The ‘credit deserts’ in South Wales where people cannot access affordable borrowing

Nearly a quarter of so-called ‘credit deserts’, where people struggle to access affordable borrowing, identified by a think tank are in Wales.

Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly were among those identified by Demos in a new report.

Credit deserts may be places where there is a clear need for borrowing, along with high concentrations of high-cost lenders and households with low average credit scores.

7 of the 29 ‘credit deserts’ identified were in Wales.

When access to affordable rates of borrowing is limited, people are more at risk of choosing to take out short-term loans, which often have very high interest rates and penalties for late repayments.

Demos said that while many so-called credit deserts do have bank branches, building societies and credit unions, some residents may struggle to access their services due to their credit history.

This means they may need to turn to higher cost options to borrow cash.

The report said: “In most credit deserts, the paucity of affordable options is accompanied by a concentration of high-cost credit, as most credit deserts feature a very high number of payday lenders, pawnbrokers and rent-to-own shops.”

For those with good credit scores and low need, it’s easy not to think about credit too much.

But for millions of people, credit is a regular source of worry. With little savings and very limited access to affordable credit, something as ordinary as a fridge breaking down can send you into a financial tailspin.

– REPORT AUTHOR AND DEMOS SENIOR RESEARCHER SACHA HILHORST

Demos said that while low-income areas are more likely to be defined as credit deserts, this was not the only factor – as households in some low-income areas have their finances bolstered by high levels of home ownership.

The report said some middle-income areas can also have extremely low credit scores – which may be due to factors such as high student populations with thin credit files or high levels of employment instability which could make it harder to borrow.

The report said there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to improving the credit environment.

It said local politicians and businesses also have a part to play in improving each area’s credit experience.

The 29 local authority areas identified by Demos as being credit deserts:

  • Torfaen
  • Swansea
  • Caerphilly
  • Neath Port Talbot
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • Merthyr Tydfil
  • Blaenau Gwent

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