Welfare Reform Project
Welfare Reforms continue to have a detrimental effect on families, especially those living on benefits that are below the breadline. Due to the complexity of issues, letters from statutory bodies which are difficult to understand, lack of telephone facilities, and in some cases Mental Health, clients need all the support they can get. Some client interviews can last in excess of an hour trying to disentangle the clients benefit issues.
The Welfare Reform Service ensures that people impacted by Welfare Reform are supported and receive advice to minimize the impact of change. This includes; advice on benefit entitlements, completing applications, challenging refusals, and improving referral networks.
The project offers outreach clinics in: Caldercruix, Plains and Salsburgh community centres, Airdrie Foodbank, Monklands hospital, The Culture Café and home visits.
Client names have been changed to protect their identity.
Maggie was referred for advice by the ward staff from our local hospital. Maggie received correspondence advising her Employment & Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit & Council Tax Reduction were suspended. Maggie was concerned of accruing rent arrears and upset at the thought she could be evicted as a result.
We advised Maggie these benefits are interlinked through qualifying rules and the suspension of ESA impacted her Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction. A phone call to Benefits Enquiries helpline clarified ESA was suspended as Maggie’s medical certificate had expired.
We advised Maggie to obtain a medical certificate from the Ward staff covering the period whilst she was an in-patient and from her GP following discharge. Maggie’s mother offered assistance to arrange these and hand them into the local Jobcentre Plus office. We advised Maggie once the medical certificates were received by DWP, her ESA will be paid.
We telephoned the local Housing Office and advised them of the situation. They agreed to take no enforcement action would be taken on the basis that they are kept informed of benefits being reinstated and of any anticipated delays.
Maggie was extremely worried and advised she felt a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Through our partnership relations with the hospital staff, they were aware of the assistance we could provide and able to make a timely referral which prevented Maggie further anxiety and savings to the public purse and court should the matter have resulted in raising eviction proceedings.
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