Council’s low-interest shopping revolution

Date published: 27 March 2014

OLDHAM Council is set to open a high street shop selling furniture and white goods on low-interest credit.

The move is a radical attempt to provide an alternative to loan sharks and payday loans.

The “Oldham Essentials” project is designed to help residents take better control of their long-term finances by creating a “fair and accessible” alternative to hire purchase.

If the council’s cabinet gives approval on Monday the council could enter a partnership to open a unit in Spindles shopping centre by August to sell TVs, sofas and fridges, and possibly even insurance products and warranties, energy and energy switching schemes.

The aim of the “fair credit solution” is to allow all residents access to reasonably-priced finance by offering competitive interest charges.

The initiative follows the new that an increasing number of Oldhamers are turning to expensive sources of credit, including payday loans, high street rent-to-buy outlets and loan sharks to pay for household appliances.

A cabinet report suggests the retail operation will “focus staff performance not on the value of the sale, but on the savings achieved for the customer.”

Councillor Shoab Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Business and Town Centres, said: “We have been investigating options for local people to avoid them using expensive payday loan companies or high interest stores.

“This proposal would bring together our cooperative aims while providing genuine value to the residents of Oldham, with affordable and responsible lending.”