There's a growing finance gap opening up as individuals and small businesses are turned down for loans at banks and building societies. The danger is that they fall into the clutches of unscrupulous, high-cost credit providers.
However, a network of alternative lenders across the country hopes to change that.
Community development finance institutions are non-profit organisations that lend to individuals, businesses, social enterprises and charities – which can use the money to help their local community. The recipients are those who find it difficult to borrow money from mainstream lenders, with lower rates than doorstep lenders.
Now the organisations – which already lend to more than 50,000 people and businesses – have grouped together to launch a new campaign to ensure that everyone across the country is able to borrow money at an affordable rate.
That's the vision set out in a report published yesterday – by the Community Development Finance Association.
Ben Hughes, chief executive of the CDFA, said: "We must not underestimate the importance of providing access to finance for all, nor underestimate the investment needed to achieve it."
The report – which can be downloaded at bit.ly/1o67NIl – calls for banks to work with community lenders and pass on customers. It also calls for infrastructure to link up community lending, saving and support, and says the Government should set up a £150m capital fund to expand the network. Mr Hughes said: "The Government must introduce community investment legislation, to ensure all families and entrepreneurs get the finance they deserve."