Here are a few client stories that are typical of those that we deal with every day. We have not, of course, used the clients’ real names.
Kelly had struggled with her finances after the breakdown of her relationship as her ex-partner had controlled all the household income. Looking after her children on her own, she found herself with rent and council tax arrears. The Council Tax arrears had been passed to bailiffs who had attended her home to take control of goods, she was so frightened that she spent most of her time at a friend’s house Our adviser helped Kelly gather all the information that she needed for a Debt Relief Order and worked through the application process with her. Kelly had £4,500 written off and can begin to build a new life for herself and her children. “I feel I can actually relax in my own home” she told us after the Order had been granted.
Gareth was referred to us by Communities First in Blaenau Gwent. He had been unemployed for 5 years but Communities First had found him work for an initial period of 6 months with the possibility for the contract to be extended further. Gareth really wanted to take up the opportunity, but needed to know whether starting work would be financially beneficial. Our adviser went through the situation in detail, working out Gareth’s current finances and how they would stand when in work. After taking into account Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits and Child Benefit on top of his take-home pay we were able to show Gareth that he would be £118.36 per week better off as a result of being employed. We also arranged for him to have advice with managing his finances to help make sure problems did not rise in future. Good, accurate advice can give people the confidence to make the move back into employment that they may otherwise have turned down.
Janet was living in supported accommodation following the breakup of an abusive relationship. She was referred to us for help with budgeting as she was worried about how she would manage when she left the temporary accommodation. Working through the Confident with Cash training programme with the support of our adviser gave her the confidence to successfully challenge her internet provider who was charging her for a service she wasn’t receiving. As a result they refunded the payments that they had taken in error. Janet said that the service “has helped me and given me reassurance and lots of confidence in what I’m entitled to and that I do matter to society”
Mavis called Adviceline Cymru for help with a benefit enquiry and was transferred to one of our outreach Advisers. She and her husband were both in their late 60s and were suffering significant health problems. Mavis was housebound and her husband was her main carer, he had tried to claim Carer’s Allowance, but was refused as he was also in receipt of Retirement Pension. The decision letter told him that he may have an underlying entitlement to the carer’s premium, but he did not understand what this was. During a home visit the adviser from our Better Advice: Better Lives project identified that John was entitled to Pension Credit, with a Carer’s Addition and full help with Council Tax giving him an additional £50 per week.
David was living on ESA and caring for his 10 year old son. On their first visit to his home, the advisers found that David’s ESA had stopped and the only money that he had received over the previous four weeks was £20.70 per week Child Benefit. Contacting the DWP, the adviser found out that a clerical error had been made. They arranged for an emergency payment of £500 to be paid into David’s Post Office account before the end of the day.
Rhiannon was a single parent and had recently taken over the tenancy of the family home from her mother. She was nervous about how she would manage the day to day bills. Our financial capability tutor helped us draw up a budget and work out exactly where her money was going. This showed that she was regularly buying over the counter medicines as she was unaware that she could ask her doctor for medication she regularly takes for migraines. Understanding her expenditure has helped her manage better and keep within her budget. Rhiannon said “I didn’t expect this much help or such excellent service. My life has changed for the better since your help and advice, thank you”.