Building society offers a lifeline to tenants

10 Jun 99
Housing associations and community groups were this week invited to copy a savings and loans scheme established in Cambridge to improve low-income tenants' access to affordable loans.

11 June 1999

The Cambridge Housing Society and the Cambridge Building Society have been working together for 18 months running the New Horizons scheme.

The two societies this week broadened the scheme's membership so that other local housing associations and community groups can join, and urged other bodies to set up similar schemes nationwide.

Typical credit unions provide members with a means of saving and access to low-cost loans, thus avoiding the need to use loan sharks – who were found to be charging annual interest rates of 300% in Cambridge.

New Horizons is more accessible than traditional credit unions because tenants can open accounts and use any of the 20 branches of the Cambridge Building Society to make deposits.

It has also been possible for members to obtain interest on savings immediately, and gain access to loans earlier than would have been possible with a typical credit union.

Richard Newcombe, chief executive of the Cambridge Housing Society, said: 'For tenants without banking facilities, New Horizons offers a secure place for their savings and access to short-term credit at a reasonable rate of interest. It offers a real choice to tenants and access to financial services. It is the type of service that middle-class people take for granted.'


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