Unlocking tenant financial resilience

A new report from Campbell Tickell and Fair4All finance aims to help housing associations and community finance providers build successful partnerships to improve tenants’ financial wellbeing


Image: Istock

Fionn Sharpe

Policy and Strategy Advisor, Fair4All Finance

Earlier this month Fair4All Finance and Campbell Tickell held a webinar to launch our new joint report, Unlocking Tenant Financial Resilience. This aims to help housing associations and community finance providers – such as credit unions and community development finance institutions (CDFIs) – build strong and successful partnerships. So, what are the key takeaways from the report and webinar?

Clear opportunity

At Fair4All Finance we believe there is a clear opportunity here. Partnerships that increase access to fair and affordable credit can provide a huge boost to tenant financial wellbeing and resilience. This in turn has profound benefits for housing associations, which can see improvements in rent arrears and tenancy sustainment.

In addition, there is a real appetite to do more among both sectors – we were delighted to see 125 attendees from housing associations and community finance organisations tuning in to the webinar.

The need for affordable credit

On the webinar, Fair4All Finance’s non-executive director, Ria Bailes, began by speaking powerfully about the reality of credit use in tenants’ lives and the challenges so many people face around financial resilience, highlighting that:

  • 80% of social housing tenants have no savings
  • 17% live without essential household items such as washing machines or fridges
  • Social renters are overrepresented among users of home-collected credit – and are also at greater risk from loan sharks, making up 45% of people helped by the England Illegal Money Lending team

Ria made the case that tackling this issue and supporting tenant financial wellbeing is a “core activity” for housing associations and that, as well as helping tenants, it should be seen as an investment.

Building successful partnerships

Maggie Rafalowicz, who led the work from Campbell Tickell’s side, set out key learnings from the report to help organisations set up their own partnerships. She outlined eight different models that partners can draw upon and talked through the characteristics of successful partnerships, such as sustained commitment and proper business planning.

Maggie also highlighted that, contrary to widespread perception, there is no barrier from the financial regulator to signposting to affordable credit. In fact, the Financial Conduct Authority has introduced a specific exclusion allowing social landlords to refer tenants to credit unions and CDFIs without requiring FCA authorisation.

“Contrary to widespread perception, there is no barrier from the financial regulator to signposting to affordable credit.”

Tenant financial resilience

Attendees then heard two case studies of organisations involved in supporting tenant financial resilience.

  1. James Wilkinson from Fair For You, which provides ethical loans for household goods, demonstrated the huge benefits that affordable credit can have for customers. 71% of Fair For You customers were able to stop using high-cost credit; 60% were better able to pay household bills; and half reported being less stressed, anxious or depressed as a result of the service.
  2. Stephanie Noyce, from Clarion Futures, described how Clarion established its long-standing relationship with Leeds Credit Union, integrating this into its wider financial support offer to tenants, and emphasising the importance of regular contact and trust in successful partnerships.

During the Q&A, panellists discussed challenges around boosting take-up by tenants and how partners can effectively promote services. Lauren Peel, from Fair4All Finance, set out how “great partnerships don’t happen by accident”. Our report provides organisations with the tools they need to start collaborating, but partnerships will take action, investment and commitment to succeed.

Next steps

We hope the guidance and case studies in the report help organisations build strong partnerships that improve tenant financial resilience. Fair4All Finance is also offering to support up to three partnerships to deliver on the learnings from the report. We’ll work to address barriers to delivery and continue to share best practice with the wider sector.

We’re looking for organisations with an agreed commitment, whether it’s a brand-new partnership or refreshing an existing one. We’ll be starting this work in the second quarter of 2022 and expect it to run for up to six months. If you’re interested in taking part, please complete this short form as an expression of interest by 30 December, and we look forward to working with you.


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