In the early days of the Covid-19 crisis, it was the chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, pledging “whatever it takes” to see the UK through the pandemic. As the full scale of the unprecedented blow to the UK economy starts to emerge, it is now Boris Johnson’s turn. Speaking in the West Midlands at the end of June, he said he wants to use the coronavirus crisis “to tackle this country's great unresolved challenges.” Mr Johnson proposed a ‘new deal’ and set out plans to accelerate a £5bn spending spree on infrastructure projects.
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While the prime minister’s enthusiasm to build more homes is widely celebrated and welcomed, someone’s got to pay for it. At a time when large-scale public borrowing will see an unprecedented deterioration in public finances, we believe there will be increased pressure for the government to consider new and innovative sources of funding, especially peer-to-peer property lending, to tackle the housing shortage and deliver Boris’s vision. With the number of houses needed to ‘level up’ the UK being so high, and with so many parts of the country having felt left behind, neglected and unloved, we feel that all avenues must be explored to support the government’s mission of accelerating growth.
Alternative finance providers, particularly peer-to-peer property lending platforms like Blend Network, are well placed to play a key role in the ‘build, build, build’ strategy. Our higher degree of flexibility and one-on-one customer relationships compared to traditional lenders, more flexible and less automated approach to traditional due diligence processes, and nimbler size and lack of heavy legacy processes all mean that alternative lenders hold the key to the success of this ambitious proposal.
Boris said that he wants his government to be one that “puts its arms around people at a time of crisis”. Being an alternative lender which supports low-cost UK housing developers across the regions, this analogy resonates particularly well with us. Helping tackle the UK’s shortage of housing has been our mission since we launched. Yet it is not only alternative lenders’ willingness to fund SME property developers, but their ability to speak the property developer’s language that has made it increasingly popular with borrowers. After all, borrower satisfaction is not only about being able to get funding for their projects; it is also about a solutions-focused approach to lending, something that alternative finance providers know very well. They are also are able to offer faster decision-making due to shorter and more effective reporting lines, while traditional lenders are often slowed down by complex practices and multiple management layers.
In summary, having emerged in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, alternative finance has come a long way and become increasingly integrated within the broader financial ecosystem. Now, it is time to show its worth by playing a key role in the implementation of the government’s new deal.