Mar 20, 2019
We were approached about a lady who has recently had her Employment Support Allowance payments off her by the DWP because they believe she is living with her ex-partner. He is in fact living back with his mother, who has confirmed this to the DWP, but so far they have not reversed their decision. The lady is forced to live on just her Personal Independence Payments, which is not much at all. The lady suffers with severe mental health issues and often sees and hears people that others around her don't see. Her ex-partner still helps care for her when things get tough and it looks like someone has been under the impression they are living together and have possibly reported her to the DWP. The stress of all this has meant that she failed to respond to a housing and council tax benefit letter, so the support for both of those has now also stopped. The lady has been accessing the foodbank and is only entitled to one further visit there. She has had an emergency top up on her gas and electric, but again, this cannot be repeated. We offered to send her £150 to allow her to buy some food and top up her energy meters.
Oct 30, 2018
We were asked to help a mother of four children, aged 1 to 11. One of the children is on the autistic spectrum with Aspergers. The mother has recently finished a degree which has now led to a full-time job. However she and her children have been living in temporary accommodation for some time now and are about ready to move to a permanent home. While she was at University she had a student loan and when she finished she was able to claim housing benefit and income support. She correctly told the local authority she was starting work and she was aware she would no longer be entitled to claim housing benefit, but asked for a run on of her benefits payments. Unfortunately because she wasn't claiming income support for the 26 weeks prior, this was against the rules and her housing benefit and income support were immediately stopped. This caused arrears of the rent at her temporary accommodation and the knock on of this is the inability to move to the permanent accommodation with rent arrears. There is a history of domestic violence within the family and the children have to travel some distance to schools, so understandably this lady is keen to move and get the children settled. We were initially asked to clear the arrears and provide some extra for moving costs, however we had to point out we are only a small charity relying on the goodwill of others so would be unable to provide such a large amount. We did agree between us though that we would send her £100 to be used to buy food and put some money on to the energy meters so that they could at least stay warm in the meantime. Our agents are assisting them with the arrears and getting those resolved so that she and her family can move.
Jul 13, 2018
We were asked to help a French lady who has been living and working in the UK for a number of years. She served a short prison sentence and all her children were subsequently taken into care. She has been released and was allowed to sign on for Job Seekers for a number of weeks, but this was then stopped, along with her housing benefit because the DWP claimed she was not a UK national. Her housing benefit was successfully appealed, and they are now working to get the decision regarding her Job Seekers claim reversed. She has exhausted all the provison in her local area, so we agreed to send her £100 so that she has money to buy food.
Jul 6, 2017
Some days we can go two or three days, four even and there aren't any cases we are made aware of, then suddenly like buses, we get three in one day. Technically the case of the single pregnant mother started earlier in the week, but has taken a day or so to get settled. Our case this time, was brought to us by one of our own biscuits, she had seen this lady posting about her dilemma and how they as a family were struggling to manage.
One of her older children was forced to live back at home, when she suddenly, through no fault of her own, lost her job and also was not given a P45, nor a P60. Without either of these, she was struggling to prove her entitlement to claim job seekers allowance or any kind of benefits. Her Mum thinking she should tell her local authority, just in case it impacted negatively on their housing benefit or council tax benefits, suddenly discovered she had to pay far more as the council were insisting her grown up daughter was contributing to the household income so they were making non-dependent deductions from their housing benefit and council tax relief. They were just about keeping their heads above water, but at the expense of what food they could put on the table. Although the Mum was being incredibly creative about what meals she could create and feed her family of six, it was beginning to take its toll on her, triggering her PTSD. We agreed that as they were certain that in a few weeks time things should begin to regulate for them financially that we would send across £200 to keep them in food for the rest of the month.
Her response to us when we told her of our decision was
"OMG this is going to help so much like you wouldn't believe. I can't say thank you enough xxxxx
Sat with happy tears. I can't put into words what I want to say xxxx"
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.