Case Study: Jade
Jade was referred to the service via the Health Visitor attached to her GP surgery. Jade is aged 21, she is a single parent living in local authority accommodation; she has a 4 year old daughter. Jade recently became unemployed and she suffered with severe depression. She had multiple debts (priority and non-priority) totalling approximately £21,000 and she was struggling financially. Her home was not adequately furnished with limited appliances and she relied on her father who lived nearby to wash clothes, cook meals etc. However her relationship with her father broke down which contributed to her depression and she tried to take her life resulting in her being sectioned and sent to hospital whilst her daughter went to stay with family.
Upon her discharge from hospital we identified that Jade was not receiving full benefit entitlement. Since coming out of part time work she was just receiving Child Benefit/Child Tax Credits and due to low income she was accruing housing and council tax arrears. The local authority was threatening possession proceedings against her. We were able to assist Jade with a claim for Income Support and Housing/Council Tax Benefit. The council agreed to backdate her housing/council tax benefit which reduced her priority arrears and we were able to negotiate an affordable amount for Jade to pay a minimum amount towards her rent and council tax arrears.
We referred Jade to our debt team who assisted her with a debt management plan. Regarding the problem she had with not having any appliances, we made an application for a Community Care Grant to purchase a washing machine, cooker, bed for her daughter (who had outgrown her cot but was now sleeping in bed with Jade) and carpet for her living room floor. The CCG was refused and CAB assisted with a review of the decision which was also refused. Following this we made an application to two charitable trusts that between them provided all of the requested items.
As a result of CAB intervention Jade was financially better off (claiming housing and council tax benefit with a backdate) and her debt was rescheduled and managed. We were able to prevent possession proceedings on her home and bailiff action for council tax arrears. We assisted Jade to deal with all of her debt which eased a lot of her pressure and stress and we assisted her to furnish her home adequately making it a safe and healthy environment for Jade and her young daughter to enjoy. Jade has since been discharged from Mental Health Services.
- Weekly Benefit Gain: £76.30
- Debt Rescheduled/managed: £21000
- Charitable lump sum: £900 (cash equivalent)
Case Study: Elizabeth
Elizabeth broke her back in an accident. She was aged 62 and lived alone in a mortgaged property. She was in receipt of Pension Credits. Her mortgage was in joint names with her son who had lost his job and was no longer able to contribute to the mortgage costs (son lived elsewhere).
Elizabeth was referred to the service via her GP as she had made a claim for Disability Living Allowance following her recent back injury but her claim was refused. She was in constant pain, virtually unable to walk and on high dosage of pain relief. Due to her mobility problems we carried out home visits.
CAB assisted Elizabeth with appealing the decision that she was not entitled to DLA. This was successful and High Rate Mobility and Middle Rate Care were awarded giving her a Severe Disability Premium within her Pension Credit entitlement.
To prevent mortgage arrears accruing we assisted Elizabeth and her son negotiate with the mortgage lender who agreed to let them pay interest only payments to assist whilst her son is out of work. CAB identified that Elizabeth was not getting any assistance with her mortgage housing costs despite being on pension credits for the last 2 years. We contacted Pension Services who explained that this was because they believe she took out the mortgage whilst in recent of benefits. We appealed this decision as Elizabeth was able to prove with paperwork that she was not claiming means tested benefits when she took out the mortgage. The appeal was allowed and Elizabeth was awarded on-going help with her half of the mortgage plus arrears going back 2.5 years totalling £6363. This put her mortgage account into credit giving her financial security whilst recovering from her back injury and whilst her son was job seeking.
- Weekly benefit gain (DLA, Severe Disability Premium + Housing costs): £199.30
- Lump sum of benefit (Housing Costs + DLA etc) -£8,520
- + Mortgage repossession avoided
Case study: Gavin
Gavin was referred to us by his CPN due to him struggling to pay his bills. Gavin has schizophrenia; he lives alone in private rented accommodation. Upon exploration we discovered that Gavin had outstanding water arrears, council tax arrears, electricity arrears and an unpaid magistrate's court fine. He was not making payments to any of his creditors.
Gavin was in receipt of long term Incapacity Benefit. His weekly benefit was slightly above the amount the law states he needs to live on which resulted in him not getting full housing and council tax benefit. This is why he had outstanding council tax arrears going back 4 years with 3 separate liability orders. He was in a cycle that each year his council tax arrears would increase further with added court costs. Gavin had attempted to get some of his debts directly deducted from his benefit but he was told he was not on the correct benefit to have deductions (not on Income Support)
At CAB we explained the importance to Gavin of paying priority bills. We assisted him to prioritise payments and make arrangements with his creditors. CAB applied for a Severn Trent Trust fund and Gavin was awarded £255.27 to clear his water arrears. However despite budgeting advice, at this point, Gavin still struggled to manage paying his bills.
Gavin had applied for DLA but his application was unsuccessful. CAB assisted with an appeal. Upon appeal he was awarded low rate care. We felt that the DLA award did not reflect Gavin's care and mobility needs so we appealed again and Gavin was awarded low rate mobility and middle rate care (backdated 11 months from the start of application). As Gavin lived alone and was entitled to middle rate care (DLA), he qualified for a severe disability in his applicable amount (the amount the law states he needs to live on) and so we assisted Gavin to claim Income Support. This then qualified him for full housing and council tax benefit and as backdated his council tax arrears for the current year were written off.CAB then arranged for Gavin to pay his magistrate court fines, on-going water rates and council tax arrears directly from his income support. This resolved Gavin's problem of struggling to budget and pay bills.
As he is a vulnerable customer (disabled and on low income), we arranged for a cheaper tariff for his gas and electricity usage from his utility company.
- Weekly Benefit Gain (DLA, Income Support, Housing/Council Tax Benefit): £138.82
- Lump sum of benefit £3,718.74
- Debt Rescheduled: £1,191.59
- Severn Trent Trust Fund Grant: £255.27
- Cheaper Gas and Electricity Tariff
- + Imprisonment avoided (non-payment of magistrate court fine)
Case Study: Janine
Janine self presented to the service at her GP surgery due to threat of eviction from her Local Authority home. Janine worked part time receiving the minimum wage. She had 2 adult non-dependent daughter's living with her who were also on low income.
Some years ago the local authority got a suspended possession on Janine's rented property due to substantial rent arrears. There was a court order in place that she must pay her current rent + £5.00 per week off the arrears. The Local Authority were taking the case back to court for eviction as Janine had broken the court order and rent arrears were accruing again following her hours reducing at work (a result of the economic downturn).
When she came to our service Janine owed £952 in rent which was accruing weekly. She also had multiple year's council tax arrears amounting to more than £500.
CAB liaised with the Local Authority to put a hold on eviction action. We assisted Janine with an application for housing and council tax benefit. Due to her having 2 non-dependents living with her the benefit gain was only a small amount. We identified that her daughters were not contributing to any of the household bills which was why Janine was struggling. Janine was very reluctant to ask her daughter's for money and did not seem to grasp the seriousness of her situation. The CAB advisor was able to discuss the situation with Janine and clearly explain that if her daughter's do not contribute all of them will become homeless. We also liaised with the Royal British Legion after identifying that Janine's ex-husband had service history. The RBL agreed to clear all of Janine's rent arrears enabling Janine to have a fresh start with security. Following CAB budgeting advice, Janine and her daughter's were able to afford the on-going rent and council tax and pay an affordable amount off the council tax arrears negotiated by CAB.
- Weekly Benefit Gain: £23.20
- Charitable lump sum clearing rent arrears: £1210
- Council Tax Debt Rescheduled: £1640
- + Eviction from home avoided
Case Study: James
James was referred to the service via his GP. James is 30 years old, lives with his parents and has a live-in partner. James had made a new claim for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and his partner was in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance. He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and his latest relapse affected his ability to balance, walk any distance, visual problems and he struggled to swallow food. James required assistance with claiming benefits as DWP had placed Mr James into the Work Related Activity Group for ESA (expected to partake in work related activity despite his medical condition) and he was requiring 24 hour care which was difficult as his partner was expected to job seek and take part in New Deal.
We assisted James with appealing the decision that he does not have limited capability for work related activity. This appeal was successful at Tribunal with the assistance of a supporting letter from his GP and hospital Speech and Language Therapist (obtained by CAB) and James was placed into the Support Group for ESA increasing his weekly entitlement.
CAB also assisted James with an application for Disability Living Allowance. He was at first awarded Middle Rate Care and High Rate Mobility. We assisted James to appeal this decision and upon reconsideration he was awarded High Rate Care.
We assisted James' partner to make a claim for Carers Allowance as she was unable to provide care whilst job seeking. James was awarded a top up of Income Related ESA which was increased due to a Carers Premium (as partner is in receipt of carers allowance) and an Enhanced Disability Premium.
- Weekly Benefit Gain (DLA + ESA): £176.40
- Lump sum of Benefit: £3153.25
- + Partner enabled to provide full time care
Case Study: Jean
Jean, aged 59, was referred to the service via the practice nurse. Jean owed in excess of £50,000 of unsecured debt following business failure. She worked in the pub trade but business was not viable (failing due to debt) and her husband's health had deteriorated so she stopped working to provide full time care for him. Her husband claimed Pension Credits for both of them. He was in receipt of Disability Living Allowance.
Jean had multiple creditors (15 in total). Her husband had previously gone bankrupt without obtaining advice believing that the debt would be cleared. However they later discovered that all of the debt that was in joint names passed to Jean for sole liability making his bankruptcy appear a waste of time and money with unnecessary stress. Jean was constantly contacted by the multiple creditors and three of the creditors obtained County Court Judgements. The debt and hassle from the creditors was causing stress, depression and sleep deprivation. Financially they could not afford to pay anything off the debt or for Jean to petition bankruptcy herself (cost to petition bankruptcy is currently £450).
At CAB we were able to obtain a charitable grant for bankruptcy fees from a benevolent fund that helps people who have worked in the licence trade. The grant covered all of the fees and the CAB debt team assisted Jean with the paperwork for bankruptcy and accompanied her to court and provided on-going support throughout the bankruptcy process.
CAB also identified that Jean was missing out on a carers premium of £30.05 per week. We assisted Jean to obtain this extra premium within her pension credits with a 3 month backdate.
As a result of CAB intervention Jean and her husband were debt free and able to enjoy retirement with a fresh start. Jean was able to provide her husband with the care he needed without feeling stressed about money worries. They were £30.05 per week better off and the lump sum backpay of Carers Allowance paid for a much needed weekend break.
- Benefit Gain: £30.05 per week
- Lump sum: £420.70
- Debt written off: £52,301