We know that there are many people in need and some just can’t get to us, so sometimes we just have to go to them. It takes longer, but it can be worth it.
When John* called our Adviceline needing help with housing costs, with disability benefits and debt he was desperate.
And although his disability meant he couldn’t leave the house – he was being threatened with eviction.
He had been turned down for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), had his Personal Independence Payment (PIP) reduced and his Housing Benefit and CouncilTax Reduction applications were refused.
When people have numerous issues, there are often complexities in their circumstances and this was certainly the case for John.
He needed someone with knowledge, skill and time to get to the root of his problems, but also to deal with the urgent issue of eviction.
Fortunately for John he had our dedicated, experienced volunteer Adviser Kevin, who visited him at home over 10 times, made countless phone calls and wrote many letters.
The outcomes for John are positive. He now gets Employment Support Allowance, has had his housing benefit and Council Tax Reduction reinstated and backdated payment made. We are still working with John to get his house fit for someone with his disability and we are supporting him to challenge his PIP decision.
John is settled in his home and has a regular income, things we can take for granted.
Kevin did not work alone, together with the Welfare Rights Team, our Energy Adviser and now the Adult Care team they showed how investing time and working together can really change a life.
*names have been changed to preserve confidentiality.
Sometimes things are not all that they seem, and when people in powerful positions tell you something is true, people tend to believe them….
This was true for Lisa*, who came to see us last month. Lisa works full time, although her partner works, he has a zero hours contract – which means it’s hard to plan and budget. They have two young daughters.
Last year Lisa and her partner fell into council tax arrears, because for some weeks her partner had no work at all. The bill was passed to bailiffs and although it started at around £800 it rose to £1300 because of bailiffs fees and charges.
After borrowing money from family, Lisa was able to agree to pay the balance off over a year and had only one instalment left to pay of less than £80 .
Just before the final payment, out of the blue Lisa received a letter from the bailiffs saying she now owed nearly a thousand pounds and she had one day to pay.
Threats were made of forced entry and seizing of goods.
This was when Lisa came to see us. She was distraught, terrified that the bailiffs would force entry into her home and take her and her children’s things. Fortunately we can see debt clients very quickly, and on the same day she met with Rachael, one of our debt specialists.
Rachael Walker – Debt Specialist
Rachael could see something was wrong.
An old debt had been found and added to the existing one.
Rachael informed the bailiffs had no right to do what they were doing and in fact it was illegal.
The bailiffs disagreed, but finally after 3 hours, Rachael was able to stop them taking this unnecessary and unlawful action and Lisa was able reach a new agreement and continue to reduce her debt in a way that she has been managing for the past 12 months.
Lisa left feeling reassured and relieved and thankful of the time and help we were able to offer, but just imagine what could have happened to her and her family without the knowledge we gave her!
There are many more people like Lisa, who become vulnerable and don’t understand what they have been told. We continue to challenge the actions of bailiffs who deal with vulnerable people, who are mostly unaware of their rights. For this family however, the future is clearer and brighter and that’s what we are here for!
*names have been changed to protect identity