goods and furniture. But people living in poverty must not be forgotten about. The financial system drives renters into the arms of the most unscrupulous lenders, which, in turn, drives a vicious cycle of poverty.

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