The Centre for Community Finance Europe (CFCFE) and the Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University (CBiS),
supported by funding from Fair4All Finance, are launching a research project to develop a best practice guide for community finance providers in dealing with their members and customers who are declined for a loan.

Access to affordable credit is a recognised key element of financial inclusion and the point of decline is an understood moment of vulnerability for consumers. For example, people may turn to high-cost credit. Solutions are needed that effectively support declined applicants. This initiative builds on the report on credit union current practice on declines published by CFCFE in January.

The project team believes that there is an opportunity for community finance providers to fulfil their social mission – and potentially convert loan declines into approvals over time – by building long term relationships with the people they serve and helping them to improve their financial capability. The programme of research will identify the opportunities to improve how providers help declined members, leading to positive change in their financial wellbeing. Informed by an analysis of the needs and experiences of those declined, a Best Practice Manual to Managing Declines Positively for credit unions and CDFIs will be developed. The Manual will contain solutions for handling declines that have been tested with CDFIs and credit unions.

Sacha Romanovitch, CEO at Fair4All notes that, “It is critical that customers in vulnerable circumstances are given a positive journey regardless of whether they are accepted for credit or declined. Being thoughtful about creating positive declines pathways into other supportive products and services will help every customer to become more financially resilient. We’re pleased to support the development of best practice for credit unions, CDFIs and the wider credit industry with this research.”

Credit unions and CDFIs will be integrally involved in the development and testing of practical, relevant and useful approaches. The final Manual will be freely available to all providers. For further information on this project, please contact Lindsey Appleyard, lindsey.appleyard@coventry.ac.uk, or Nick Money, nick.money@cfcfe.eu.

CFCFE and CBiS are grateful for funding support and research assistance from Fair4All Finance.