Our client was in fact entitled to SSP at £87.55 per week. We were able to send the client a fact sheet on SSP that she could give to her employer. Our client then discussed her sick pay with her employer again who agreed that she was in fact entitled. Our client was also entitled to holiday pay which she had not been receiving on the same basis and so had only taken a couple of days off through the year without payment. Our client is also entitled to back pay of annual leave. Our client felt very reassured by our emails and telephone calls and felt able to talk to her employers knowing that we would speak on her behalf if necessary. Our client has now been given a permanent contract with her employers, has had a very positive surgery for her cancer and will be commencing radiotherapy soon. Our client is able to do this knowing that she is receiving her full entitlement and her employers are treating her fairly.
“Got my results yesterday, the surgeon got all of the cancer out. So now I just have to have radiotherapy and drug therapy for 5 years.
I cannot believe it….. I really do not know how to thank everyone who has helped me get where I am now. I cannot tell you the huge relief I felt when you e-mailed and phoned me after you did so much to sort out the details , that I could take to my employer and get sick pay. You are a star and a shining example to others. Thank you is not enough for all you have done for me.
Keep up the good work. Without your help I would not have been able to get where I am, as having to worry about the cancer and the worry of how I would manage with no money coming in was too huge to explain, but you sorted part of that and the surgeon sorted the other out. Team work, without you even meeting. Fantastic.”
The Mental Health Adviser discovered that the client had separated from her partner in 2010 and had been claiming incapacity benefit at the time. She had subsequently moved onto contributory Employment & Support Allowance (ESA). At no time had she been told that she might be entitled to income related benefits, even though she had told the Department for Work & Pensions that she had separated from her partner.
The adviser found that the client could have been receiving an extra £98 per week in income related benefits from the time she separated from her partner. Although the benefit rules did not allow her to receive full backdating for the additional income related benefits she was entitled to (this would have been a total of more than £12,500) the client at least was able to start receiving the benefit from the time she visited our Mental Health Project.
The adviser also discovered that the client was still paying back a Social Fund loan that had actually been completely repaid 3 ½ years previously, so the client received a refund of over £770.
And the free prescriptions? The client could now claim these because of the income related benefit she now received.
When she notified his death at the registry office she was offered the “Just Tell Us Once” system which notifies all statutory agencies of a death. She found, however, that as a result of using this system all the benefits they had previously received stopped very quickly, due to them being in her late husband’s name. This resulted in her being left with no money coming in, compounding her stress and distress.
Her need for financial assistance became even more urgent due to her pressing need to pay for her late husband’s funeral.
Although the client was very distressed when she met the adviser she managed to explain her situation fully. As a result it was suggested that in the first instance they apply for a Local Assistance Scheme payment of £150 from Surrey County Council to help the her buy food, and other necessities, in the short term. She was also advised to obtain a doctor’s note stating that due to the distress caused by her recent bereavement, she was currently not in a position to work.
The adviser explained that she could apply for her own benefits which would make a big difference to her in the longer term. Due to her concern as to how she could afford to pay for the funeral, the adviser suggested that she also apply for a grant to help with the funeral costs. The client and the adviser then worked together to apply for both the grant and the benefits to which she was entitled.
The client found that being able to get an appointment so fast, and so locally to her, meant she could get the advice and support she needed when she most needed it.
Over the course of further appointments, and whilst completing the PIP form with him, the adviser learned that he had recently been served a section 21 notice by his landlord to leave his accommodation. This notice coincided with him being signed off from work due to the deterioration in his health. Being so unwell and not knowing where he might end up made this an extremely worrying time for him.
The adviser wrote a letter for him to take, along with a letter from his GP, to his housing office at the council.
As a result of the letters, the client was quickly reassessed and given a higher priority for social housing.
Shortly afterwards, not only was the client was informed that his claim for PIP had been successful, gaining him £102 extra per week, but the adviser received an email from his daughter that he had been offered a new flat and the council were busy painting it and making necessary adjustments to it for him.
During the ten years they had lived at that address they had paid their bills to this company quarterly but when these quarterly bills became too high they changed to a monthly direct debit.
Over time, however, the direct debit charges had also become too high. Due to their increasing concern over the escalating charges, the clients contacted the utility provider. As a result of this contact the utility company wrote back to the couple, three times, on the same date. Each letter gave a total for their monthly payment. Each total was different.
The clients became both increasingly confused and anxious as to how they could pay any of the amounts being quoted; all were far higher than expected for a property the size of theirs. Due to the increased bills they were now paying they did not have enough money left to pay other bills; this left them feeling extremely upset.
When clients came in to see the adviser, she called the utility company. It became apparent that the meter had only been read three times in the ten years they had lived at their address and that they had not been submitting their own readings in between. Due to the lack of readings, all their bills had been determined by their computer system and estimated.
The adviser suggested that the recent bills, based on the clients own reading, were still too high and so another calculation was done. This resulted in a refund of £1,300 from the utility provider to the couple and greatly reduced monthly payments.