Fair For You

Members Only | 09/02/22

As a responsible lender focused on providing ethical credit to those unable to access mainstream credit, Fair for You hears a lot of our customers say that they are teetering on the brink of financial crisis all year round.

They live in dread of unexpected bills and out of the ordinary expenses. For many, a free school meal is a crucial part of their children’s diet, often the only hot meal they get. And when the school term ends, so does that, leaving those parents needing to find a way to bridge the financial gap during the holidays and feed their families. Even during term time, the wait until income arrives at the end of the month can present a major headache – and an empty stomach.

It’s very sad that this should be the case in the UK today. But I’m proud that Fair for You, the ethical lender I lead, has been able to alleviate that burden, smoothing out incomes and ensuring families can put food on plates all year round, thanks to our new and growing partnership with the retailer Iceland.

In 2020, Fair for You debuted the Iceland Food Club, making thousands of micro-loans of £25 to £75 to help customers feed their families during the holidays. A £75 loan paid back over eight weeks will accrue interest of £2.89. For a £25 loan, it is just 40p. It’s intended to bridge gaps in customers’ expenses at times of peak need rather than as a year-round solution.

Those loans, which are loaded onto a dedicated Food Club card, were initially available to families in two locations in Yorkshire and North Wales. Following an initial trial, the Iceland Food Club has been rolled out across the North West of England and South Wales.
It’s heartening to hear the impact it has had – one unemployed single mother in Yorkshire has told us she’d barely eat for the last week of the month without Food Club.

Another in Wales, who works as a teaching assistant, said it had been a “godsend” at Christmas, commenting: “I do have an alright monthly income, but it’s not much after the rent and the car comes out. The Food Club has been really good, you’ve got that option of filling up for the holidays, it’s good peace of mind knowing that it’s there.”

They are far from alone – Food Club social impact reporting shows that 83% of customers no longer need to use food banks; 80% report improved mental health; and 75% say their kids’ diets had improved. Crucially, 85% say that they are less worried about meeting their monthly expenses.

We are delighted that Iceland has committed to sharing further results with other retailers, allowing them to think about whether they could replicate the scheme.

Depending on the success of the pilot and the availability of investors, our ambition is to use our unique position within the market – lending exclusively to customers seen as risky or unsustainable by mainstream providers – to work towards offering interest-free Food Club loans in the future.

Whatever happens, Fair for You and Iceland look forward to helping thousands more families put food on the table in 2022.