Housing

More backing as Creditworthiness Assessment Bill gathers pace

Nicky Morgan MP and Green Party peer Baroness Jones add their voices to cross-party support for Lord Bird’s proposed legislation

Nicky Morgan Creditworthiness Assessment Bill

Nicky Morgan MP and Green Party peer Baroness Jenny Jones have become the latest to give their backing to Lord John Bird’s Creditworthiness Assessment Bill.

The private member’s bill, which aims to make rental payments a compulsory part of a credit score, received its second reading last month.

It has now secured support from across the political spectrum as it progresses towards a Committee of the whole House.

Baroness Jenny Jones
Baroness Jenny Jones has backed Lord Bird's proposed bill

The latest peer to throw their weight behind Lord Bird’s proposal is Baroness Jones.

“With rising prices and stagnant wages, the poorest are living in an age of insecurity,” the Green Party peer said. “We need bold ideas to get to the roots of financial inequality. We need to shift the focus to fairness.

“Whether it’s for food, white goods, energy bills or a mortgage, if you’re mortgagor, your payments count ­­– but if you rent, you’re unfairly excluded from the market.

“But by ensuring that lenders take people’s rental history into account, John Bird’s Creditworthiness Assessment Bill will mean more equal access to more affordable credit.

“I’m pleased to offer The Green Party’s support for the bill, and I’m proud to support The Big Issue campaign to #makerentcount.”

Conservative MP Morgan, who now acts as the Treasury committee chair, added: “The more that can be done to help lower income households avoid overly expensive and exploitative borrowing, the better.”

The Big Issue’s rental exchange scheme, run in collaboration with credit reference agency Experian, helps to build up a positive credit history for tenants based on this idea – and has already seen 1.4 million social housing tenants engage with the initiative.

This will mean fairer access to more affordable credit, for things as simple – but as vital – as white goods, so borrowers won’t be forced towards rapacious lenders.

The scheme has led to a move to help many more renters, not just those in social housing.

Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds was among those who gave his backing in during a House of Commons petitions committee debate on taking into account rental data during mortgage applications on October 23.

At the same debate, SNP economic lead Kirsty Blackman hailed the proposed bill as “genius”. The Aberdeen North MP said: “The rental exchange scheme by The Big Issue and Lord Bird I think is hugely positive. In fact, I think that it is a genius idea and I can’t believe that people haven’t thought of it sooner because it is just a great way in order to ensure that, for social rent in particular, rental payments are evidence of creditworthiness. And that evidence is an important issue.”

Baroness Olly Grender gave her support to the bill on behalf of the Liberal Democrats at the bill’s second reading, pointing to her work in the abolition of letting agent fees as evidence that Lord Bird can succeed, as she did, in pushing a bill through parliament.

Conservative Baroness Judith Wilcox as well as Labour pair Baroness Glenys Thornton and Lord Bryan Davies of Oldham joined her in speaking in favour of the proposal.

Senior fellow of the Young Foundation, Baroness Thornton, also pledged her support for the charity’s team-up with The Big Issue for their Make Rent Count campaign during the second reading.

Alongside Lord Bird’s bill, the online call to action is aiming to appeal to credit providers to join the likes of credit reference agency Experian in placing value in rental data.

John Montague, managing director of group operations at The Big Issue Invest, said: “It is hugely important that credit providers engage and commit to the value of rental data, whether it’s a mobile phone provider, an electricity company, a hire purchase company, a bank, a building society.

“The Big Issue calls on credit providers to take notice to the Make Rent Count campaign to give tenants a hand up across the country.”

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