Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire
AIM AND MISSION
To provide free, confidential and independent advice to help anyone overcome their problems and a voice for clients and consumers on the issues that matter to them.
To provide advice and support to help people manage and solve their problems
To improve policies and practices that adversely affect people’s lives
Helping 62-yr old Bob with financial issues, debt and benefits
Bob lives alone in rented Housing Association accommodation. He had bailiffs calling for council tax arrears, had his gas disconnected as he could not pay the standing charge, water payments were being deducted at a rate of £10.25 per week from his JSA, and he had not eaten for 2 days.
Bob was unable to work due to nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy), the cause of which is still unknown. The effects of the nerve damage are that his muscles are wasting and he is unable to walk properly due to very little sensation in his feet and legs. His marriage broke up and he was homeless for a time.
Though, his total debts were not huge, around £2,000, they dominated his life and he became very depressed with the stress of knowing he could never pay these back. He did not see any way out of his situation except for dying.
Citizens Advice helped Bob:
maximise his income by helping him apply for Personal Independence Payments, change claim to Employment Support Allowance instead of Job Seekers Allowance
apply to St Monica’s Trust charity for £90 to pay the fee for him to apply for a Debt Relief Order
apply for a Debt Relief Order: was approved within a day, meaning that all his debts will be written off in one year and in the meantime no creditor, including bailiffs, can take any enforcement action
reduction in Bristol & Wessex Water bill through their social policy scheme for customers in receipt of a means tested benefit
given several food vouchers until his benefits were awarded,
“This has made a huge difference to me. I can’t thank you enough for the difference you have made. Thanks to you I will soon be debt free. I am no longer stressed and, best of all, I know where I can come if I ever need help in the future,” says Bob
Helping Charles gain a new lease of live
Charles, 70 year old widowed gentleman who lives alone in rented accommodation. He was in receipt of a state pension and a small occupational pension, he was not claiming all financial support he was entitled to, so was unable to eat a balanced diet, often cold as he couldn’t afford heating and he felt lonely as he could not afford to socialise.
We did a benefit check which showed that he was entitled to pension credit of £7.56 per week, so we telephoned the DWP on his behalf to make a claim. This passported him into an entitlement of extra Housing Benefit, an increase of £5.35 per week.
Citizens Advice helped Charles:
contacted his energy supplier, EDG, who then transferred him to single rate tariff on a new plan immediately reducing monthly from £54 to £34, offering a winter payment of £200 as well as the Warm Home discount of £140.
helped him access his entitlement to Pension Credit which included 20% off his water bill, free dental treatment, help towards cost of glasses and travel to hospital and the cold weather payment.
In all, Charles saw an increase in his annual income by £2,566.08, a back payment of Pension Credit of £650, making a total of £3,216.08 extra income
Charles says “I came here expecting nothing and am overwhelmed with how much extra money I now have. I live on my own and I try to be independent. Having this extra money means I can go to the pub. I don’t drink much, but it gets me out to be with people. It’s the only time I have company. For so long I was unable to go out and I used to sit on my own in my flat. But best of all, I’ve got £650 – I’ve never had so much money before in my account. I’ve always wanted to go to Benidorm, and I’m going to go! I’m going to book a holiday for the first time in years!”