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07 October 2013

Moneyline offers lifeline to people on low incomes and those affected by Welfare Reform

A service helping people on low incomes to avoid becoming victims of loans sharks and assisting those facing money problems has come to Swansea.

Moneyline Swansea will be officially opened on 7 October by the Right Reverend John Davies, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon.

Moneyline Cymru is a leading not-for-profit social enterprise working in partnership with Community Housing Cymru which provides affordable loans and money advice to people traditionally ignored by mainstream lenders.

Moneyline Swansea is part of Moneyline Cymru and the seventh outlet to open in Wales, in addition to Moneyline Merthyr Tydfil, Cardiff, Pontypridd, Cwmbran, Bridgend and Newport.

Welsh Moneyline branches have issued over 13,000 loans to the value of more than £6m. Customers are encouraged to open a savings account, with nearly a third (customers who people say can’t and won’t save) opting to do so - collectively saving a total of £900k.

The new Moneyline Swansea outlet opened to the public on 1 September and, to date, has completed 25 loans, loaned out £4,800 to local people, with 100% of customers also opening a savings account.
Nick Bennett, Group Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru (CHC), the membership body for housing associations in Wales said: 'Moneyline offers a lifeline to those who need it. With the UK Government’s welfare reform changes, a rise in demand for high interest lenders and loan sharks is a real concern. The service offered by Moneyline Swansea will be invaluable and will go a long way towards helping people to cope with the changes.'

The manager of the Swansea branch is Ceri Hart, who has worked for the group for three years. She said: 'We are considerably cheaper than the high interest lenders currently available and our staff ensure that customers only borrow what they can afford. As with our other outlets, we are seeing phenomenal success with our savings accounts, with many people saving for the very first time.'

Around 40,000 people in Wales have been affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ introduced earlier this year, and will lose part of their housing benefit because they are deemed to have a ‘spare room’. Welsh Government also estimate that around 42,500 people in Wales will lose an average of up to £83 per week following changes to the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Organisations such as Moneyline, credit unions and other key partners are working hard to address issues brought about by welfare reform and to provide alternatives for people.

Nick Bennett added: 'Moneyline customers will be offered independent money advice – regardless of whether they have been offered a loan or not. The ‘Your Benefits are Changing’ money advisors, a project by CHC and funded by the Big Lottery and Dwr Cymru, has already advised over 4,000 customers and identified thousands of pounds of unclaimed benefits. They have also helped customers reduce their water arrears over £700k via the Dwr Cymru customer assistance fund.'

Ms Hart added: 'The local housing associations and Swansea Council have been very supportive with the expansion of Moneyline Cymru into Swansea. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their support to date. I’m confident that we will build strong working relationships with all our supporting partners and ensure that there are real alternatives to door step lenders and illegal money lenders.'