Salad Projects Oversight Body, which advocates on behalf of applicants for consumer credit, has appointed Lord McNicol of West Kilbride (Labour) and Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Conservative) as its joint chairs.
The Oversight Body’s mission is to work in the interests of all applicants to Salad Money, a social enterprise fighting financial exclusion and exploitation of NHS and public sector workers by providing an alternative to high-cost lending. Since the Body represents all applicants for credit, whether or not they become customers, it will give consumers declined for credit a voice which has been ignored by policymakers until now.
One of the Body’s core objectives is to campaign for policy and industry changes that will protect consumer credit users, and applicants who are declined for credit because they are financially vulnerable. Its work is informed by data and analysis. It recently published evidence demonstrating harmful gambling is increasing among financially vulnerable people, and distressingly, many are fueling an addiction to harmful gambling with credit they should not be able to access.
Salad Money specialises in affordable credit for NHS and public sector workers with impaired, poor or thin credit scores and among the UK’s millions of "credit invisibles.” It addresses financial exclusion by using Open Banking data and its own proprietary credit decisioning software for affordability assessments, rather than credit scoring.
This means it gives borrowers an alternative to high-cost lending – to date it has saved customers many millions of pounds in interest compared with the alternatives available to them. It has also helped nearly 7 out of 10 applicants identify hundreds of millions of pounds in benefits they were rightfully due but not claiming, thus helping many need less credit than they assumed, and given free financial education and bespoke support to well over 200,000 people.
Baroness Evans said:
“I am delighted to take on this role, helping protect and promote the interests of consumers using Salad Money's data-driven insights. By highlighting issues facing individuals, regardless of whether they are able to access credit, this work can play an important role in tackling financial exclusion and exploitation.”
Lord McNicol said:
“Tackling financial exclusion and giving struggling consumers a voice is something I have long campaigned for. I'm looking forward to continuing this vital advocacy work as part of the Salad Projects Oversight Body.”
The appointments boost Salad Projects’ ability to advocate for consumer credit applicants at a time when at least 1 in 3 adults now face difficulty accessing credit from mainstream lenders.
Tim Rooney, Salad Money CEO and board member of Responsible Finance, which represents the UK’s 50 community development finance institutions (CDFIs), said:
“Like most CDFIs, Salad Money declines many people for credit because they are financially vulnerable and it would be irresponsible to lend to them. We help hundreds of thousands of applicants build their financial resilience even if we can’t grant them affordable credit, but know that people declined for credit have often been ignored by regulators and policymakers. The Salad Projects Oversight Body will ensure their voice is heard. I am delighted that Baroness Evans and Lord McNicol are chairing it.”
In addition to the new appointments to the Salad Projects Oversight Body, Tracey O’Keefe, a specialist in maximising social value and building partnerships between the private, public and social sectors to deliver support to those who most need, has joined the board of Salad Finance Ltd (trading as Salad Money).