Debt on Teesside: Pathways to Financial Inclusion

Peer support workshops Promoting Positive Household Experiences.

Between 2011 and 2013, Thrive Teesside and Durham University’s Centre for Social Justice and Community Action worked with low-income households ( link to case studies) experiencing high levels of debt in Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees. The project (link to Debt on Teesside report) collected detailed financial information from 24 households, offered financial mentoring and ran campaigns on predatory lending.

Funded by a grant from the Northern Rock Foundation, our partners in this work included Stockton and District Advice and Information Service, Tandem Finance Project – Fabrick Housing Group and The Five Lamps Organisation (providing mentors and sitting on the advisory group); along with Tees Credit Union, Teesside University.

Following develents in the field of high-cost credit, included: new Financial Conduct Authority regulations; legislation to introduce a cap on the charges for highcost, short-term credit; bans by several NE local authorities on payday loan advertising; and the further expansion of credit unions. Yet, it was felt, still more action was needed to stop the growth of predatory lending and provide support and viable alternatives for people who find themselves locked into a spiral of unmanageable debt. In particular, issues that continuously need to be explored include: the latest thinking on viable low-cost alternatives to payday loans; new roles for local authorities, third sector organisations and the banking sector in tackling the high-cost credit problem; and the place of community-based money mentoring and how it works. Thrive co-hosted an event with the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, Durham University – Tackling the Personal Debt Crisis in the North East which provided an opportunity to take stock of issues in the North East and examine the potential for further developments in national and local policy and practice.