Driven by the desire to fight unfair credit providers that lump the public with practically unpayable high-interest loans, actor Michael Sheen has launched a campaign this week to defeat the poverty premium exacerbated by such lenders.
The End High Cost Credit Alliance, founded by Sheen himself, brings in a number of social enterprises, lending watchdogs, politicians and charities to both raise awareness of fairer lending initiatives and tackle financially crippling interest dished out by credit lenders.
For millions across the UK who don’t have access to mainstream credit options thanks low or fluctuating incomes, the appeal of high-cost lenders seems convenient, but is often a doorway way to further debt thanks to high interest rates and tough repayment terms. Last October, one such high-interest lender – BrightHouse – was ordered to repay almost £15 million to customers after the Financial Conduct Authority found the agency failed to act as a responsible lender.
It’s the culture of organisations like BrightHouse that Sheen and his Alliance want to tackle. He describes the Alliance as a movement to pool experience, expertise, and resources to try and make a real change and create a fairer deal for the people who need it. His dedication to tackling problem debt has been inspired by witnessing difficulties faced by friends in the Welsh town of Port Talbot where Sheen grew up.
“This is a really exciting moment of opportunity,” says Sheen, “And with your help we can really make a concrete difference to people’s lives.”