Families 1st aims to ensure that carers with young children (8 and younger) or children with disability (no age limit) get the support they need. Funded by the Scottish Legal Aid Board - Families 1st works in partnership with Motherwell and Wishaw CAB, Bellshill and Mossend YMCA; operating on a referral only system.
The project offers advice and assistance, helping carers to tackle financial and emotional pressures placed on them by changing circumstances. Our team also provides group financial education workshops - with the added benefit of one to one Money Advice sessions on request, raising awareness of local services available.
Since the projects inception, Families 1st has partnered with further community agencies including: NHS Lanarkshire, NLC, Covey befriending, Routes to Work, SOS advocacy and many more.
Client names have been changed to protect their identity.
Sally was referred to Families 1st by her support worker. Sally is a single parent, with two dependant children and lives in rented accommodation. Sally suffers from mental health issues which have deteriorated over the years. Her support worker arranged an appointment initially for a benefit check to be carried out as she was concerned that Sally may not be claiming the relevant health benefits for herself and her youngest child. Sally is currently in receipt of Employment & Support Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Severe Disability Premium, Child Tax Credits, Child Benefit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.
When we first met with the client, we carried out a routine benefit check to ensure that Sally was receiving everything that she was entitled to. Sally is receiving all available health benefits for herself, however, she does not get Disability Living Allowance for her son and on discussion of his health and needs, it was agreed that an application should be submitted.
When speaking to the client, it became apparent that she had various debts that she was unable to pay. Due to low income and her prospects for returning to work, Sally felt that she was struggling to manage her day to day finances.
Firstly, we made an application for Disability Living Allowance in respect of her son, which was subsequently awarded at Middle Rate Care and Low Rate Mobility - £76.90 per week, which then qualified Sally for an increase in child tax credits of £60.38 per week, giving a total increase in income of £137.28 per week.
Next we looked at the client’s income and expenditure. Now that the household income had increased with the additional benefit payments, we drew up a weekly budget which Sally is currently working on putting this budget in to practice and also saving for events (birthdays/school trips etc.) in advance rather than borrowing to pay for these items.
After outgoings, Sally did not have enough money left over to pay her debts as they fall due. Her debts currently stand at £13,000 and due to her poor health and caring responsibilities for her son; it is unlikely that she will return to work for a number of years. After discussing the options with the client, she decided that she wished to pursue bankruptcy as a method of debt relief. She felt that this would give her a ‘fresh start’ and allow her to start managing her finances better on a day to day basis without worrying about which debts needed to be paid.
We completed an application for bankruptcy under the Minimal Asset Procedure which was awarded and no debtor contribution was required.
Sally expressed her appreciation of our involvement as we have eased the financial burden that she was experiencing. Sally feels that she has been given a fresh start and is now able to make her money last throughout the month. She is now in a position that she can start to put money by each month in anticipation of future events, such as, birthdays, Christmas etc.