Our client, who we’ll call Ann, is vulnerable. In her 60s, she was referred to us by Adult Social Care. She has health problems and is in and out of hospital. Without close family or friends, she isn’t comfortable or adept with her mobile. She doesn’t have a computer.
In short, Ann can’t make ends meet. She doesn’t yet qualify for a state pension and her small private pension isn’t enough to cover outgoings. She has never applied for benefits. She owns the lease on her flat but hasn’t kept up with service charges and has growing debts. She receives an occasional foodbank delivery and small support from the local church.
It’s an unhappy situation for a once capable person who has always worked. When she retired she had been an administrator in a blue light service for many years.
“Our first conversation didn’t go very well. Ann wasn’t at all communicative. We gathered she never used to pick up the phone, but now she knows my Citizens Advice number and can see it’s me. We made some progress in following conversations and I think she now trusts us a bit more.
“I talked with colleagues and we agreed our aim would be to stabilise Ann’s income and quality of life until she can claim her state pension which is still several years off.
“We did a full benefit assessment which showed up quite a lot of possibilities. We held a conference call with Ann and the DWP and began a PIP application. I talked to the council and helped Ann start applying for council tax reduction. I also set up an appointment for her with one of our specialist debt advisers.
“I’m sure all this will help but what I’m most pleased about is I think we’ve won Ann’s confidence. We will call her each week for the next couple of months to help and check on progress. It’s great we’ve reached this client before her situation became much worse which could easily have happened. She really had no chance without us or someone like us.
“For me what kind of sums up the case is a small example of how we help. On the conference about PIP our DWP call-handler was really helpful but spoke with a rich Scouse accent Ann just couldn’t understand!”
Ann is one of so many whose quality of life is lower than it should be because they don’t receive the social support they’re entitled to. This damages the health, happiness and security of individuals and families whose difficulties in turn put a strain on the economy.
Read more: £16 billion remains unclaimed in means tested benefits each year entitledto, 27/02/20