New shop to open in Portsmouth selling fridges and washing machines to help families out of debt

CITY families plunged into debt after taking out ‘outrageous’ loans to pay for key household goods are to be thrown a lifeline by a council.

Thursday, 2nd January 2020, 11:30 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd January 2020, 3:17 pm

Portsmouth City Council has revealed its ambition to set up a one-stop shop selling white goods for low-income families.

The scheme could launch in the coming months and would offer second-hand fridges, freezers and washing machines.

It’s hoped the proposal would help the island’s poorest families avoid using loan sharks to buy such items from high street retailers.

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White goods discount. Picture: Getty Images

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, a Liberal Democrat, said: ‘This is part of what we’re trying to do to confront poverty and find ways to help people who are having a difficult time financially.

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‘You have got to have a cooker, fridge-freezer and washing machine to bring up a family.

‘But many families who are struggling financially can’t afford these white goods and turn to extortionate loans, falling deeper and deeper into debt. It’s outrageous.’

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson. Picture: Habibur Rahman

A store could potentially be opened in a vacant premises in Commercial Road, Portsmouth.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said the council was looking to ‘sell, rent or give’ white goods to needy residents.

Second-hand school uniforms could also be sold by the council in a new measure to help cash-strapped city families, Cllr Vernon-Jackson added.

Lib Dem education chief, Councillor Suzy Horton welcomed the news.

‘This has to be a positive thing, she said. ‘School uniforms can be very expensive.

‘Children grow up and grow up very quickly. Their clothes don’t normally wear out. So to recycle them would be a really sensible idea.’

Tory leader Donna Jones was eager to see more being done to help the city’s poorest.

Councillor Jones, who opened an ‘all-year round homeless shelter’ in the city during her time as council leader, said: ‘Tackling homelessness is a big focus for me.

‘I have been working on a scheme where every business and resident in the city can contribute directly. It’s about tackling mental health, not just accommodation.’

Speaking of Cllr Vernon-Jackson’s proposal, she added: ‘Supporting cheap white goods and school uniforms is a great idea and I welcome the council’s initiative.’