As well as helping over 2,500 local people who phoned or visited us, we advised well over 1,000 people via our new email and webchat service. We also provided advice in the homes of people who were unable to travel. Our 60 unpaid volunteers and our small team of part-time staff worked in partnership with the national Citizens Advice network and many other organisations to help clients with a wide range of problems, such as those in the case studies below.
A child with severe mental health issues was unfairly refused benefits and therefore unable to have a Blue Badge – so the carer could not use disabled bays. DWP are making it increasingly difficult for children with disabilities to claim mobility benefits.
Outcome We initiated a review of the case by a Tribunal and successfully obtained Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Mobility Element, which now qualifies the child for a Blue Badge.
An elderly widow asked us for a home visit. Disabled from birth, she had been receiving DLA payments and had been making ends meet until a loan for the installation of double glazing forced her to go overdrawn. She had to give up her weekly cleaner and cut down on a meals delivery service she used.
Outcome We helped her apply for increased DLA payments and to cut her monthly payments for utilities, phone and insurance. We also contacted the bank who provided her loan and they reduced the repayments. The client was able to get her bank account back into credit and reinstate her cleaning service and meal deliveries.
A single woman in her late 50s had to take early retirement when she was diagnosed with a progressive disease. She was unfairly refused a Blue Badge and was told her lump sum from work would mean she could not apply for most benefits.
Outcome We wrote to the Blue Badge Team and got their decision reversed. We also applied for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) on her behalf and she is now receiving both the Daily Living Component and the Mobility Component.
A family’s washing machine broke and after trying to repair it themselves, they called an engineer and were charged £150. For many of us this would not be a problem, but in this case both parents were unable to work and they had debts of over £10,000. They had to use their Child Tax Credit for the repair and were left with no money for food, nappies or electricity.
Outcome We obtained £70 from the Local Assistance Scheme and referred the family for help from the foodbank. They later obtained a Debt Relief Order.
A single man on JSA was sent for an interview with a large retail store. They refused to interview him as he did not have photo ID, eg, a driving licence. By not having the interview he risked being sanctioned.
Outcome We contacted the Job Centre, who agreed the man would not be sanctioned and that his photo ID would be paid for as not having ID was a ‘barrier to work’.
If you need advice you can drop in to our offices in the Portakabin behind the library on Knoll Rd in Camberley, call 03444 111 444, or e-mail/webchat via the Citizens Advice national service on www.citizensadvice.org.uk