Alternative to payday lenders offered at new discount site

A new discount website will encourage hard-up people to turn to credit unions rather than become loan shark victims.

Smarterbuys.org.uk will be launched by the social housing organisation Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) on Monday and will offer cut-price household items. To attract buyers, one national deal a month will be offered at half normal prices.

But the site will also lead shoppers to responsible credit from local credit unions. Traditional discount sites tend to flog high-cost credit deals.

Jo Boaden, chief executive of NHC, said: "Payday loans and weekly payment stores offer easy borrowing, but at staggeringly high interest rates. We have created Smarterbuys as a sustainable alternative."

She said that the link to credit unions is crucial.

"Membership of a credit union can offer real benefits in terms of financial advice and support, as well as savings and low interest loans."

Credit unions are run as financial co-operatives owned and run by their members to help those on low incomes get affordable credit.

The new scheme will be promoted through tenant newsletters, websites and rent statements.

So far, 80 housing providers with one million tenants have signed up.

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