With mounting fears over Universal Credit challenging the financial wellbeing of many Brits, Orbit, a 40,000-home housing association, is working with The Fairbanking Foundation to support customers on managing their money. The project is the first major initiative by the Fairbanking Foundation under its new Chief Executive, Aidene Walsh, who took over from founder Antony Elliott, OBE, earlier this year.
Orbit’s front line advisors and 100,000 customers will be able to access the guidance from the Fairbanking Foundation’s independent certification scheme, the Fairbanking Mark, which tests whether financial products such as current accounts, personal loans and credit cards are genuinely built around the financial needs of their users. Importantly they will also see in a single place those providers who have been awarded the Fairbanking Mark.
A first in the UK, this website follows a pilot stage, in which Orbit tested the value of both the Fairbanking Mark certifications as well as the best way to deliver this information to customers. The information will be made available on a dedicated website along with tools to encourage customers to set their own financial goals and take action on these.
In the last year, Orbit has helped more than 3,000 customers receive financial advice and support. At the same time, it has also invested more than £3m back into its communities to help those most in need.
Sam Scharf, head of community investment at Orbit said: “Universal credit is the biggest change in the welfare system in a generation and has a huge impact on housing associations and their customers. The social housing sector has been working hard to support affected customers through the changes and has already made a significant contribution. With a large number of financial products out there, it is immensely helpful to have an independent and fully accredited certificate such as the Fairbanking Mark. It gives us confidence that a financial product actively promotes customer financial well-being.
“It is critical to design services that make information accessible and easy to allow for action to be taken. We hope other housing associations will join us and utilise this digital offer to help their customers take control of their finances.”
Aidene Walsh, Chief Executive of the Fairbanking Foundation, commented: “Our Fairbanking Mark is designed to empower people to take charge of their financial wellbeing. Working with Orbit is a direct route for us to see our activities being turned into real action and to highlight those financial providers who have worked hard on improving their products to earn a Fairbanking Mark. We are currently looking for further housing associations like Orbit to make sure we deliver improved financial wellbeing to more communities in the UK.”