UK Expands Interest-Free Emergency Loans to Needy

The U.K. No Interest Loans Scheme (Nils), backed by the treasury, will now be expanded to reach up to 20,000 people, a report says.

Nils will reportedly offer emergency loans for those who’d be turned down otherwise because they can’t afford interest payments.

Nils’ website says the goal is to “fund items from household essentials and school uniforms through to laptop computers to access education and training, and tools and equipment to help people back into employment.”

The report notes that the customers will only be allowed one loan with the program, which they’ll be able to access for between six and 18 months. The average length of time is one year.

The scheme is backed by the Treasury but run by credit unions and other lending firms. It’s been successfully trialed in Manchester and will now be rolled out in other parts of the country.

The pilot will be expanded from the existing locations in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, which happened last September, to other parts of the country for a period of two years.

There will reportedly be a decision made at that point about whether to expand it further.

John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, said last month that Nils “is a fundamental, worthwhile new initiative to provide a gateway product for people who at the moment are beyond the lending capacity of some credit unions.”

PYMNTS wrote that the current era will allow consumers to complete various tasks like ordering food or booking flights more quickly with digital means.

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And Anil Stocker, co-founder and CEO with London’s MarketFinance, said finance is moving in the same direction.

“[They] are now expecting a similar level of service in their business demands as they do in their consumer apps,” Stocker said.

Stocker added that the goal was “frictionless finance,” and that the company’s systems were set up to allow users to get a decision in less than a day after applying for a loan.

This comes as there’s more demand for faster application and loan approval processes.