Debt & Homelessness - A life transformed
Client came to us for assistance in considerable distress. She had been unemployed for some time, living off credit cards with no fixed address. She had not eaten for 2 days. She was in B&B accommodation but her food was from handouts and begging. Client was not entitled to benefits for 26 weeks as she had left
her job voluntarily. Her debts were £2000 and her phone had been stolen whilst sleeping rough. Her clothes were in storage and she was unable to pay the bill. Nevertheless,she was applying for jobs and was determined to pay off her debts.
She just needed the information and support to get started.
Over the course of several visits, our volunteer advisers helped get her life back on track.
- We provided information and support to help her apply for benefits and crisis services
- When benefit payments came through, we negotiated token payments to creditors – including the storage company. Our client could now access her clothing for job interviews.
- When she secured a job with a hotel , we helped her find a rented flat and offered support with budgeting and managing her limited finances.
The client wrote to us recently. With our help, she had paid her debts in full and turned her life around.
Housing - The 'bedroom tax'
In July 2013 client visited us because he had a housing benefit reduction because he lives by himself. His second bedroom measured 1.82m by 1.52m. The client was receiving Job Seekers Allowance and was now having to pay £39.44 extra per month. The client has raised the issue with both the Council and Housing Association. Our adviser drafted letters to the above to state that the flat should be classed as a 1 bedroom rather than 2 as the room is not large enough to fit in a single bed and is unsuitable for a lodger. The reason for how the decision was made to classify it as a 2 bedroom flat was also requested.
In November the client let us know that his flat had been re-classified as a 1 bedroom, a saving of £473.28 per year and he was ‘over the moon.’
Employment - Helping people stay in work
Client is profoundly deaf and only speaks British Sign Language (BSL). He works as a qualified tradesman and has done without issue for years. He was originally employed by a family company but had been recently transferred to a larger firm. The client contacted us as he was facing a disciplinary and dismissal for gross misconduct for a breach of health and safety procedure.
On investigation by our adviser, it appeared that the disciplinary was unfair as no reasonable adjustment had been made for the client’s deafness, including adjustments to ensure communication of any work procedures. Our adviser wrote to the client’s employer detailing the breach of the Equality Act 2010 and reminding the employer that a suitably qualified BSL translator should be provided for the client at the disciplinary hearing.
The outcome of the disciplinary hearing - instead of the projected dismissal - was a written warning. The client decided not to appeal the warning but asked us for help to request reasonable changes so that situations such as this did not arise again in his work place. The client is still employed, the written warning has expired and our client’s employer has worked hard to improve communication.
In Court Advice Service - A small claims action
Client had a small claims action raised against her for over £500. She had not paid fees relating to communal repairs, as she did not believe that they had been divided correctly. Client had made it clear to the pursuer that she was willing to pay the sum that she believed was due, however, the pursuer would not accept her argument. Client came to us for advice on her legal position. We undertook the relevant legal research and arranged for a solicitor to read the title deeds at one of our our pro bono legal clinics. The client was correct about her legal position and we conveyed the client’s legal argument to the pursuer. Negotiation by our In Court Advice Service resulted in settlement for the correct sum owed and the court action was dismissed.