03 Oct

Wonga’s debt write-off step in right direction

CAMBRIDGE – Payday lender Wonga has announced that it is writing off £220m of debts for 330,000 customers. Changes have been made to their affordability checks after discussions with the FCA, its new regulator.

Wonga’s chairman Andy Haste was quoted as saying “We want to ensure we only lend to those who can reasonably afford the loan in question and during my review, it became clear to me that this has unfortunately not always been the case”.

Although it’s good to see a payday lenderdoing the right thing, albeit under pressure from a regulator, better guidance on debt is called for to prevent the harm that indebtedness can cause.

Often the narrative surrounding debt is focused on it being a solely financial issue, overlooking things like the relational impact it can have. Because debt affects things like where we live, how long we work for, how much time we spend with our families and the levels of stress we face. It has a fundamental effect on our relationships and our  wellbeing at large.

For 330,000 households there will be a moment of relief and Wonga is reviewing its policies. That is good news. However, a discussion is still badly needed on questions around debt, on how we live and how we work; on what actually should be a last resort in solving the issue of poverty.

01 Oct

A new call for The Triple Test

CAMBRIDGE/LONDON – In their report “Holding The Centre: Social stability and Social capital” that was launched yesterday, the Social Capital Commission recommends, among other things, a ‘triple test’ for public policy initiatives and legislation from an economical, environmental and social angle. With this they echo a statement made earlier by the Prime Minister David Cameron that all policies should be measured by their impact on the family.

For the Relational Thinking Network this is not a new thought. In 2009 the Relationships Foundation, one of our members, published The Triple Test. The document argues for the need to ‘triple test’ all policy development initiatives leading to a more coherent and integrated approach to public policy.

The Commission acknowledges that “strengthening social capital opens up solutions to blighted aspiration, insecurity and fiscal constraints”. The report is based on the outcome of five consultative sessions that were held earlier this year. Through exploring the issues of debt, housing, social care, business and family, it sets out “how we can successfully pursue recovery, protect relationships and redefine responsibilities so that social progress can be achieved within an competitive environment”.

To download The Triple Test: