These case studies are just some examples of how we help our clients with the problems they face, relieving stress and anxiety, and easing financial pressure for better and healthier lives. By solving and preventing individuals’ problems we also create value to society.
Impact of Covid-19
The Client is a single parent who lives with her two children aged 9 and 4. The Client is employed as a part time key worker supporting children with learning disabilities. Before Covid-19, the Client was able to do extra shifts to help increase her income. Due to Covid-19, her part time hours have reduced further and the extra shifts are no longer available.
The Client is in receipt of Child Benefit. Due to the reduction in her income she is struggling to feed her children; her wages cover the rent but nothing else. The Client had paid her recent instalment of her Council Tax bill but would not be able to make her next payment. She also had gas and electricity arrears of £400, which was being deducted from her key meter every time she topped up. The Client had used the last of her wages to buy some food, but was not sure how she would be able to buy food for the following week. The Client has diabetes and has been experiencing high blood pressure as a result of stress about her financial situation.
The Client was extremely desperate and anxious when she called us for help. She was able to use a computer but needed guidance on what she should do.
We referred the Client to a local foodbank straight away who provided her with an emergency food parcel for her family.
After completing a benefit check the client was advised to apply for Universal Credit and related Child Element and Housing Costs, and was referred to our UC Help to Claim team for support with the online application.
In respect of her Council Tax, the Client was advised to apply for 25% single person discount for Council Tax. We explained to her how to do this online which would help reduce her Council Tax bill. She was also advised on how to apply for Council Tax Support.
The client was also advised on her utility arrears. Both her electricity and gas were being provided by British Gas who were deducting £20 from each key meter every time she topped up. We were able to give the client £60 from the Samaritans Fund for her to top up her key meters until her Universal Credit was in payment. We also contacted British Gas to have her automatic repayments reduced from £20 to the minimum deduction of £5. We also submitted an application to the British Gas Energy Trust to help clear all of her arrears.
The client was extremely grateful for the help she received because it meant that she and children would not go hungry and would be able to afford essential household costs during this exceptional period.
Warrant of Control set aside
Mr. A is 47 years old with life- long severe mental health disability. He has very limited ability to deal with his affairs and has been relying on disability benefits for many years. Mr A is a Council tenant living in one bedroom flat.
Mr. A came to see us in March 2019 after receiving a letter from bailiffs in regard to a small debt to Vanquis credit card. The debt collection agency obtained a Court Warrant of Control which escalated to over £900 with interest and court costs. The Warrant of Control allowed the bailiffs to seize from his flat property belonging to Mr A.
When we investigated the matter it transpired that the debt to Vanquis was 11 years old. Since then Mr. A has not paid anything towards it and for many years he has not heard anything about it. About a year ago the creditor made a claim in the Bulk Centre of Northampton County Court. Mr A was not mentally able to deal with his debts and did not defend the claim and a judgement in default was issued which was followed by the Warrant of Control.
Our debt and benefit specialist advised Mr. A that it is most likely that the debt was statute barred. However, because he was not able to reply to the court, the Bulk Centre issue a Judgement in Default that led later on to the Warrant of Control.
We therefore, helped Mr. A complete an application form to the local County Court in Brentford (N244) to set both the original judgment and the warrant of control aside on the grounds that the claim to the court was made more than 6 years after the debt became payable and therefore was statute barred under the Limitation Act 1980. We also helped Mr. A to complete exemption from fees application (N160) due to him being on mean tested benefits.
The Brentford County Court accepted the application and the judgment was set aside and the debt statute barred.
In accordance with our holistic approach to clients’ enquiries, we also checked Mr. A benefits and realised that Mr. A was underpaid Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for many years. Even though he was in receipt of Disability Living Allowance higher rate care component and lived on his own and no one was claiming Carer Allowance for looking after him he did not receive Severe Disability Premium (SDP) in his ESA. With his consent we wrote to DWP with full details of the matter and as a result Mr A received arrears of ESA of almost £9000 and ongoing increase in his ESA in accordance with his correct entitlement
Help for a bereaved client
Mrs G is 57yrs old, recently widowed, suffers from mental health issues and lives with her children in social housing. She is in receipt of Universal Credit, Child Benefit and Personal Independence Payment.
When she contacted Citizens Advice Hounslow, Mrs G was in a state of anxiety due to the her husband’s sad passing, and she was left with rent arrears and funeral related debts. Additionally, she stated that her Landlord was already preparing to evict her and her children for rent arrears.
Mrs G said that was feeling lost and unable to tackle her problem also because as she found it very difficult to use computers and complete online forms.
After a full exploration of Mrs G’s situation, our adviser was able to apply for Funeral Expenses Payment and Bereavement Support Payment to help with funeral expenses and maximise her income. Additionally, we assisted the client to complete and submit a Discretionary Housing Payment to her Local Authority for financial support towards paying off her rent arrears. We also contacted her Landlord to request a hold on all action until we had back benefit decisions, which was honoured.
To empower Mrs G, our adviser also registered her on an online Digital Inclusion programme and gave her initial coaching on how to undertake the basic computer course to improve her digital skills to enable her to work towards securing employment.
As a result of our intervention, Mrs G’s was awarded Funeral Expense Payment of £1,389, and Bereavement Support Payment of £3,500 + £350/mth for 18mths. With these payments, Mrs G was able to pay off her rent arrears, and therefore is no longer at risk of being evicted. With the Funeral Expenses Payment Mrs G was able to clear all of the funeral related debt. Mrs G is now debt free and is better able to manage her budget and concentrate on building a stable home for herself and her children.
As a result of our digital skills support, Mrs G has started attending her local library where she is using the computers to work her way through the training modules. She expressed her gratitude to Citizens Advice Hounslow as we supported her at a critical moment in her life