Help during Covid-19
Sharon rang the adviceline in a distressed state looking for advice with benefits and debt.
She disclosed to us she is married with two young children. Sharon is a shop manager currently not working being signed off from her GP due to lasting effects of contracting COVID-19, her GP has diagnosed her as suffering from long term Covid. She was earning approx.., £21K a year.
Sharon explained to our adviser her husband Terry has long term health issues and is recovering from the effects of contracting COVID-19. Before March he was able to do the occasional work as a self employed barber since receiving a shielding letter he has not been able to work.
We discussed with Sharon if Terry had any care or mobility issues and Sharon explained his long term health issue is due to a leg injury and he now has to walk with aids which is why she feels he will never may never work in the foreseeable future. Our adviser established by exploring Terry’s work history that he unfortunately was not eligible for the Coronavirus self employed grant.
We explored further and explained he may be able to claim for a non-means tested benefit called PIP. Sharon was pleased we had discussed this benefit with her as she had not thought about any disability benefits. Our adviser explained we have a Disability Rights Unit and once Terry has applied for the forms he could contact us and we would support him in completing the forms.
It was explained to Sharon that her and Terry could make a joint claim for Universal Credit. Sharon admitted they both had limited capability to use a computer so our adviser arranged an appointment for our HTC Adviser to ring them and walk them through the claim on line. Sharon said she felt re-assured having this appointment and would get all the information and ID ready for the appointment.
Sharon became quite distressed at having to face the prospect of dealing with outstanding debts and told the adviser she has been burying her head in the sand. She told us she had mounting debts and didn’t know where to start with dealing with them. At this stage the adviser asked Sharon if she would like to talk to our Debt Caseworker and she agreed.
Our Caseworker contacted Sharon the same day to re-assure her and establish Sharon’s current debt situation. She had £1,000 outstanding with Council Tax and was now receiving demand letters. It was explained to her she could apply for a DHP once the Universal Credit claim had been made and also Council Tax Reduction. She was re-assured she would have the help to make these claims with the support from our Caseworker.
Also established in the phone call was outstanding utility bills for both gas and electricity of £1500. Our Caseworker discussed with Sharon all of her options and it was decided that Sharon would be contacting the utility company and requesting pre-payment metres which although are more expensive would help her to budget weekly which Sharon said she preferred She also discussed and advised her if eligible how to apply for Warm Home discount Scheme of £140 off her electricity bill for winter 2020 to 2021.
A food voucher was offered and at first Sharon was hesitant to accept charity but did accept.
Our Caseworker made a further appointment with Sharon following her appointment to make the application for Universal Credit. She had the assurance she would have the support with budgeting and dealing with repayments to help her to manage her money going forward and not get into further arrears.
Sharon said she felt so relieved with the advice and support she had received from Rugby CAB today she may even be able to sleep tonight. She felt there was light at the end of the tunnel.
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