Posted by editor 07/05/2013 1 Comment 7370 views


Rebecca Taylor used to be one of the millions who struggled every day to pay for some of the ordinary things in life because she couldn’t get credit from mainstream providers. But now she is happy to sing the praises of Moneyline, an extraordinary award-winning social enterprise providing low-cost loans in the high street.

“It’s all about family really,” affirms Taylor, a mum of two from Stoke-On-Trent, “trying to improve our lives, going on holiday, doing things we couldn’t otherwise afford to do.

“I always see the same person in the branch,” says Taylor of her special relationship, “Actually, they are really lovely.” Okay, when was the last time you heard that said about a lender, but then, this is definitely a lender with a difference.

Moneyline began life as East Lancashire Moneyline in Blackburn in 2002, the vision of Ian Clough, a banking veteran committed to creating a fairer system for lower income families trying to access credit. “(These families) are excluded from mainstream finance because generally they only want a low value short-term loan,” says Moneyline chief finance officer Diane Burridge, “and a traditional bank will make very little out of that and won’t get the opportunity to cross-sell other products like life insurance or home insurance.”

And while there are many other ways of accessing credit, including doorstep and online lenders, the rates of interest tend to be exorbitant and intimidating. Set up as an Industrial And Provident Society, a kind of mutual, for the benefit of the community with no shareholders, Moneyline aims to provide these all important low-interest loans, combined with a personalised approach that works out what is genuinely best for the customer.

“We position the loan so we are only lending them what they can afford to repay, and position this with the customer as a responsibility shift,” says Burridge. Mouldbreaking Moneyline then encourages various types of positive financial behaviour such as opening bank accounts, and creating savings. “We make it flexible,” she adds. “If someone has a loan repayment of £7 a week, if we see they can afford it we suggest they make it £10 a week and we will pay the difference into a savings account.”

Moneyline, a recipient of responsible lending awards and entrepreneurial accolades, has made over 50,000 loans, opened over 12,000 savings accounts, and employs 60 staff in its 15 outlets dotted around the North, North Nest and North Wales serving a demographic of low-income households, most receiving benefits of some kind. Seventy per cent of their customers are women, who tend to be the financial organisers in low-income families, and many are single parents with multiple dependents.

They have just received an investment of nearly £1m from Big Issue Invest (TSELF) alongside Big Society Capital to extend their work and develop hugely innovative plans for the future including mobile lending. Not bad for an 11-year-old business working face to face with a client group most financial organisations ignore.

But it is the old institutions that Burridge, for one, is looking at: “Behaving like an old -fashioned bank is at the heart of what we do,” she says, “this is a return to a relationship banking model. The relationship with the customer is absolutely key in taking them on this financial journey. It’s about treating the customer as an individual.”

And those individual needs usually stem from the family behind them: “We tend to have peak areas of borrowing throughout the year based around family life and family activity. It will get busy towards easter and summer and in autumn around kids going back to school,” says Burridge, “or maybe if your washing machine breaks down or you may even need to meet the cost of a funeral.”

And Rebecca Taylor is no exception: “I’ve had about five consecutive loans for things like home improvements, flooring, holidays,” says this happy customer delighted not to be paying high interest rates to a lender who has no interest in her welfare. “I always make my payments on time but some people struggle, and Moneyline will manage people’s payments. They are very helpful. I even phoned their head office to say how lovely they were!”




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