Apr 9, 2018
This case just goes to show that people from all walks of life are affected when they find themselves in a situation where they are unable to work any longer and become reliant on the benefits system. Our client here is an academic, who found himself in a situation where his previous social housing home, was expensive to heat and had a vermin problem that was proving impossible to resolve. He decided to move home and went to a new area and a new housing association property, which he does get some help paying for via housing benefit. He is currently in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA). He has been 'invited' to apply for Personal Indpendence Payments (PIP), which will replace the DLA, but this is not as easy to do as it might seem, as many applicants having been on DLA for some years frequently find themselves refused PIP and are faced with tribunals to try to get the decision overturned. Often the wait time to get a refusal overturned if it goes beyond the mandatory reconsideration stage, and ends up at tribunal can take almost a year to resolve.
This man is struggling to keep his head above water financially, as his benefits payments aren't stretching far enough. He is currently without a bed, so sleeps on the floor, doesn't have a cooker, so cooks on a camping stove. There is no furniture, nor any carpets in his home. He chooses between heating his home and eating, it is that much of a hand to mouth existence. He visits the food bank when he is able to, but still isn't coping too well, and the lack of decent nutrition is impacting his physical and mental health negatively.
Our agents are assisting him with the transition from DLA to PIP, as if these payments stop then he will be in even more trouble financially. They are helping him to apply for a grant to obtain some carpeting or floor coverings for his house, so he isn't sleeping on a concrete floor. Local to him furniture banks will be able to supply some second hand or used items, and we agreed to send him £120 to help him purchase items of his own choice, as well as some food.
Mar 30, 2018
We were asked today to help a man who is in a huge amount of debt following being wrongly found fit for work last year. He has Crohns disease, and is seriously underweight as a result. His fridge has broken which is essential to him to store fresh food, and without it he will have to rely on convenience food which he can't afford to buy anyhow. He is unable to afford to purchase a replacement fridge. We agreed to send him £150 to pay for a new fridge and give him a small buffer to buy some food with.
Mar 2, 2018
A 39 year old man needed our help. He suffers with epilepsy following a brain injury which now impacts his memory quite badly. Our agents are helping him as his benefits have been cut dramatically and they are assisting him to appeal this. They have discovered that his home is in a poor decorative state, plus he has a concrete floor which means if he falls during a fit he can considerably injure himself. He is without a kettle and boils water on the stove, but there are health and safety reasons why this is not a good idea for him to do. They asked on his behalf for some funds to help him pick up some things to help him, which we agreed to do.
Feb 14, 2018
We were asked to help out a lady who is in receipt of ESA, as she has Epilepsy, Anxiety and depression. She was in receipt of DLA, but when she was switched for PIP, she lost her claim. This has meant that her income has dropped by £130 per week. She is appealing the decision and is due to have her claim heard later this month, our Agents are confident that her PIP will be awarded. She needs help in the meantime to pay for some heating, as she is currently unable to heat her home. She needs to cover the next few week, because even if she is successful, it will take several weeks for the DWP to address the backpayment she would be due, and to actually pay that. We agreed to send her £150.
Jan 8, 2018
It was an urgent request we received to help a man who has been long term homeless. He has been offered a home to move into but has absolutely no furniture whatsoever. Our agents have applied to the emergency fund with his local council to help purchase some items, but they wanted to know if we could help with some money to get him started. He is in receipt of ESA and PIP but has no spare money to purchase anything. We agreed to send him £100 and hopefully with that and the support of our agents he will be able to pick up some low cost items second hand on local selling sites.
Dec 21, 2017
We were contacted urgently about a man our agents have recently been helping. He suffers with very severe PTSD and has failed an ESA assessment. He's been existing on his PIP payment only each week, £55, to cover everything, but of course this is not going very far. He lives in sheltered accommodation, and is in dire straits so close to Christmas when the agencies close down. They are trying to get his ESA appealed, but know that it is going to take a long time. In the meantime they wanted some short term help as he has exhausted the support from his local area, and is too stressed to be able to claim JSA while he waits. We agreed to send across £100 to tide him over, and hopefully our agents will be successful in getting his ESA decision overturned.
Dec 20, 2017
Our client was brought to our attention by our agents. He is a single father, following the death last year of his wife, when she was killed in a road traffic accident, having walked out in front of a lorry. He has two sons, both of whom are disabled, and as young adults, the child benefit and child tax credits have now stopped being paid. Both boys are unable to work, due to their disabilities, so he has put in an application for Employment Support Allowance, but that is goint to take some time to be processed. Everyone in the house is very down, and the boys are understandably missing their mum, but they are equally concerned about their father, who is depressed, overwhelmed and crying. The house was freezing cold when our agents visited them, and this was due to them being unable to put any money on the cards to pay for any gas or electricity. The prospects for their Christmas do not look good.
We agreed between us that we would send over £250 as there are three adults that need help. Hopefully they'll be able to put the heating on, buy some food and be able to cook some meals. An offer of hope at a desperate time, which without you all donating to us regularly we would not be able to do, so thank you.
Nov 13, 2017
We have worked with these agents before, and this time they brought to us a case where a young woman, 18 years old, who has just left the care system, has found herself without any money to survive on at all, not for food, anything. She put in an application for Employment Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment, but has been told that the Department for Work and Pensions have lost her forms, and therefore she has to wait until they can be found and dealt with. She is a vulnerable person who has been left in a dreadful mess through no fault of her own. We agreed that we could send across £100, and our agents will help her manage the money, so she has enough to last her. We also advised our agents to apply to her local council for a welfare payment, which they are going to do. Unfortunately though, applications like these take a long time to be processed, the money agreed to, and released. This was an emergency situation and she needed help there and then, she could not wait. We were glad to be able to help her out.
Sep 18, 2017
We were approached by our agents who are working with a single man who is temporarily staying in a homeless shelter and has a lot of debt which is steadily rising. He is on Employment Support Allowance and unable to raise the £90 fee so that he may apply for a debt relief order. We agreed to pay this on behalf of their client so that they can help him move forward and get his life back under some sort of control.
Sep 12, 2017
We were approached by a new referer about a 24 year old woman who has epilepsy, depression and anxiety issues. She is currently receiving £73.10 per week Employment Support Allowance and is unable to afford anything to put into the new accommodation she has been provided with. Our agents have sourced her a furniture package locally, and have a charity they can approach for funding for an oven, but she needed a fridge freezer. We agreed that we would send across £60 so that she could use that to pay for a second hand one from her local selling sites, or somewhere like Gumtree for instance.
Aug 10, 2017
We have been contacted in this past week by organisations that are working with individuals to resolve their issues, as in each case they have been sanctioned for failing to attend a meeting. This is an awful outcome as simply missing an appointment, such as a bus being late, a date being forgotten (also don't forget, if you have mental health issues, then getting yourself up out of bed is like fighting a daily battle, let alone remembering an appointment), or even worse the claimant not being notified of the appointment to even be able to attend it. The knock on from a benefit sanction is usually the housing benefit and council tax relief payments also being stopped, it just goes on and on leading eventually to the threat of eviction. People who are struggling to keep body and soul together then have to 1) become aware of the situation, and 2) find help. This is a further hurdle for many that struggle with social interaction, agoraphobia, or more. Our agents are now faced with trying to get these individuals benefits restored, as well as their housing benefit and council tax relief. In each case we sent £100 to help them out, to have money for food, and in one case some essential clothes, until their benefits are restored.
Jul 24, 2017
Our client is a lady in her late forties who has been on Employment Support Allowance for a long time due to mental issues. In April she was assessed again as part of her renewal of her ESA Application and refused ESA. This meant her ESA payments stopped leaving her only with her PIP payments. Due to her mental health issues she feels unable to sign on for Job Seekers so is trying to hold out for her appeal to be resolved. Unfortunately she is fast running out of money and needed to buy some food. The agency that are supporting her are hopeful they can get her ESA reinstated in the next 14-21 days, so asked for help to keep her going until then. We agreed between us to send across £100 so she can do a decent food shop to see her over the next fortnight to three weeks.
Jul 24, 2017
We were contacted about a young man that had been sanctioned on his Job Seekers payments because he failed to attend a Job Centre Interview, the reason he missed it was because he was in hospital. This meant his only source of income stopped so he was without money for food, gas or electric. We were asked for £60 to keep him going until his sanction could be reversed, and he can be transferred onto Employment Support Allowance, rather that Job Seekers.
Jul 19, 2017
Our Client is a lady who failed her ESA Assessment in April and was consequently found fit for work. Her mental health is not good, and when she phoned up the DWP to query this, she believed she was doing the Mandatory Reconsideration for her ESA assessment, but they told her it had to be done in writing (which is not true), unfortunately this didn't happen and so her assessment wasn't reconsidered. She has been claiming Job Seekers the past few week, but is really struggling and attempted suicide four weeks ago. She lives with her son who is in his late teens, and he himself has also failed his ESA assessment, so has no income whatsoever, so she is struggling to keep them both on the tiny amount she has coming in. The last payment she received, it all went on food and electricity and she is fast running out and won't have enough to last them both until when she receives her next payment. We sent over £100 to tide them over.
Jul 11, 2017
Our agents approached us about a single parent of three they are helping. She is recovering from a domestic violence situation and last year unfortunately was the one that discovered her brother dead. This has triggered her PTSD and has resulted in her almost giving up and not opening her mail. This action, or lack of has resulted in her discovering she is now under threat of eviction and she has missed two appointments for Work Capability Assessments for ESA. She is receiving help and support with this, being forced into claiming JSA while she waits the outcome of her ESA appeal. Her benefits are already subject to deductions and she is now without any money until the end of the week to buy food to feed her and her three children. We agreed to send her £50 to tide her over until Friday.
Jul 10, 2017
A Grandmother in her early 50s who takes care of her Grandson full time had to give up working following a diagnosis of COPD and heart failure. She was in receipt of ESA, but was scored zero points at her assessment, despite being awarded PIP. Our agents were speaking to her on the phone and were trying to reassure her as she was in tears. She could apply for Job Seekers while she appeals the ESA decision but was very worried that her poor health would go against her. This was made worse by the fact that she had dipped into an unarranged overdraft, so when her PIP payment arrived in her account, she was hit by charges too, so she was still overdrawn. We agreed we would send across £200 so she could clear the overdraft to prevent further charges and would leave her with some money to buy food for her and her Grandson. Our agents phoned her up to tell her our decision and she was in floods of tears on the phone.
Jul 8, 2017
Our client, a disabled lady who is a wheelchair user has been honest with the DWP and Tax Credits about her boyfriend moving in with her and her children. Their reaction was to say that he would now be financilly responsible for looking after her and her family. She was told to contact and apply for Universal Credit as she was no longer entitled to tax credits. Universal Credits said to her as she had three children, she couldn't claim Universal Credit and was told to ring Tax Credits back. They then told her she had to apply for Income Support, the result of that was that the DWP then stopped her ESA claim. They have been left only with the Child Benefit of £43.10 a week to live off for a family of five. Her partner is unable to take care of them financially as he was laid off his job six months ago. They've been told it will take 2-3 weeks to get their benefits payments sorted out and reinstated. Meanwhile they have pennies on their electricity meter. We agreed to send them £100 to keep them and their energy meters topped up for the time being.
Jul 6, 2017
We were approached about a single young woman who was expecting to deliver her baby daughter in the next couple of weeks. She is on contributions based Employment Support Allowance which means she is unable to access the maternity grant at the moment to enable her to buy some much needed things for her baby girl. Initially she was without a pram and a car travel seat, which she has to have to take the baby home from hospital and we were looking at contributing towards those items. However we were then updated to say that she'd been offered a pram and the loan of a car seat. She still needed a cot, some bedding and also clothing etc for the baby when she is born, so we agreed between us that we would make an offer of £100 to allow her to purchase those items herself, hopefully a pre-loved cot or Moses basket and the other items. Once her baby is born then she will be able, once the child is registered, to apply for child benefit and child tax credits, so hopefully her financial circumstances will then begin to improve.
Jun 30, 2017
Our client is a man who has been living on the streets for the past 13 years. He has finally been given a place of his own but was short of some things. There is a place locally that they can use to purchase refurbished items, and he needed a bed, a fridge and curtains for his new home. We agreed to send £200 so he could be provided with the items that he needs. Our agent was actually meeting him in person to make sure that all the items were got for him and then arranged collection and delivery. Hopefully he will now be settled in.
Jun 24, 2017
Our agents approached us about a young woman, just 20 years old, who has severe mental health problems which prevent her from leaving her home. Due to this, she failed to attend a work capability assessment and subsequently her Employment Support Allowance has now stopped being paid. The knock on from this is that then her housing benefit and council tax relief was also stopped, resulting in her falling into quite serious debt. The agents are helping her with getting her benefits payments reinstated, and hopefully will be able to get the arrears on the housing benefit and council tax resolved. We agreed to send across £100 so that food could be bought for herr as she is currently without any food at all.
Jun 22, 2017
A man in his 50's who has been living in a hostel was finally offered his own accommodation. He has been refused Employment Support Allowance, despite ongoing psychiatric interventions. He is appealing this decision with support from our agents and only receives £73.10 per week, the pre-assessment rate of ESA. His local council have been very supportive towards him and have provided a fridge freezer, bed and seating, but he did not have access to a washing machine. Service washes at laundrettes are very expensive, and were not accessible to him, nor was ready access to his family where he might have been able to get some washing done. We agreed that we would grant the money to provide a basic one for him.
Jun 21, 2017
Our client is a homeless man who is currently staying in very temporary accommodation, and is without his motorised wheelchair that was stolen from him two months ago. He has been using a borrowed manual chair, but is unable to propell himself around in this and relies heavily on other homeless people to push him around. Most are okay, but some are not and take advantage of him, by pushing him in his chair to say the cashpoint, but then demanding he gives them a loan from his disability benefit payment, which he feels obliged to give them. He is also pushed to places, then abandoned when the person pushing him becomes drunk and this is where our agent found him, stranded in his manual chair, baking in this heat. She got him to safety and approached us for a contribution towards a replacement for him, a motorised scooter with a tracking and security device on it to prevent it being stolen again. The impact of him losing his chair has been enormous and he has detoriated so much. We agreed to send across £200 towards this. Our agent secured a grant from a local organisation, and a new motorised scooter will be purchased for him to give him his independence back. A secure place has been found for it to be stored when it is not in use or is being charged.
Jun 12, 2017
A gentleman in his 50s who'd worked for many years in the furniture removals business. He strained himself and was unable to work, but also unable to claim Statutory Sick Pay so put in a claim for income support instead, for which he received £80 a week, of which £13 he paid cover his rent and council tax. Unfortunately his condition worsened and he ended up in hospital with a punctured lung. On release from hospital he resigned from his job as he knew he would be unable to continue to work in that environment. The downside has been that his claim for income support has been now been suspended until he can provide payment slips from his old employer, who is now refusing to supply any of those. He has an agency helping him now to put in a claim for Employment Support Allowance instead as well as a claim for Personal Independence Payments. They will also help him get his claim for housing benefit and council tax help sorted out. He has been without any income since the middle of May, so we agreed to send across £100 to help him manage until his benefits can be reinstated.
Jun 8, 2017
A man who'd had some hassle with the DWP, them believing there had been an overpayment on their part of his Employment Support Allowance, stopped all his ESA payments while they investigated. He was cleared of all the claims and found that an overpayment hadn't been made, yet they have still not put his payments back in place again. Recently he had to renew his claim for Personal Indpendence Payments and the DWP have made a mess of that, resulting in the only payments he had coming in also being stopped, leaving him with nothing. We agreed to send across to him £100 so at least he had some money to buy food, gas and electric until he could hopefully get his benefits reinstated.
Jun 6, 2017
Today, our person in need was a lady in her early 50s who had been messed around by the DWP, which had resulted in not only her Employment Support Allowance payments being stopped, but also her Personal Independence Payments too. This had left her with no money for two weeks now, and she was in a position where she literally had no money, nor any food in the house she could muddle by on. Contact with the DWP had not been helpful at all, with them pushing her from pillar to post. We found somewhere she could go to for help with getting her benefits reinstated, and also somewhere she could go to for mental health support too. We agreed to send across £100 as she needed money for her utilities, as well as food, and it could be another two weeks before she begins to receive any kind of payments through from the DWP. She commented that she'd never voted before, but she definitely will be this Thursday.
May 25, 2017
We were contacted about a man who had been struggling after having lost his job. After becoming seriously depressed, his doctor signed him off work and he reluctantly applied for Employment Support Allowance, which he is being paid at the very basic pre-assessment rate. He lives in a very remote area without public transport, and is in fact lodging temporarily with friends. His only means of transport developed a very serious problem way beyond his own skills and needs some work done. It was concerning that he was already retreating because of the depression, so a decision was made to contribute half of the cost of the repair so that he might hopefully be mobile again soon.
May 24, 2017
A lady in receipt of Employment Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment has recently been sent home after a full hip replacement, without any help and support, so a former neighbour of hers has been making the journey each day to make sure she is okay and helping her out. It was noticed that her cat was unable to bear weight on one of its legs, so it was taken to the vets for treatment, where following an xray it was discovered that the cat, like its owner has chronic osteoarthitis, which will be managed with pain relief. The lady still has to have another full hip replacement, as well as both knees replaced, and the vets bill was weighing heavily on her mind. An application was made to the PDSA who made a significant contribution, and we agreed we would settle the balance, to allow this lady to be relieved of the debt and able to focus on getting well enough for the next stage in her medical treatment.
May 22, 2017
The man in question, sustained a serious injury to his face some years ago which had left him with difficulties in trying to speak, and because of the trauma of how it happened, it has left him with severe mental health issues. He was recently reassessed for Employment Support Allowance and was found by the assessor fit for work. He approached the agency that came to us for help on his behalf and they are trying to support him in making a claim for Job Seekers Allowance. The agency have applied for a mandatory reconsideration on his behalf, but that has been returned by the DWP as a negative, so now he is faced to take the matter to a tribunal to try to get the decision overturned that way. He has a wife and two children, and although he has made the appointment to sign on for Job Seekers but it will be at least 10 days before any money is received, so we agreed to send across the sum of £150 to help them out until their benefits can be paid.
May 10, 2017
We were contacted rather urgently about a 63 year old lady, who having worked hard all her life as a nurse, was now needing both her knees replaced, unable to work, and had totally been let down by the benefits system. The same system that is supposed to be there as a safety net to catch people as they fall. She has not been paid any benefits since December 2016 after failing her ESA, and has been relying on help from her young pregnant daughter. This lady is in arrears with her rent, facing court action over her home, not knowing she could have gone to the council and requested a nil income form to make sure her rent and council tax would be covered. A complaint about how this case has been handled has been lodged with the DWP and the agency that is now helping her, having taken her case at the end of March, is supporting her to submit a fresh claim to DWP for Employment Support Allowance on the grounds of a worsening condition. The agents confirmed that this lady had done everything they had requested of her to do and were confident with the right support this situation could be pulled around, but for now she was quite literally at breaking point.
We agreed as a group to send across £150 to the lady and a further £50 to her daughter. We also agreed an extra small amount to be held in abeyance just in case it is needed, if her ESA takes time to begin payments. She was extremely grateful for the help.
May 2, 2017
One of our agents spotted a lady asking for advice regarding her ESA claim as she was waiting to hear when it would be processed and she might begin receiving payment. Her council had given her a voucher for a foodbank, but she was simply too unwell with a chest infection, to be able to attend the foodbank and collect some much needed food.
After we were certain that she was genuine and was following the correct procedures to best help herself with her ESA claim, we were happy to send across £50 so she could purchase some food and put some money on her gas and electric meters. She was extremely grateful and incredibly surprised that a group of unknown people had reached out to her and helped, in her hour of need.
Apr 20, 2017
We were made aware of a young Mum with two children, one of whom has been formally diagnosed with autism, but who also has special requirements regarding food. She'd been prepared for the holiday, but unfortunately a large amount of money left her account to pay a bill, earlier than she had budgeted for. They'd tried to get the payment stopped but it was too late, it had already left her account. This left her without money for food for herself and her two children, and the oldest child would be unable to eat the food she could get hold of from the local foodbank. We agreed to send across £60 to tide her over until her next payment of Employment Support Allowance, reached her bank account.
Feb 27, 2017
We were contacted urgently about a man from Poland who has terminal cancer. He has been living and working in the UK for the past 15 years, however because he left the UK between 2006 and 2008 and returned to Poland to care for his dying mother, he is now being refused the opportunity to claim Employment Support Allowance. His rent is in arrears, but our agent is dealing with the landlord over that, who is cooperating fully, so it is hopeful that he won't be evicted. He has no remaining family in Poland and wants to live out the rest of his days here in the UK. We agreed to send across £150 as he has no food, gas or electricity. Our agent is now able to converse with the DWP directly about his case so is hopeful the decision to refuse him can be overturned.
Feb 23, 2017
Today our agent told us of a lady who has been homeless in the past and has lived in homeless shelters. She was finally offered a permanent place to live, but in order to be able to move in she had to clear some outstanding arrears. She did this using her Employment Support Allowance payments, but by doing so this left her without any money for food, cleaning materials, or money to put on her gas and electric meters. She has Chron's Disease, so has to have a careful diet to stay on top of it. We agreed to send £100, so that she could put £15 on each of her gas and electric meters, and the remaining £70 to buy food to stock up with, as well as some cleaning materials.
Feb 23, 2017
We were contacted about a lady who had returned her completed Employment Support Allowance (ESA) forms to the DWP as requested. She didn't though send them recorded delivery, which she later regretted when the DWP claimed not to have received them. She discovered this when her ESA payments stopped without warning. This went on for a while as last month she had to borrow enough money to be able to pay her bills and buy food. She had sensibly sought a nil income form from her local authority to cover her rent and council tax payments. Eventually the DWP 'found' the forms and agreed that her payments would be reinstated, however they then cancelled them again just a few days later and she is still in the midst of trying to understand why this has happened or for the DWP to be able to explain why, as they don't appear to know why either.
As she is completely without money and needs to buy food, top up her gas and electric meters and buy some medical items we agreed to send across £100, which will hopefully tide her over until the DWP can reinstate her payments again.
Feb 17, 2017
We came across a man with mental and physical health issues. He'd been refused Employment Support Allowance back in August last year and forced to apply for Job Seekers Allowance. Unfortunately his mental health had worsened and he'd developed bronchitis which had left him unable to leave his home, and on some days his bed even. His adviser at his local Job Centre Plus was insisting he attend the job centre every single day which was not possible for him to achieve. He reapplied for ESA, and was immediately rejected for that, but they also stopped his JSA as well. Instead of investigating his current claim of ill health, they have used the assessment carried out last year all over again (where they rejected him then) and basically ignored any new information he has submitted.
We agreed to send him £100 as he had no food, or any credit on his gas or electric meters. He has sought the help of Citizens Advice to request a Mandatory Reconsideration, to get his ESA reinstated, or for them to at least assess him properly. He also has a local to him advocacy service that are going to come out to visit him this week to try to help arrange some support with his benefits.
Feb 9, 2017
We were approached about a young man, who had previously been street homeless but was now in accommodation, safe and dry. However, his crippling depression and anxiety moved in with him and things have got on top of him. His finances had got out of control and after paying his bills, his remaining money was sucked up by his bank overdraft, leaving him and his dog without food, or any money for the gas and electricity meters. We agreed to send across a sum of £80 to allow him to top up his meters and buy some much needed food. Also, he was supposed to have been previously supported in terms of financial budgeting, but this will now be taken over by a new agency that will fully support him going forward.
Feb 8, 2017
We were contacted today by an agency that are working with a man suffering with anxiety and depression. He had got himself into some quite serious debt and had effectively switched off to it all, shoving his head in the sand. He hadn't claimed any benefits at all for the past two years, relying instead on family who had been putting him up and feeding him. These debts have begun to catch up with him and the relentless letters chasing the debts are only serving to increase his anxiety and feed his depression. The agency are now in the process of helping him to apply for employment support allowance, and seek much needed medical help. They are also helping him deal with his debts, urging him to apply for a debt relief order, as he has no assets or savings. Unfortunately, though with no money to his name he is unable to raise the £90 needed to pay for the fees for the order. We agreed that by sending the money across to cover this, it would allow him to have some relief from stress and begin to rebuild his life again.
Feb 1, 2017
A young pregnant mother, 21 years old, had been in receipt of employment support allowance, until November last year, when she failed to attend a meeting with her work coach at the job centre, which is a requirement of being placed in the work related activity group of ESA. The young woman has aspergers and anger issues and is usually accompanied to her meetings by her Grandmother, but she was unfortunately unwell herself and couldn't attend. Missing the appointment meant that the ESA payments were stopped immediately. There is an agency now helping the family to get the payments reinstated but it will take some time for any payments to arrive again.
This young woman's father had died when she was 11 years old, and she continued to live with her mother but that relationship had completely broken down by the time she was 16 so her Grandparents took her in and looked after her, which is where she still is today. The loss of the ESA payments has put a huge strain on the whole family, so we agreed to send across £150 to be split between the Grandparents and the young woman.
Jan 25, 2017
We became aware of a family, parents and their four children that were being supported by a local to them welfare rights group. The father had been in receipt of Employment Support Allowance, receiving the basic assessment rate of £73.10 per week. He had been trying to get his wife added to this claim but they were having issues with her national insurance number, so that had not been possible and in fact this meagre amount had been stopped so they were without any money at all. They are being supported to get this resolved and to get Child Tax Credits put into place as soon as possible so that they might have enough money to survive on. We agreed in the interim until the DWP could restart the payments to send across £100 to help them.
Jan 10, 2017
We were contacted about a 60 year old man who had been kicked off Employment Support Allowance (ESA) despite being not well enough to work. He had with help submitted a request for a Mandatory Reconsideration (where the DWP Decision Makers look at the assessment data again) but that too had been refused. All his benefits payments had been stopped and could not be reinstated until an appeal has been lodged. In normal circumstances you would claim Job Seekers allowance while you wait to hear the outcome of the appeal and if it has been accepted to go to tribunal. We agreed to send across £100 to keep him going until his appeal can be lodged and accepted.
Jan 9, 2017
Our agents told us of a lady, that although she owned her own home and wasn't therefore claiming Housing Benefit (there is a claim for council tax relief though), she was unable to afford to pay for any heating in her home at all. Her hot water was heated using the gas boiler, so without gas, there was no heat nor hot water for washing even. The lady is in the process of applying for a Mandatory Reconsideration of her Employment Support Allowance, which she was kicked off after her last assessment and forced to claim Job Seekers Allowance while this is being looked at*. We agreed to send across £50 to top up her gas and electricity meters so she could at least have some heat again.
*Currently when a person is assessed for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) a large number of people are refused, even if they had been claiming ESA before. You cannot claim ESA without a fit (sick) note from your doctor, so your own doctor deems you sick/disabled/mentally unwell enough to not be working, yet individuals are still refused ESA. Their only alternative is to apply for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), while they apply for a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) where a Decision Maker at the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) looks at the claim again. If the first decision is overturned, then the claimant can be put back on to ESA, and any monies due to them is paid, less the amount they have been paid in JSA. There are currently no guidelines as to how long a MR can take, and it can be weeks. Many times the case is overturned at the MR stage, if that fails, then the claimant has the right to take the matter to Tribunal, where a great many of the cases are overturned, and the claimaint is then paid what is owed to them, again, minus the amount they've been paid in Job Seekers Allowance. Many of these claimants would not be safe to be employed in a work situation, for their own sakes and others around them, yet the DWP states they are when they are refused ESA.
There is a great deal on TV in the UK where those on disability or out of work benefits are demonised. Yes, you will see individuals that 'milk' the system, but those individuals are few and far between. Many people stuck at home, looking at four walls on disability benefits would love to be able to go out to work again and miss that work environment. To have individuals like that on TV though, wouldn't 'up the ratings' for the TV producers, so they go with the sensationalised cases instead, and quite possibly edit the programmes to make things look even worse than they really are. Many illnesses are invisible, just because a person doesn't look sick, doesn't mean they aren't. Many people put a brave face on depression, not wanting to drag others down to that pit of despair they find themselves in, because knowing how bad it feels for them, they wouldn't wish that on their worst enemy.
So please, be kind, you are not walking in that person's shoes and don't necessarily know how they feel.
Dec 27, 2016
Our agent told us of a homeless man who had lost his award of employment support allowance and with it his housing benefit, so was evicted from his home. He came to attention when he stayed with a homeless project over the Christmas period. Turns out he has extremely ulcerated legs from standing and walking constantly. In fact the two nights he stayed at the Christmas homeless shelter was the first time in 3 months he had slept laying down. He's spent the last 18 months sleeping rough in a church porch. He had fought with the assistance of a local to him advocacy group to get his ESA reinstated, but his local authority were unprepared to help him with housing to get him off the streets, and the advocacy group closed down. Our agent, with the help of the Christmas Homeless Project managed to find somewhere for him to live, that will be prepared to accept housing benefit for the rent. We were glad to help out with the £200 necessary to cover the deposit. Hopefully he will now be able to be somewhere safe and warm, where he can begin to recover.
Dec 22, 2016
Our agent made us aware of a man, homeless with only the clothes he was stood up in. He suffers with PTSD, depression and anxiety. Currently he is able to stay with a friend. He failed an ESA work capability assessment and while requesting a mandatory reconsideration he attempted to apply for Job Seekers but he was unable to fulfill the job search obligations due to his mental health issues. He has reapplied for ESA with a new diagnosed condition, but this is failing because he is unable to supply the DWP with a fit (sick) note as his doctor is too far away from where he is currently able to stay. His anxiety won't allow him to travel via public transport and he does not have the money to be able to afford a taxi to get there. He had with the help of our agent applied for financial assistance from his local welfare support, but with the Christmas closures it is unlikely it would happen in time and also might not happen anyhow, due to previously being supported this way. We agreed to send across £100 to allow him to get to his doctors and get the fit note and to have some money to buy some food and clothing.
Dec 20, 2016
Our agent made us aware of a single mum with a teenaged daughter. This lady has been refused ESA three times, been all the way to tribunal and still been refused. However whenever she attempts to sign on for Job Seekers she is refused as they say she is too ill to fulfill their obligations. So caught between a rock and a hard place she only has child benefit and child tax credits for them both to live off, as she has also been refused PIP too. With little or no money to pay for food, gas or electric, she and her daughter have been living off food vouchers given by a local to them organisation. We agreed that we should send across £200 to help her out at such a difficult time.
Dec 16, 2016
Our agent told of us a man who had sent his Fit Note to the DWP to fulfill his Employment Support Allowance (ESA) obligation, but it was not received. The first he knew of this was when his payment did not arrive in his bank account as he expected it to. As they hadn't received the fit note, his ESA payments had stopped leaving him without money for gas, electric or food. He phoned the DWP who has requested that he sends a replacement fit note, and having done that his payments should begin again next week. In the meantime we sent across £50 so he could top up his gas and electric meters and buy some food.
Dec 12, 2016
Our agent told us of a lady who had missed a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) because she was very ill with glandular fever and was hightly contagious, so unable to attend. The assessor and DWP found her fit for work though, so she was kicked off ESA. She has a young son, so is in receipt of child tax credits and child benefit, but that is all. Her council tax and housing benefit was being looked into, to get that reinstated, as the ESA stopping will have informed her local authority, so her housing benefit will have stopped, along with the counci tax relief. This all happening has caused the lady to have panic attacks as her anxiety levels have been stressed beyond belief. We agreed we would send across £150 to help her and hopefully ease some of her fears that her son might be taken from her if she is seen as being unable to feed him adequately.
After she had received the money, this was her reply "I'm lost for words I've gone from suicidal to hopeful in seconds - I can't thank you enough xx I just can't believe it, please pass on my massive thanks it means more than just the money, I was ready to give up xx"
Nov 29, 2016
We became aware of a man in his late 50s who had been forced to leave his previous job as a carer as his health was so poor, with a long list of physical ailments. He applied for ESA but was unsuccessful and forced into claiming Job Seekers instead. He is keen to try to find some employment as he feels this will help improve his mental health, but trying to get back into employmentt means interviews and suitable clothing. We made them aware of the flexible fund which is set up for purposes such as this. As we began to find out more about this man we realised that life had dealt him many unfortunate blows. It was decided that the fund should send him £50 as an exercise in hope. When you are struggling so much, just to survive, finding any spare money to even buy a shirt becomes nigh on impossible, so hopefully this will allow him to see that there are people that do care.
Nov 14, 2016
A single mum with four children had her tax credits cut as Tax Credits told her that one of her children had been inputted twice on to their system, which meant that her payments had been incorrect. While Tax Credits investigate this administrative error they stopped her payments. As she had also moved to a new doctors she'd been unable to supply the DWP with a fit (sick) note, so they have suspended her Employment Support Allowance payments until a fit note can be obtained. The appointments system at her doctors means having to wait a week before she is able to see a doctor to get whats needed. We agreed to send across £150 to buy food for her and her children.
Nov 11, 2016
Our client had been in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and in the support group (which usually means that the condition they are suffering with is unlikely to improve so that they might be able to return to work). Following a Work Capability Assessment he was immediately removed from ESA and consequently his income disappeared, along with his housing benefit and council tax relief.
A Mandatory Reconsideration had been put in for him on his behalf, to get him put back on to ESA, but as his condition is now even worse, an appeal is going in for him to request that the DWP reconsider his application for ESA, with a view hopefully to him being placed back in the Support Group. With COPD and a major issue with his knee which means he is unable to get about he needs all the help he can get.
We agreed to send him £50 so that he could buy some fresh food and also some extra to put food in his freezer, while he waits for his application for Job Seekers Allowance kicks in.
Nov 1, 2016
Having just got off the phone to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) this woman found out that they had stopped all her Employment Support Allowance payments, stating she had capital in the bank and wasn't seen to be in need. She tried to explain, this capital, a small inheritance following in the death of her Father was several years ago and none of it was left now, she had nothing in fact. They wouldn't listen though and her benefits were stopped regardless, meaning she had nothing at all to live off. This, unsurprisingly had left the poor woman distraught and stating she felt suicidal. We were assured though that she'd promised she would not act on these feelings.
We agreed, following the news that there was some local support in her area, that we would send £100 to purchase much needed food, with the option of a revist of a further £100 if that was seen to be necessary.
Oct 30, 2016
A young mother, married with two children attended her work capability assessment, after losing her full time employment due to her disabilities, no longer being able, in their opinion, to do her job. So her employer considers her unfit to work, yet the ESA (Employment Support Allowance) assessor felt differently and found her fit for work. This lady's husband had quit his job in order to care for her and so consequently their tax credits payments had ceased. The whole family were relying on the pre-assessment rate of ESA and child benefits payments to survive on. Now they were reduced to the child benefit only. A nil income form from their Council will help with the rent and council tax (which will have stopped due to the ESA being stopped). A local support group have stepped in to help guide them through the maze of requesting a Mandatory Reconsideration on this decision. She put in a request to apply for Job Seekers Allowance and turned up at the due time to sign on, only to be told that her appointment had been missed as it was a different time to that which she was told.
We as a group decided that something needed to happen and quickly, so we agreed to send them £150 to purchase food for the family.
Oct 18, 2016
We came across a lady who had been off work since earlier this year, having been taken to hospital suddenly in a desperate situation and needing life saving surgery. Unfortunately her sick pay (SSP) ran out in early October, and so she requested to claim Employment Support Allowance, but that wasn't as straightforward as she thought it might be. Initially refused, they then agreed she could claim ESA but that it would not be paid until she had received her last payment from her employer, and as she was paid in arrears, this meant that she would be left for a period of time with no money coming in whatsoever. What made matters worse was that her daughter was now 18 years of age and about to begin studying at University. This of course means that the child tax credits and child benefits payments that were being received stopped in August, as her daughter was no longer eligible to claim. This changeover often catches parents out, but for this to happen as well as everything else for this lady meant that she and her daughter were really in a desperate situation, with no money for even food. We agreed a sum of £100 so they could buy some food until her ESA payments started being paid.
Oct 5, 2016
A couple finding themselves without their expected Employment Support Allowance payment rang the DWP to find out why this hadn't been paid in, only to discover that their ESA payments had been stopped on the 22nd September, a form for them to fill in had been sent to them on the 26th September, along with a reminder to fill in the form on exactly the same day! To stop the ESA payments without allowing adequate time for the claimant to fill in the extensive form (usually a month is allowed to complete and return this) let alone before they'd even received a form to fill in is not normal DWP policy. They admitted to the claimant that this should not have happened, but the decision to reinstate the payments and allow time for a new form to be sent, completed and returned would be up to a decision maker to decide on, not the person that answered the phone at the DWP. Unfortunately, this meant the claimant would be without any money to be able to buy food. Both the claimant and her partner are diabetic and have to take their medication with food, otherwise it would cause them problems. To not take the medication would be worse as it could case them further complications
Thankfully the claimant had had the sense to contact her Housing Association for a nil income form, to cover her housing benefit and council tax relief payments, as the ESA payments stopping, would have triggered these payments to stop also.
We decided this was a critical case and needed an urgent decision, so we agreed to send them £150 to allow them to purchase some food and have some money available until the DWP could sort this mess out and reinstate their payments. She and her partner were both moved to tears to the generosity of strangers, willing to step in and lend a hand at such a scary time.
This case for us was very alarming as many people do not have a buffer of money to fall back on as most are living from one benefit payment to the next.
May 24, 2014
Gosh, it’s been a while since we wrote one of these! While we’ve not been writing, though, we’ve not been idle.
Here is a story from each month this year so far that touched our hearts.
Mrs W’s son had his JSA sanctioned – because he had just been diagnosed with cancer and missed an appointment, despite calling them beforehand to explain that he couldn’t attend. Sadly his cancer spread and, on advising the job centre that he was now receiving intensive chemotherapy, they took him off JSA and said he wasn’t entitled to anything else, leaving him with nothing for over a month – over Christmas, no less. He was later helped to fill in an ESA claim, which was still pending when we found his mum. We gave him £120 to tide him over until his income was reinstated, as well as offering our usual practical support.
Ms S, a disabled lady on basic benefits who was very good at budgeting them, fell foul of an internet scam, which took funds from her bank account without permission (we asked for more details, and this was something any one of us could have been taken in by). The bank were looking into it, with a view to refunding her in time, but her bills were about to go out by direct debit the next day, leaving her overdrawn with bank charges on top if that happened. She had already gotten excellent advice on fraud and contacting the bank from friends, so we sent her £100 to cover the shortfall in her bank, with a little extra to show that not everyone on the internet is a bad egg.
D was sanctioned for not doing enough on his work search. He was actually doing more than the law requires. His girlfriend W suffered the same fate the following month. Because they didn’t know about the nil declaration for Housing Benefit (and no-one at the Job Centre bothered to tell them) they fell into £1500 rent arrears with the threat of court. W was terrified of court and brought to tears by the thought of it. One of our agents assisted with the Nil income housing benefit claim, which cleared most of the rent arrears. We gave them a gift to clear the rest in full.
Mr J, a disabled man with a young child, was found fit for work. His ESA was stopped, leaving him and his son with only £20 a week to live on. We sent him £100 so he and his son could be well fed for a few weeks. Another good job jobbed.
Ms D was very concerned that her son, who has mental health problems and physical disabilities, would join the ever growing list of suicides linked to welfare reform. His ESA was stopped for over a month and a reconsideration turned him down, saying his conditions did not qualify, even though he was often unable to care for himself and suffered from hallucinations and delusions. We put him in touch with practical help, and gave a gift of £200 to assist with a backlog of bills and rent that were stacking up, giving him some space to get the help he needs, and his mum some peace of mind.