(UK)

A new multi-million pound accelerator programme in the UK will help up to seven tech startups a year pioneer solutions that can tackle the ‘poverty premium’. The term refers to the crippling injustice of people on low incomes being forced to pay more for products and services than those who can actually afford them.

With a fifth of the UK population living in poverty – according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and one report putting the annual ‘poverty premium’ penalty at £490 for low-income families, inequality is endemic in Brexit Britain.

Launching tomorrow, the Wayra Fair By Design accelerator, supported by a new £8 million investment fund (backed by Fair By Design Fund, a partnership between Big Society Capital, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Finance Birmingham and Ascension Ventures) aims to raise £20 million.

The programme wants to advance products and services that offer fairer products and services, in areas including food, energy, food, insurance, and borrowing. This could include things like innovations that offer better credit options to lower income groups.

Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK, said: “It should not cost more to be poor. An entrepreneur’s central task is to offer a compelling, sustainable solution to big problems, and we can think of fewer problems bigger or more worthy of a solution than this one. We are eager to work with start-ups to make real progress in the battle against inequality.”

The state-of-the-art Open Future_ North accelerator facility in Oldham, part of the Telefónica Open Future initiative, will house the successful startups. Those selected will be given around £70,000 in financial support and services. This will include mentoring and the opportunity to work with Telefónica and its partners.