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The provision of sub-prime, high-cost credit to consumers has long been a controversial business practice in the UK and beyond, evidenced by re-emerging debates in light of Wonga’s (pay day loan provider) recent troubles. Yet sub-prime finance provision is not a homogenous set of predatory lending practices and in fact comprises a range of products offered to consumers, including the focus of this research project: home-collected credit – a form of credit on offer in the UK since the late 1890s. While not without its controversial moments, it is worth remembering that, for many, the home-collected credit industry is the only means of legal and regulated credit provision.
Our project aims to better situate home-collected credit in academic, policy and public debate. We aim to better understand the relationships, intricacies and contingencies within the home-collected credit sector, building on and updating previous research in the field and making considered, qualitative and quantitative data-led contributions to the ongoing debate. Mindful of the fact that the home-collected credit industry is female-dominated on the side of providers (agents) and receivers (customers) of credit, we ask: How might one theorise the agent-customer relationship within the home-collected credit industry? Our research tackles this by drawing upon qualitative interviews with agents in the central belt of Scotland and the north-east of England, supplemented with UK-wide quantitative data.
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