It may help to describe some of the cases we have dealt with recently. Here are just 4 examples. The names are fictional.

Alice - coping with bereavement, housing and benefit issues

Alice, age 60 with chronic illnesses contacted us in a distressed state as her partner had recently died.  The social housing tenancy was in her partner’s name as was the housing benefit and council tax reduction. We helped her claim a hardship crisis payment from the local welfare assistance scheme, start a new claim for Universal Credit, get the tenancy transferred into her name, make a claim for a funeral payment and obtain financial support from a charity to purchase some much-needed household items.  A claim for Personal Independence Payment means Alice now receives an extra £68.10 per week to help with her care needs.  Overall, Alice is better off by £15,000 this year.

Brian - securing his benefit entitlement

Brian came to us to get help claiming his state pension.  He is unable to read and write. We helped him claim his state pension and we carried out a benefit check which indicated Brian was entitled to a Pension Credit top-up, a severe disability premium, housing benefit and council tax reduction.  He now receives £12,000 extra in benefit income per year. A very surprised and happy Brian said, ‘without the adviser’s help I would never have known how much I could claim’.

Chloe - crisis support

Chloe is in her twenties and has a young child.  She was homeless and has recently been re-housed but is struggling with the cost-of-living especially food and energy. Chloe receives a lower amount of Universal Credit as she is under 25 years of age, but her living costs are the same as someone age 25 and over so there is an element of unfairness in the benefit system.  Our cost-of-living adviser was able to provide some financial support to Chloe.  A crisis payment of £300 was claimed from the local welfare assistance scheme. Chloe was given £50 in supermarket vouchers and a fuel bank payment of £30 to help until she receives her next Universal Credit payment. A charitable application was made to get a new oven and fridge/freezer.  The adviser is helping Chloe to budget so that she is better able to manage the money she has. The client said ‘I don’t know what to say; I am so grateful for all the help. Thank you’.       

Eric  - a successful benefits appeal

Eric is in his fifties and has numerous health conditions which means he is unable to work. He approached us for help appealing a work capability assessment as the Department for Work and Pensions had found him fit for work. Our welfare benefit specialist completed and submitted an online Universal Credit appeal.  When she spoke to the work coach it became clear that the Eric had not informed them of all his health conditions.  The UC appeal was successful.  A Personal Independence Payment appeal was also submitted and successful. Eric’s income increased by just under £10,000 and he received a lump sum arrears payment of £6,700.  This has enabled him to resolve his debt situation and has helped improve his mental health.  He reports that he can cope with life better now that his benefits have been re-instated.