Blog

Student unable to access benefits

A student waiting on going into her second year at university has discovered that although she is here on refugee status she is unable to claim any benefits during the summer holidays, which has left her with rent arrears and being unable to purchase any food.  She doesn't have access to any money, nor any family here that can help her.  She has managed to secure some employment on a zero hours contract so will be able to bring in some income to help herself but is obviously unable to plan ahead due to the nature of her contract.  We agreed to send her £80 to allow her to buy some food.  Our agents are going to look into securing a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with the rent arrears and also to see if there is any assistance for students.

Tags : Students University Refugee Poverty RentArrears

Man wins job but risks losing his home

A man, originally from Zimbabwe, has been living and working here in the UK for the past 5 years.  His last contract ended and this has left him unemployed.  Unfortunately he needs to apply for settled status to be able to claim any benefits at all, and the cost of applying for  this status is almost £2,500.  His rent has fallen desperately into arrears as he has been unable to pay this, not being able to access any housing benefit payments.  His landlord has applied for an eviction order, which will likely be granted, plus he has some of his possessions in storage, but that too is in arrears and he is unlikely to have these items returned to him.  He has found employment which commences in 2 weeks time, however once he starts work, he is unlikely to be paid for another month.  We sent him £120 so he could buy food over the next few weeks.

Tags : SettledStatus Unemployment Debt RentArrears

Lady in new tenancy is struggling to stay there

A woman who was recently in receipt of contributions based Employment Support Allowance, was encouraged to apply for Universal Credit to help with her housing costs.  She was advised to take an advance on her Universal Credit payment to cover the first months rent/deposit on her new home.  This has meant she is now having £50 deducted each month to repay the advance payment, plus another £50 deduction because of a tax credit overpayment.  As a new tenant she is now at high risk of losing her home because she is in rent arrears and unable to catch up.  The stress and anxiety of this is only making matters worse and seriously impacting on her mental health.  She is without money for food or to top up her energy meters so we agreed to send her £100 to help her.  Our agents are assisting her with her benefits situation, which will hopefully improve before too long.

Tags : Benefits UniversalCredit RentArrears Poverty

Man with chest pains loses his job

A man who started experiencing chest pains in December was sent to the hospital for scans.  He ended up going off sick from work, and in January he ended up losing his job due to being off sick.  He applied to claim Universal Credit and his first payment he received of £165, but then the next month only £31.  His rent is in arrears, as are his utilities.  He is still undergoing tests at the hospital to try to figure out what is going on, and the money situation is causing him stress and anxiety which is only making matters worse.  He doesn't have enough money to survive on, nor money for food.  We agreed to send him £100.

Tags : DWPBenefits UC RentArrears UtilitiesAreas Poverty

Single mum of 1 unaware of help available

A single mother of an 11 year old has got herself into debt because her Universal Credit payment does not cover the full amount of her monthly rent, so she has to make up the shortfall herself, which leaves her with not enough money for food.  She was unaware she could apply for help from her council via a Discretionary Housing Payment for the shortfall, our agents are assisting her with this now.  She is already under threat of eviction, and is scared for the future.  We agreed to send £150 to help them with food, etc.

Tags : Rent Benefits UniversalCredit Poverty RentArrears Homelessness

Daughter takes out loan to clear father's debt

A single man of two children has been struggling to manage since his wife left them.  When she left the rent was in arrears and this became higher than he could manage.  His daughter took out a loan to cover this, but of course this now needs paying back.  One of his children works part-time and his wages go to cover some of the bills, but his daughter is at University and is unable to contribute financially.  The man has issues with his temper which means he then is unable to communicate well with others regarding his concerns, or asking for help.  Our agents are hoping to apply on his behalf for a debt relief order to bring things under control financially.  We agreed to cover the cost of this and send over an extra £30 to use to buy some food with.

Tags : UniversalCredit Benefits Debts RentArrears DRO University

Young woman trying to cope on £53 a week

A young woman unable to work because of hip and joint problems, as well as extreme anxiety and depression received Employment Support Allowance of £53 per week.  Her ESA was stopped last week which had a knock on effect on her housing benefit which meant the payments stopped being paid, putting her in arrears.  There is a shortfall in her rent so she has to make up the difference which costs her £12 a fortnight, and to try to address some of the arrears. She is also in arrears for her water bills, but now has a payment plan in place.  She often does not have enough money to top up her phone so she can contact her doctor or her occupational therapist, nor have money to pay for bus fare to attend her appointments.  We agreed to send her £100, and our agents said they would help her to apply for Personal Independence Payments and to have her ESA reassessed.

Tags : DWP Benefits ESA PIP RentArrears

Family on Universal Credit forced to consider giving up family pet

One of our agents was contacted today by a man who lost his job in December last year.  He has applied for Universal Credit but is still waiting all these weeks later for it to be sorted out properly.  He has fallen into arrears on his rent and has no money for food for him or his family.  Fortunately they are being well supported by their local foodbank who are supplying them with food, but they have no cat food to give them.  With only one can of food left, he made the painful call to ask if their cat could be rehomed to somewhere that could afford to feed it.  (According to our agents lots of people are abandoning their pets because they don't have enough money to feed them). We organised some tins of supermarket cat food for him, enough to last the month, until hopefully his Universal Credit is finally sorted out, and an extra £20 for him to get some essentials with.

Tags : Benefits UniversalCredit Poverty Pets GivingupPets OutofWork JobSeekers RentArrears

Man feels bullied so leaves his job

A man who was working as a chef, has recently left his job as he felt he was being singled out for unpleasant attention, so much so that he felt bullied.  He suffers as well with mental health issues, and doesn't fully understand the benefits system, so has fallen behind with his rent and is now facing the threat of eviction.  He has applied for Universal Credit, and is due to receive his first payment this Friday.  From his £520 payment he is going to make his  rent payment plus £50 towards the arrears.  This though will mean he will be left once the bills have been paid with no money for food for the month until his next payment is made.  We agreed to send him £100 to help him out so he has some food.

Tags : UniversalCredit Benefits Debt RentArrears Eviction

Domestic Violence survivor needs help

We were approached about a young woman who lives with her two children.  She is a survivor of domestic abuse which has impacted her mental health, resulting in her losing her job as she was unable to fulfill the role.  She has been switched over to Universal Credit which has resulted in her getting behind with her rent while it was being sorted out.  Her PIP application is currently at the appeal stage and she won't know the outcome for some weeks yet.  She does receive some money, albeit not the full amount.  Her child tax credits are paid to her next week but in the meantime she is without any money between now and then.  We agreed to send across £50 to help her out.

Tags : UniversalCredit RentArrears Benefits MentalHealth

Ex-Nurse needs help

Our help was requested for a lady who was a nurse, working for the NHS, until she became unable to work through disability.  Her son has now left full time education, so she no longer receives any financial support for him, and to complicate matters she has lost her PIP entitlement, which caused rent arrears as she lost her PIP premiums.  A mix up with her council tax, resulted her being persued for eviction, this is now resolved.  She is though in serious need of help with her gas, electric and for some food.  We agreed to send her £100 to help her out.

Tags : benefits PIP RentArrears CouncilTax Eviction Nogasorelectric

Storage contents held hostage!

Our agent came to us with a case she was dealing with.  Her client, a lady had been evicted from her home last September and her belongings had been placed in storage while she was living in temporary accommodation.  New accommodation was found for her in March this year which she moved into but she has been muddling along without saying that her belongings such as her washing machine, bed and her fridge freezer, along with her bedding, paperwork etc have all been stored in the storage facility.  Unfortunately as she was in arrears with the rental of the storage unit, the company had refused her entry to get her things and had given her until June 5th to pay the outstanding bill or the contents of her unit would be auctioned off to settle her outstanding bill.  Our agent made an application to the lady's local council and they have paid the lion's share of the outstanding bill.  We offered to pay £100 of it, as we were aware if she lost the items our agent might come to us for replacement white goods, so this seemed the most cost effective solution.  Our agent has sought free use of a van to collect the contents and take them to the lady's house, so we could be confident that she could be reuinited with her belongings.

Tags : Eviction RentArrears Nomoney

Dying man constantly refused benefits payments

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.

Tags : EUNationals BenefitsRefusal ESA RentArrears Nofood Nogas Noelectric terminalcancer

Rent arrears leaves woman penniless

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.

Tags : ESA Benefits Nofood Nomoney RentArrears NoGas NoElectric

When being honest goes against you!

A lady we were aware of had told the DWP that she would be moving her boyfriend in to live with her on a permanent basis.  She was at the time in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and low rate Disability Living Allowance.  Being in receipt of ESA meant she was able to claim housing benefit and council tax relief.  DWP responded to her honesty by immediately stopping her ESA payments, which then triggered her housing benefit and council tax relief being stopped also.  Her partner had only part time work, 20 hours per week, which was too few to be able to claim working tax credits, currently 30 hours per week, so that wasn't an option.  Also because the work he was doing was as a self employed person, he was struggling to get any proof of his income to give to their local authority to satisify their demands for proof of earnings.  All this happened just before Christmas, and he was left with no work at all over the Christmas period, so no income beyond the low rate DLA she received.  Her rent was in arrears, and she was close to losing her home.  It was just a struggle too far.  So we agreed to send across £300 to cover the rent arrears and an extra £50 so they could get some food.  Their Christmas meals over the whole of the Christmas period consisted of only baked beans and potatoes, all they could afford.  Hopefully this money will help them get straight with their rent.  We discovered they now have some proof of income, so hopefully the relevant authorities can be satisfied and they can begin to get on with their lives together.

Tags : ESAFailure RentArrears RiskofEviction familieswithoutfood

Stroke victim left penniless

We were contacted about a man in his forties who had suffered two strokes earlier this year, leaving him with speech and memory problems.  As he had only been working on a casual basis he wasn't entitled to any sick pay.  He'd applied for ESA but his forms had been lost and his claim closed in error, meaning he'd received no benefits payments since July this year.  Also he was on the point of eviction as his housing benefit hadn't been paid.  Our agents have managed to get his housing benefit put in place and also have made inroads into getting his ESA payments paid again, but this is unlikely to be paid until the New Year, leaving this man with no money for food over the Christmas period or for utilities.  We agreed to send across £100, and hopefully some of his faith has been restored.

Tags : ESAFailure RentArrears Eviction

ESA Sanctions

Our agent whilst at her local authority housing office, assisting another client, came across a lady she knew of, very distressed.  She discovered that she was under threat of eviction, as she had been sanctioned three times from her ESA payments.  This had resulted in her housing benefit not being paid, leading to her being in arrears on her rent.  Our agent has confirmed that if it becomes necessary that this lady needs to go to court to fight an eviction order, she will be with her every step of the way to make certain it is not enforced.  She was also going to speak to the DWP, as this is a very vulnerable woman, that has issues which has led to the sanctions, but the DWP are not taking these into consideration.  Our agent will also be attending the council offices with this lady to help to get her rent issues resolved.  Even sanctioned, this lady should have been made aware that she had the right to apply for housing benefit on a nil income basis, not left unsupported and without financial aid.  Our agent advised us that she was making a formal complaint as she was unhappy about the lack of advice they were offering.  We agreed to send across £200 to help. 

Tags : ESASanctions RentArrears Eviction

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