Is press sanitisation afoot in the wake of the impending by-election for Oldham West and Royton? Oldham Council appear to have removed the press release for the opening of “Our House” which closed after just 4 months earlier this week. The link can be found via searching OMBC’s press release archive but clicking the link just redirects to the press release homepage.”Our House” was Oldham Council’s alternative to high interest rent to buy store “Brighthouse”. Having an high interest rent to buy store for people on reduced budgets who could not accesss credit and then making it a social business without debt collectors or pressure to keep up repayments may have had its heart in the right place but was a business catastrophe waiting to happen. Fortunately the text for the press release survives thanks to Googlecache which snapshots the web.
Oldham Council supports national first for local families
The country’s first high street weekly payment store for new household goods run by a social business has opened in Oldham’s Tommyfield Market.
It has been created by FRC Group, a not-for-profit business, working in partnership with Oldham Council.
Our House is a completely new type of high street store, a weekly payment store offering a great range of new household furniture, appliances and electrical items, with all the brands customers want and at the lowest cost.
The weekly prices at Our House are up to 50% cheaper than other high street Rent to Own stores, offering huge savings and with no late fees. There are also no hidden charges or unnecessary extra costs – no expensive service package and the insurance is truly optional.
Donald Stark, Our House Managing Director, explained: “At Our House we want our customers to spend less money and we are here to help them to save as much as we can. Our House has no expensive service package that you must take out and our insurance really is optional.
“Because we are a social business with no shareholders, and also a charity, our top aim is to offer the best value for our customers, not to make profits for ourselves, so we have kept our prices as low as we can and will continue to work hard to drive them down even further.”
Our House is being supported by Oldham Council because they understand that a growing number of people are turning to expensive sources of credit, such as payday loan operations, high street rent to own stores, and even loan sharks, in order to buy necessities such as household goods.
Many people do not have bank accounts and have a poor credit history, which reduces their options and puts them at greater risk of financial exploitation. Our House offers a fair credit solution, giving access to reasonably priced credit, keeping the total cost realistic and affordable.
Councillor Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader, said: “We’ve found that many people in Oldham have issues accessing credit or paying off debt they already have and are being forced to use exploitative weekly payment stores – or even loan sharks – in order to purchase necessities such as household goods.
“This new store will give a fair alternative and genuine value for money to the residents of Oldham.
“Oldham Council, who will not make any money from this scheme, partnered with the FRC Group because they shared similar values to us to get the long term unemployed back into work and provide a fair service to local people.
“We pride ourselves on fairness and we’ve already led on successful Fair Energy and Fair Fares campaigns. This store is part of our Fair Credit campaign to help give residents a helping hand and access affordable and responsible lending.