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THE search is on for a community or voluntary sector organisation to run a scheme to give people easier access to affordable furniture and other household items.

The idea to launch a scheme came from a Hartlepool Borough Council scrutiny investigation into child poverty and financial inclusion.

It highlighted the potential benefits of a scheme which would make it easier for families, particularly those receiving benefits, to acquire furniture and “white goods” such as kitchen electrical equipment.

The scheme should, as a minimum, have two key elements:

l Provide credit to people at reasonable rates to enable them to buy household items;

l Offer new and good quality re-used “white goods”, furniture and other furnishings at affordable prices.

The scheme will be awarded as a single contract to an organisation which can deliver both elements, either directly or by sub-contracting.

Gemma Day, the council’s principal regeneration officer, said: “Due to the economic climate, vulnerable households are increasingly being denied credit and they find themselves pushed towards non-mainstream credit providers who charge punitive rates.

“This scheme will help provide fairer, more affordable credit to enable them to afford essential household items and help lift them out of the spiral of debt.”

Any organisations interested in the possibility of providing the service are asked to submit an expression of initial interest to the council by noon on Wednesday, October 10 via email to gemma.day@hartlepool.gov.uk

For more information call Ms Day on (01429) 523598.