Call for Proposals: Our Housing and Homelessness Programme (HHP) team is looking for a consultant to work with them for 3-4 months to shape the next phase of their strategy on accessing fair credit and reducing problematic debt in the UK

Deadline for application: 30 September 2020

Location: Remote


Oak Foundation comprises a group of philanthropic organisations based in various countries around the world. It distributes approximately USD 250 million annually. Oak commits its resources to address issues of global, social, and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.

Oak’s Housing and Homelessness Programme (HHP) aims to address root causes and achieve systemic change by funding and partnering with civil society organisations that work to achieve social and policy change. Oak Foundation’s HHP has a broad remit, including to: address homelessness; defend the rights of people who are most disadvantaged by housing policies; and increase housing supply. It distributes around USD 29 million annually in grant funding across the UK and the US, with a focus on urban areas. The programme itself is based in London.

There are currently three priority areas:

  • promoting economic wellbeing;
  • increasing the availability and supply of affordable housing; and
  • preventing homelessness.

The programme is about to begin a new strategic review, within the context of racial equity and the post-Covid-19 environment, and seeks assistance in developing part of this new strategy on accessing fair credit and reducing problematic debt in the UK. Read on for more details.

For more information please click here.

Oak’s commitment to addressing high cost credit

In the context of Covid-19, there is concern about increasing levels of unemployment and more people reliant on irregular earnings. There are well documented reports about delays in universal credit payments in the UK, making it more likely that people without savings will look to borrowing additional money to make ends meet (National Audit Office- Universal Credit: getting to first payment)

We want to bring together knowledge and expertise in financial inclusion with social policy, equality, and anti-poverty narratives, to help us to understand the gaps more clearly and consider ways we can contribute to bridging different perspectives on income, debt, and credit. We want to address the availability of high cost credit and the problems associated with this. We also want to ensure that we identify: the gaps in campaigning and understanding; the causes of low income; the impact of consumer debt; and qualitative data about who is accessing high cost credit and why, with the experiences and voices of people.

We are acutely aware of how difficult it is for people who are in debt because of high cost credit to speak up. As people who have experienced this can feel stigmatised and vulnerable; therefore, it is unlikely that they will engage in campaigning activity. We want to investigate models for addressing this challenge, such as through movement building (which is rooted in grassroots activity), or re-granting to small organisations that are helping high cost credit borrowers.

Objectives of this brief

We would like to commission a consultant to work alongside the HHP team to help us explore options for developing a new entity that we currently termed, a Fair Credit Centre, which will help us address some of the questions posed above. This could be a new standalone organisation, or something that is embedded into the infrastructure of an existing organisation. The structure of the centre should: be rooted in the needs and experiences of low income borrowers at risk of high cost credit; have the independence and credibility to influence government and the financial regulator; and understand the relationship between high cost credit, debt, and the causes of low income – such as welfare benefits and low wages. The consultant will work closing with us to identify and bring together a wide range of stakeholders across the social and financial sector to explore options and share learning to date.

Project Deliverables

Deliverables will include:

  • A stakeholder map that identifies key influencers as well as emerging actors, including people and organisations outside of London.
  • Two roundtables of around 10 key stakeholders (in each roundtable session) to share perspectives on high cost credit. The consultant will help to develop the aims and objectives, and the structure of the roundtables, as well as to write up the findings.
  • A list oforganisations that can help us engage directly with people who are reliant on high cost credit.
  • A briefing paper on alternative models to setting up a new organisation. This will primarily be desk research with up to five case studies of how different models have worked.
  • A review of current data on high cost credit and consumer debt against income, particularly in a post Covid-19 context. This will primarily be desk-based research.
  • A plan that offers advice for HHP to build in ways to ensure the voices of borrowers themselves are heard.

Who we are looking for

We are not necessarily looking for an expert in financial inclusion but instead someone who has a background in social justice and rights-based issues, and a strong understanding of the issues that lead people with low income borrowing more than they earn. The consultant will have some previous knowledge, and ideally experience of setting up new entities or organisations, and an understanding of the potential pitfalls in doing so. The consultant will quickly be able to identify key stakeholders and organisations, and go beyond those that are already known to Oak, to increase our understanding of the landscape. The consultant will have the confidence to engage people with the issue and to gather feedback. The consultant must also be willing to work collaboratively with the programme team.

How you will work

The consultant will be expected to liaise regularly with Louise Montgomery, HHP Programme Officer, at least once a week to report on progress. In addition, there will be meetings with the Programme Director, Raji Hunjan, and the lead Oak Trustee, Natalie Shipton. These meetings will either be face-to-face or via Zoom.

Timelines: Ideally, we would like to start in October 2020 to be complete by February 2021.

Budget: Up to GBP 20,000, including expenses and VAT

How to Apply: Please submit your CV with a short brief (2 pages max) setting out how you would go about delivering on this tender, including the breakdown of timelines and your daily rate.

Closing date: 30 September 2020

Interviews (by Zoom): 2 October 2020

If you would like an informal chat before submitting your CV, please contact Louise Montgomery at



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