Big Issue

Creditworthiness is this week’s Big Issue

Lord Bird’s Creditworthiness Assessment Bill 2017-19 will get its second reading in parliament on Friday and the Castlight team will be following its progress carefully.

I talked about the importance of this Bill in last week’s blog and its still very much in the forefront of my thoughts. As a quick re-cap, the Creditworthiness Assessment Bill aims to empower “generation rent”, who currently pay more for bills, credit and debt because their reliability in paying their rent on time is not reflected in their credit file, in the same way that mortgage payments are.

A Man on a Mission

Lord Bird is on a mission to level the playing field for the UK’s 11 million renters, obliging lenders to take rent and council tax payment data into account when assessing them for credit.

And it would be wise to listen to what Lord Bird has to say. He is impassioned about dismantling poverty and believes in simple, practical solutions that get to the nub of the problem. For him its not a higher minimum wage or a reform of the benefit system, its about dismantling poverty by preventing it and preventing it by providing opportunity.

So, in the same way that the Big Issue magazine got to the core of a social problem by giving homeless people the opportunity to earn a steady income and reintegrate into society, the Creditworthiness Assessment Bill gets to the heart of the seemingly overwhelming problem of poverty by creating a level playing field and new opportunities for social mobility.

Lets Level the Affordability Playing Field

As you’ll know, Castlight’s Affordability Passport can, within minutes, categorise all the transactional spending of an individual’s account. It’s clearly going to be a crucial resource for lenders assessing an individual’s track record of reliably paid rent payments. At the press of a button, a full history of rental and council tax payments can be isolated and reported. So, we are confident that our Affordability Passport, in tandem with this bill, will play an important role in ending the discrimination against renters and opening up new opportunities for fair and affordable credit.

In a recent interview with iNews, Lord Bird also talked about the importance of every child receiving a genuinely useful education with a curriculum that taught children about health, the environment, capitalism and debt, something he said would have helped him as a youngster. The young John Bird had very little help as a youngster, born into a poor Irish family in London, he was in a orphanage by seven and a borstal as a teenager.

And as I said before, I listen to Lord Bird! His remark about the importance of teaching children about debt has stayed with me this week. Lord Bird has cut to the chase again. Debt awareness is something we can all benefit from. Whether its the banks who use our Categorisation as a Service (CaaS) resource to track customers’ accounts, anticipate problems and avert crisis or individuals using our Affordability Passport to analyse their own affordability status.

Create a Safer Financial World

Debt sucks people into poverty so fast. Lord Bird is championing a Bill but he’s also starting a conversation. We need to continue to talk about ways to help create a safer, financial world. We need to keep talking about affordability – how to help people avoid taking on more debt than they can afford.

As we steadily partner with more and more of the UK’s banks to implement CaaS and the Affordability Passport in order to keep people secure within their affordability parameters, we are so very heartened by Lord Bird’s campaigning enthusiasm and his gift for getting to the nub of things.