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Throwing a lifeline

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.

Tags : familieswithoutfood ESA Benefits debt overdrafts

Pregnant Mum removed from ESA

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.

Tags : pregnantyoungmum ESA ESAfailure nobenefits familieswithoutfood

Family without food

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.

Tags : familieswithoutfood ESA Benefits NationalInsurance

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

Benefits Payments mix up

We came across a lady whose benefits payments were expected into her bank account today and had ordered some food to be delivered to her.  Unfortunately due to the bank holidays, her payments will not be received until Tuesday, which left her unable to pay for the food for the weekend and beyond, and unable to purchase any food from elsewhere until at least next Tuesday when the banks open again.  We agreed to send across £30 to tide her over until her next payment arrives.  She was extremely grateful for the help.

Tags : Benefitspayments Bankholidays familieswithoutfood

Single Mum in dire straits!

We were contacted about a single Mum with two teenaged disabled children.  Her eldest son had failed to be awarded PIP when he transitioned from Disability Living Allowance, when he failed to attend a medical, which they claim they were not informed about.  The knock on of this though is that the failure to have PIP in place has meant that the carers allowance his mum was receiving has been stopped.  In an effort to help, the eldest son has tried to find some employment, but so far he has only been able to get some occasional work on zero hours contracts.  Their local authority believes he is earning more than he is, so they are applying a very high non-dependant charge.  If all this wasn't enough, her landlord has applied to have them evicted, and the lady's ex husband is now refusing to pay the child maintenance payments.  So this family have been left in a huge mess.  This lady had been hoping to somehow give her two children as normal a Christmas as possible, but now didn't even have enough money to buy food, in fact all she had was £14 to feed three people and put money on the gas and the electricity.  We agreed a sum of £250, and sent that across.  She told us she was crying as she was so amazed at the help she'd received. 

Tags : PIPfailure carersallowance familieswithoutfood nogasorelectric eviction

Possible illegal eviction

Our agent had been in touch with a lady and her family that had been suddenly evicted from their home because they had complained about the condition of their property.  Absestos had been found in the property and was open to the inside of the property.  They had had a bad time anyhow with their landlord, who had been harrassing them as well.  They used all their benefits money and the small amount of savings they had to move and pay for a replacement cooker.  We agreed to send across £100 to help them get through until their next payment benefit is due.  Our agent also has advised them to seek some advice regarding the eviction as it does sound as if it is an illegal eviction.

Tags : Benefits familieswithoutfood evictions

Ex-Dinner lady needs foodbanks

Our agent, who had personal knowledge of this lady, spotted a mention that she'd had to go to a foodbank for help to feed her and her family.  On enquiry we found that although her husband works, his income is just over the limit that means they can not claim any additional financial help.  She'd had to give up her part time job as her arthritis was preventing her from working, and her adult son had recently lost his job due to his mental health condition.  The lady was signposted to apply for Employment Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments for her son, as his mental health prevents him from working.  We agreed to send across £100 as a boost to help them.  She was extremely moved by the help and said that she was so happy, crying tears of joy, as she would be able to top up her meters and have the heating on.

Tags : benefits familieswithoutfood lowincomefamilies.ESA PIP

Dealing with grief

We were alerted to a family where we have in the past helped the father when things were desperate.  We found out that a member of the family had unexpectedly found dead which has understandably had a devastating effect on the family and no one seems to be functioning well at all right now.  Money is incredbily tight, and they are desperately in need so it was agreed we would send across £100 so that some food can be bought for them.  We are also liasising with agencies that hopefully will be able to put some support in place for the family.

Tags : unexpecteddeath grief familieswithoutfood

Family Sanctioned and Left without Food

A young mum with a six year old daughter has been left without any money for gas, electric or food because her Job Seekers Allowance has been sanctioned for 3 years!  She still has a way to go yet on this sanction and the agents we are dealing with on this case are looking into helping her to get the sanction overturned.   She has no family around her and has borrowed as much as she has been able to to survive from her friends and neighbours which has now made day to day living difficult as she is unable to pay them back.  She has sold most of hers and her daughter's belonging to try to make ends meet.

When our agents met with this lady she was inconsolable.  Her concern is with her daughter, who has only one pair of shoes to her name, a coat that is way too small, no fresh food to feed her.  Although she has been able to get some food via a voucher for her local foodbank, much of the food she is given is not suitable for a young and growing child.

A decision by her local authority as to whether they are able to help her has to go to a decision maker, which is fine but it all takes time and while this decision is being reached, people are literally starving and freezing in the cold.  We agreed because of how urgent this case was to send across £200, this was to provide money for gas and electric, and much needed food .  

Two of our members were particularly affected by this story and one sent vouchers for £30 to buy a Christmas present for the little girl, and another member sent vouchers for £100 to buy some clothing for her.  

Tags : familieswithoutfood youngmums vulnerablechildren benefits

Tax Credits Overpayments

We were contacted with an urgent case.  A single mum with a child had been overpaid on tax credits and HMRC were collecting the overpayment from her child tax credits, which left her with no more than £20 per week for her and her daughter to live off.  She had secured herself a new job, but found out that Tax Credits won't award working tax credit until she has supplied wage slips, but her new employer won't be doing that until some time in December.  It was agreed that we send her £150 to be able to top up her gas and electric meters, buy some food and have some money for bus fares to get back and forth to work.  Hopefully that money and the voucher for food sent to her from another organisation will keep her ticking over until her first salary is paid.

Tags : familieswithoutfood youngmums vulnerablechildren benefits

Kicked off Employment Support Allowance

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.

Tags : jobseekersallowance familieswithoutfood ESA WCA MandatoryReconsideration

A response from one of our clients to share

We recently had some feedback from a client following a recent grant that was sent across to help her and her young family.  We do get lots of feedback but mostly it is a 'thank you so much' or 'this has made so much difference', maybe a 'this has made me cry that people want to help', or only yesterday someone said 'no one has helped me this way before'.  Many people are embarrassed that they have needed the help and as you know no one is allowed to directly approach us for help, which allows us to be fairly certain that whom we help are in genuine need.

Every so often though you get one person who writes back just how they feel and this came through to us yesterday and we would like to share her words with you.

'just an update on the grant made recently to the woman near XXXX.

I just wanted to let you and the people who donated the money know that the last couple of weeks has been great for my family after receiving the donation. My children have eaten proper, nutritious meals for the first time in weeks as I have been able to do a proper shop. My son has started an new school this week and the money has enabled me to buy the uniform that he needed.

I have been able to make all of my medical appointments as we have also been able to put fuel in the car.
I can not express our gratitude enough. Your kindness and selflessness has really made a difference in our lives.

Other things are being sorted out too.'

From all of us here at The Biscuit Fund, from the bottom of our hearts we thank you.  Your donations help us so much to help those in such desperate situations.  So thank you once again for your help, and please share this post to get the word out there if you can. :-)

Tags : familieswithoutfood youngmums vulnerablechildren benefits

Terrifying Tax Credits Decision!

We came across a young mum, with two small children, one 18 months old and one 17 weeks old.  For some completely unknown reason, the Tax Credits Office were convinced these two very young children had moved out of the house and so therefore she was no longer entitled to her tax credits claim.  She found out on the Friday morning as she was preparing for her weekly food to be delivered as usual from her local store.  This meant no food and no money to go on the gas and electricity meters.  

After some practical support in terms of getting the Tax Credits office to understand that they had got it wrong and potentially left two very young children in a very vulnerable situation they agreed to send across a sum of money until things could be properly resolved.  We agreed, that we would still send across the money they had planned to send before Tax Credits pulled their finger out and got things partially sorted.  So £100 was sent across which she was incredibly grateful for.

Tags : taxcredits familieswithoutfood youngmums vulnerablechildren benefits

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