Furniture scheme to fight debt

COUNCIL chiefs will be asked to back a new £50,000 scheme to help provide struggling residents with furniture at affordable prices.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s senior cabinet committee will debate the Furniture Solutions Project when it next meets.

It is hoped the scheme will help in the council’s fight against poverty by preventing people on low incomes from building up debts they cannot afford to pay back.

The project would provide credit at reasonable rates for people to buy white goods, like fridges and cookers, and all kinds of furniture.

Dave Stubbs, director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said in a report: “For individuals and families on a tight budget, it is often the large unforeseen or unplanned expenses which drive them into debt for example, buying or replacing essential items of furniture.

“For those unable to get mainstream credit, the options for borrowing can be limited and extremely expensive.

“The scheme will strengthen the approach to tackling financial inclusion that is under way in Hartlepool to help more individuals and families out of the spiral of debt and deprivation.”

Funding of £50,000 has been earmarked in council coffers to help launch the scheme which would be run by an independent operator.

Council papers say research shows that housing tenancies are more likely to succeed when they have well-furnished and equipped homes.

But due to the tough economic climate there has been a big reduction in mainstream credit funding for vulnerable households who struggle to get credit.

To begin with, the target audience for the scheme would be anyone likely to be affected by financial exclusion.

Residents who take part in the project will also be directed to partner agencies for help with money and debt management, benefits, budgeting skills, and advice on grants and loans and money-saving tips.

The tender process to find a project host is due to start in September.

The cabinet committee, headed by Mayor Stuart Drummond, is due to discuss the scheme at its meeting on Monday, July 9.