In this issue:
The outcomes of the research into UC50 issues were shared at the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA) conference in September.
Basically the work capability assessment (WCA) should trigger 29 days after a sick note is first registered. This is a manual process and there was some confusion as to who was actually responsible for doing this. However it is being regularly missed. The DWP’s advice at the time NAWRA contacted them for a response was for the claimant to request a WCA on their journal when they submit the sick note. This should then trigger the issue of the UC50 after day 29. Not ideal – but at least you can advise clients to do this.
The Government have stated that £500m funding is being distributed between local councils across UK to pay for essentials like food, clothes and utilities. Bearing in mind the UC cut will amount to £6bn it won’t amount to much per person. Applications will probably to be made through councils but no details are available as yet.
We have been supporting a client in a lot of debt due to historical financial abuse and disability discrimination from his estranged family and neighbours. From the offset when we first got in touch with this client (In Feb), it was established he could only communicate via email or home visit. Obviously COVID prevented home visit and so our email conversations began. His original debt was under the DRO limit but he had surplus income so he chose Bankruptcy. Once Credit reports were received we established a Mortgage debt (joint with ex wife) and this is where it got complicated and we had to seek specialist support and legal information. This client came to us very depressed and in his words ‘I cant do this anymore, I think it best to just be out of everybody’s way’
How did we help?
He was being victimised by neighbours and family members were stealing from him, he was paying credit cards off (not his) and not paying his essential bills like rent. Consequently rent arrears built up and these were cleared by a DHP from Knowsley Council approx. £3899.00 with the help of Plus Dane who have supported this client through this.
We submitted his Bankruptcy application and the Insolvency Service approved it – total written off £55185.00. We applied to United Utilities on behalf of our client and they paid the £680.00 bankruptcy fee so a total gain of £55,865.00
What were the results?
Our client was urgently relocated to another home and has now settled in giving him a new lease of life, he has met someone new and is now debt free. This is why we do what we do – making lives better – Go RAISE!
The support provided by Raise’s ENABLE services has been invaluable to me. After completing my MA in Social Work and undertaking a placement at my local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, I was very eager to secure employment within the NHS working therapeutically alongside children.
How did we help?
Justina James of ENABLE services at Raise, along with her colleagues Adam Roberts, Linda Daley, Emma Cook and Jude Deakin helped me with the entire application process. I was given guidance on completing the application to the NHS itself, as well as being introduced to the ‘STAR’ method something I now understand many employers use in their recruitment process. Justina also very helpfully drew upon her own life experience to help me, and this instilled in me a sense of resilience. I had previously viewed unsuccessful applications in a negative light- however, Justina made me see that
Unsuccessful applications are part of the process and help’s one build resilience going forward. Justina went on to gather the Person Specification of the Therapeutic role and guided me to link my answers Specifically to this. Furthermore, Justina spent several hours in Raise’s office undertaking a mock NHS interview with me. Justina came prepared with a wealth of questions and gave me helpful feedback after the mock interview had finished. Justina pointed out my strengths as well as areas for development. Justina went on to subscribe her feedback from the interview, so I had a copy of this for future reference. Afterwards, Justina even emailed me very useful links as well as further questions to look out for at interview.
What were the results?
As I write this, I have now secured not just an interview with NHS England but a position with them. I am incredibly grateful for the guidance the staff at Raise gave to me, and how prepared they made me feel for my interview. The team went above and beyond, and I am incredibly grateful for being given the opportunity to develop my skills in the recruitment process.
Quote from Justina James
“It was a pleasure to support Michelle with her NHS job application. She has a wealth of academic qualifications, and relevant work experience gained from work placements whilst undertaking her Masters qualification. However she just needed a bit of guidance and feedback on how she was structuring her best examples in her application form and then how she would respond to questions that would be asked at interview. So, after a few 1:1 meetings teaching Michelle some techniques and her practising these, she was successful at getting selected for an interview. Michelle listened, welcomed feedback and acted on this, which is down to her efforts putting the extra practice in. I wish Michelle every success in her future job and dream career working with children and young people.”
Big Energy Saving Winter is a national campaign which runs from November to the end of January to help people cut their energy bills and get the financial support they are entitled to. We all have the power to save energy, money and the environment through everyday actions. Simple changes such as switching energy supplier or tariff, accessing discounts or grants, and making homes more energy-efficient can make a big difference.
Earlier this month, the DWP announced that it was extending the deadline for closing Post Office accounts to November 2022 – HMRC have not joined them in this decision.
New research finds that significant fall in food insecurity would require broader increase in benefit levels, including abolition of bedroom tax and benefit cap. ‘A £500 million fund can only make up for the loss of £20 per week for 1 million households (probably 1.3 million adults). Even if the fund is targeted perfectly, it cannot cover all of the 1.7 million who were severely food insecure, and can cover less than half of the 3.0 million who had any food insecurity. The end of the uplift not only risks more people falling into food insecurity; most universal credit claimants already in food insecurity will lose £20 per week as well.’
Key achievements of the New Horizons Project:
• 198 hours of volunteering has been provided to Raise clients, mentored intensively through one-to-one support from our volunteer & training co-ordinator.
We have had 8 active volunteers for the period July – September. Throughout this time they are developing a wide range of employability skills, dealing with incoming emails, managing an email post in box, making outgoing enquiries to clients from welfare case workers and updating a customer database of actions taken. The variety of tasks they have completed are: helping clients complete PIP forms over the phone with support from experienced welfare case workers; making Energy Voucher applications; Food Bank Vouchers; DWP calls to chase up decision; DWP calls for breakdown of benefits; LCC calls to check clients Housing Benefit and Council Tax award; calls to check DHP outcomes; sourcing local community providers of free school uniforms; obtaining income details from clients to process DHP requests and calling clients for updates.
We have 5 successful outcomes from the New Horizons project, where the volunteers have gone on to secure employment in their chosen sectors of work: IAG, finance and Social work.
They have had a personalised approach to meet their individual needs in order to be successful applying jobs and attaining the posts they applied for after interview. This has involved the employment and support adviser, providing over 20 hours of one to one advice to 7 NH clients, starting within initial advice and assessing their specific needs, then guiding them through online job search support and setting up alerts and accounts related to sectors clients are interested in working in. Clients are also getting feedback on how to reformat and develop their CV’s and cover letters. Then when the clients feel ready to start applying for jobs, giving guidance with completing online job applications, how to write competency based examples based on their previous work experience, skills and to preparing and undertaking mock interviews.
Feedback from clients – regarding Employment and support advice provided
“Hi Justina, I am so glad you offered me this opportunity today. I feel it has enabled me to quell any fears I had about being interviewed. You have given me the confidence to believe in myself and my ability to hopefully become a valued member of the great team here at RAISE.I will take on your feedback and apply it when I get to have any future interviews. With appreciation, Tereza” email 13/08/2021.
“Ah thanks so much Justina, this is amazing! Currently adding feedback online for yourself and others 🙂 Will shorty do that write up also so you can use for the case study Many thanks again for your valued help, Kindest regards, Michelle” email 9/7/2021
I joined Raise July 2020 as an Advice Assistant in the debt team. Primarily my work is administration inputting details to databases and sending post out for colleagues currently working from home. I send off starter packs which include an introductory letter and Forms of Authority, Client agreements and GDPR forms, if required will also send out credit report requests for our client to fill out and return. I can carry out initial triage debt calls to obtain information for our Money Advice Caseworkers. I also enjoy applying for grants for clients to fund the Debt Relief Orders, Bankruptcy or for help with water bills and utility bills.
I am currently assisting with the telephone lines for Raise and one day a week, which is a learning curve as topics and enquiries are varied.
I started here at RAISE after a long hard struggle spending Lockdown like most stuck at home Shielding. I felt isolated and vulnerable especially because I didn’t know how long it would last.
Then I was thrown a lifeline!
Someone told me about the opportunity to volunteer here at RAISE. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t have the confidence to put myself out there and I felt that I wouldn’t be experienced enough. But if lockdown taught me anything it was to take any future opportunities and give yourself the chance of new challenges.
I applied in April 2021 on Zoom at first, and then began volunteering by coming into the office one day a week. Raise were very flexible on how much time you gave them. I have to say it’s the best decision I could have made. I felt welcomed and felt useful. The work that RAISE do is undoubtedly so crucial to the community here in Merseyside. While I was volunteering, I was given the opportunity to develop my job search skills such as Interview techniques, CV building and Job applications, thanks to the great ENABLE Team here.
I was lucky enough to then apply for a full-time job when the opportunity came along and thanks to the skills I developed and my confidence growing day by day I was fortunate enough to be successful in getting the role. RAISE is a great place to come and work and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Team here now, both as a volunteer and then as an employee.
My confidence has grown immensely, and I feel valued and it’s so beneficial to my mental health getting into the routine of getting up early each morning and having a purpose.
I will be forever grateful to the person who put me in touch with the ENABLE team here at RAISE and I feel if I can do it anyone can. Just have some self-belief and all you can do is try!
I managed to get a debt written off merely by enquiring as to the liability – My client lost his mum last year and her pension continued to be paid. He was also a victim of domestic abuse and deteriorating health so ignored a lot of his bills and post etc. He confirmed that he wanted to pay the pension funds back as it was his late mums (ex partner was retaining funds and not paying bills) but after speaking to MPF, they told me that the invoice was to ‘the Exors of Mrs . . . ‘ so that means it is to the estate and as there was no Will this would not make my client liable = Win £1274.00 will be written off.
Claire Ponsonby, Money Advice Technical Lead at Raise
My client was awarded no points for either daily living nor mobility elements of PIP. He had to give up work due to sudden on set of seizures and shortly after his wife had to give up work to care for him full time. They were really struggling financially having lost 2 wages and were finding the benefits system very confusing and stressful as they had never claimed benefits before. They were devastated when the decision came back. I completed a detailed Mandatory Reconsideration of the PIP decision and my client was awarded 16 points enhanced mobility and 8 points standard daily living.
Tess Hargreaves, Welfare Rights Advisor at Raise
A client of mine had received an enforcement notice from bailiffs over unpaid council tax, I had it withdrawn and compliance fees cancelled saving the client a visit from bailiffs and £150!!
Rachael West, Money Advice Caseworker
Whilst all these monitory gains are great, it is important to recognise the difficulties that these clients, your tenants would have had during the period on non-payment or reduced payment of benefit.
Find all Raise Benefit Bulletins on our website https://www.benefitsadviceteam.co.uk/category/bulletins
CPAG produce useful updates for professional in Welfare Rights Bulletin. You can also sign up to receive the paper version at a cost.
The DWP produce useful items for professionals in Touchbase: DWP news about work, working-age benefits, pensions and services.
Newcastle Welfare Rights provide benefit bulletins for professionals.
Housing systems also provide an newsletters for Housing Association professionals.
Citizens Advice produce useful updates via Advisor.
We are a charity covering Liverpool and the surrounding areas. We receive funding from Registered Social Landlords to provide welfare rights, debt and financial capability advice to their tenants. To make a referral please visit our referral portal
We have provided Welfare Rights training to Housing Associations since 2008. Please see our website for a list of training available. Our training is written with Housing Association tenants in mind and we use our clients to inform the content of all our training material. All of our training can be tailored to meet the learning requirements of your staff. If you wish to speak to us about bespoke training, please email us at email@example.com