Michael Sheen launches campaign against costly lenders | Michael sheen
Michael Sheen decided to cut back his acting career to focus on campaigning against high interest credit providers, like Wonga and BrightHouse, and working to find fairer alternative sources of credit.
He will start his new venture on Tuesday in Glasgow, where he will launch the End High Cost Credit Alliance, a campaign group of politicians, charities and tech companies he has brought together, working to promote more affordable ways to borrow money. His dedication to tackling problematic debt was inspired by the hardships faced by friends in the Welsh town of Port Talbot where he grew up, an area struggling with the decline of the local steel industry.
Sheen wants to analyze universal credit defaults, discuss the shortcomings of the government’s welfare reform program, and focus on ways to reduce household debt levels.
He is enraged by the reduction in government crisis loans and the spread of chronic debt, but he is also exceptionally knowledgeable on the subject and passionate about finding ways to make things better.
Best known for playing Tony Blair, Sheen completed a five-year stint in Los Angeles, where he starred in Twilight and took on other roles that brought him close to his student daughter in the United States. Since starting college, Sheen has been able to spend more time in the UK, settling in Port Talbot, where he faces issues of growing household debt on a daily basis.
“I’m more and more aware of friends and family facing debt – with overdrafts, credit card payments, payday loans, home equity,” he said. “It’s a very difficult subject to bring up, but I have had friends who burst into tears to talk about how it affects their relationship, their self-esteem, the lives of their children. It hits pimples on your own sense of dignity and pride.
Sheen has taken to “turbo-charging” all he can about high-cost lenders and talking to people who have taken on heavy debt trying to meet their daily needs.
“People often say, ‘Well, if somebody can’t afford something, they shouldn’t pay for it.’ But people told me “to get to a job interview, I need to get some credit” or “my child has a disability, in order to cover basic needs, I have to go into debt”. More and more, these are people who have to pay for basic needs. “
As he points out, 3 million UK households pay more than 25% of their income to creditors, which represents 10 million people, or more than 10% of the population. Although he hasn’t had any personal experience, he is aware that this is something that runs through society. “It’s not them over there… if you’ve ever been in an underdog and you’re not sure you can get out of it, you’re already under stress. “
Initially, he wondered if he could spend some of his savings buying off bad debt to clear them – inspired by John Oliver, the host of the American talk show Last Week Tonight, who bought back nearly of $ 15 million (£ 10 million) in medical costs. debt on his show, forgiving the debts of around 9,000 people. When this turned out to be too complex – in part because defaulting business debts are often bundled with personal loans in the secondary debt market – he decided to focus on promoting more ethical and alternative instant credit providers. cheaper.
These already exist, but don’t have the investment that companies like Wonga have, so don’t advertise on daytime TV and Facebook, and aren’t widely known. His campaign group’s manifesto promises, “We will support fair finance providers, equipping them with the resources to compete and win against high cost credit providers.” “
He hopes to promote awareness of non-profit lending organizations, such as Moneyline, Scotcash or Street UK.
Sheen is using a “significant” amount of her own money to fund the campaign and hopes to unlock donations from other philanthropists. He will continue to act, but will make this project his priority when he is not working, and hopes to get involved in long-term debt work.
“My leverage depends on having both money and a profile, so there’s no point in giving up my access to those two things. It’s about finding a balance.
He acknowledges that there can be cynicism about a Hollywood star’s ability to effect change in this incredibly complex field. “It is quite right that people are wary. We should always question people’s agendas. People should be asking themselves: is this just what I’m saying or am I making a difference? Ideally, he said, he wouldn’t be the face of this campaign. “I’d rather no one knew what I was doing, the problem is, that’s what I bring to the table.”
Conservative politician and sports minister Tracey Crouch is a member of the alliance, as is Ed Miliband, alongside academics and charities. The move is meant to be pragmatic, and Sheen believes it will be successful in five years, if things just get better.
“It’s about trying to get things done in the right direction. There’s no point in saying unless we can get the absolute perfect answer, there’s no point in doing anything. There is currently a financial landscape that could be fairer. There could be a better deal for people. We have to work together to find it.