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Newham sees new approach

Nicola York’s article on Newham property prices in your July 14 edition has interestingly scratched the surface of what is probably a far more interesting story for Money Marketing.

Newham has a very high number of owner-occupiers on benefits, which means that many people who own their own home in Newham do not have the income to maintain it.

These same people have poor levels of financial literacy and capability.

The logical response from financial services is equity release. However, given the above, there is a very real risk that these people will be vulnerable to the misselling of equity release.

Hence, there is a view held in Newham that retail equity-release products do not actually meet the specific needs of many of the people and, thus, there is substantial unmet demand.

As a result, the London Rebuilding Society (www. londonrebuilding.com), an East End Community Development Finance Institution, is developing a more socially responsible approach to equity release, where the CDFI acts as provider and is in partnership with the homeowner.

This is radically different from the normal approach of setting out to profit from the sale of a product to a homeowner. What is more, CDFIs do not have shareholders, so the relation- ship of mutual benefit with customers is much more even.

Given that the product design process is coming from this place, the way that the product is shaping up looks to be very innova- tive and far more fair to customers.

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