Our advice makes a real difference to thousands of people each year. Here is a selection of how we have helped our clients find a way forward with their problems. Their names have been changed in the below case studies so that they cannot be identified.
Yvonne’s debt dilemma
Yvonnne was very vulnerable, having fled from a violent relationship some years ago. She was suffering from mental health problems and depression and attended with her support worker. Yvonne had a number of debts, including arrears with her water company being collected by High Court Enforcement Officers. She struggled to deal with the continued demands from creditors and was naturally concerned about visits from the bailiffs.
We contacted Yvonne’s doctor and asked them to complete a “Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form” detailing her medical condition and how this affected her current situation. With this evidence, we wrote to her creditors who agreed to write off debts totalling over £5,000. We contacted the water company who agreed to recall the account from the High Court Enforcement Officers. With the help of her support worker, we persuaded the water company to accept the client onto a payment scheme whereby her payments to the account would be matched by the water company so that the debt would be cleared quicker.
Eddie’s employment headache
Eddie had been employed at a local dockyard company for over 8 years. As a result of the sort of heavy work he was doing he developed a shoulder injury that meant he was off work sick for a long time. The injury could not be proved to have been caused by the working environment. After Eddie had used up all of his company sick pay he was put on statutory sick pay. He then received a letter that indicated that he would probably be dismissed on capability grounds because there was no further light work for him to do.
We identified that this might be a case of disability discrimination. With our help, Eddie took his employer to an employment tribunal for disability discrimination and the employer eventually agreed to an out of court settlement of £14,000.
Mrs Smith’s lost benefit applications
Mrs Smith was nearing retirement age. She had not worked for two years due to mental illness. She failed a medical examination and her benefits stopped.
She signed on for Jobseeker’s Allowance but became increasingly stressed by her inability to find suitable work and the pressure of Jobcentre Plus to attend inappropriate courses. As she felt unable to work she sought advice from Jobcentre Plus and claimed Income Support and Incapacity Benefit. She received no money for over two months and despite trying to find out what was happening both Mrs Smith and our advisers were unable to get a clear explanation from the DWP.
We were able to identify what had gone wrong with the claiming process and made three separate appeals regarding Income Support and Incapacity Benefit. Mrs Smith pursued a complaint with the DWP following further problems with payment and delays in dealing with the appeals. The DWP started to pay the benefit due to her and once all the appeals had been resolved, all arrears due to the client were paid.
Tom’s debt dilemma
Tom used to run his own business, but says another company ‘stole’ his company and customers a few years ago. He had severe mental health issues, including schizophrenia. Tom lived in a mortgaged property and had four charging orders totalling over £136k. He had several other debts. Tom was being pursued by HMRC for late tax returns and they were in the process of bankrupting him. Tom couldn’t bear the thought of this and any risk to his home.
We wrote to HMRC and had several telephone conversations with them. We provided a support letter and asked the Mental Health Team to write a support letter also. We were able to show that Tom had not been mentally well enough to work and had not been well enough to file tax returns, which he didn’t think he had to file. As a result of our intervention, HMRC attended the bankruptcy court hearing and dismissed their bankruptcy petition and made no order for costs. They agreed they would not bankrupt Tom and would not pursue him any further. They wrote off over £54k.
Some months later, Tom contacted us again as he was being pursued once again by HMRC for late filing of tax returns and VAT of £4k. We again intervened and again managed to avert any action, ensuring the debts were written off and Tom would not be pursued further.
Tom said that with our help and assistance, he is now able to think about getting better, now he no longer has the pressure of endless letters and phone calls. He is pleased we stopped the bankruptcy, got the HMRC debts written off and he is still living in his home.
Pat’s benefit appeal
Pat had applied for Disability Living Allowance and received only the lower rate care component. Pat said that he had problems walking and looking after himself because of shortness of breath and pains in his lower back and legs. The DWP had asked his GP about the effects of his condition on his daily life. The GP had only provided a report about Pat’s medical condition.
We helped Pat prepare an appeal and prepared a report for his Tribunal hearing. We told Pat that he must attend with his wife for both of them to give personal evidence about his daily life.
The Tribunal adjourned the hearing to obtain an independent doctor’s report and upon receipt of this report awarded Pat the middle rate care and higher rate mobility components. As a result, his wife additionally qualified for Carer’s Allowance.
Pat’s income increased by nearly £95 per week as a result of the increased award.