Hastoe Housing Officer, Ben, contacted resident Mohamed to discuss his current payments to see if he could bring his payments in advance, rather than be in monthly arrears.
Mohamed advised that he was experiencing financial hardship and couldn’t afford to do this, so Ben immediately referred Mohamed to Hastoe’s Welfare and Benefits service.
Lisane, Benefit and Welfare Advisor, got in touch with Mohamed to see how she could support him. She soon discovered that Mohamed and his wife were living in a three-bedroom property that they had lived in for over 20 years. Their children had moved out some years previous, so their Housing Benefit was reduced due to under-occupying their property, meaning they had to pay £123 per month towards rent. Both Mohamed and his wife have serious health conditions, which means they cannot work and need separate rooms for sleeping but were still penalised due to the bedroom tax. They had always prioritised their rent payments, so this had never come to light before. The property had been adapted for their needs, including installing a wet room all paid for from their own money. Their disability benefit had also been reduced, meaning they had already had to make financial adjustments and had lost the mobility car and had to purchase a much older car incurring higher running costs. The increased bills, along with the rising cost of energy and food, was further squeezing their finances. They were living on a budget of £54 per week for food and extras.
Lisane got straight on to helping them, applying to the local authority for some additional help through the Discretionary Housing Payment fund. This is additional money held by the local authority that is available to residents who are experiencing financial hardship and need some extra financial help. Lisane provided the local authority with rent statements, a full financial breakdown and proof of income plus a letter to support the application.
Mohamed and his wife were awarded the cost of the under occupation charge backdated to April and to be paid until March of the following year. This meant they no longer had to pay towards their rent giving them an extra £123 per month plus a lump sum rent refund of £250 and they have now been able to pay their rent one month in advance.
Lisane, Benefit and Welfare Advisor, said: “To be able to make such a difference to people’s lives is hugely gratifying for me. I love being able to use my expertise to help people – it’s such a powerful tool. We had a great outcome for Mohamed and his wife, and I hope other Hastoe residents will contact us to see how we can help”.
Get in touch with the Benefit and Welfare Service now to see how we can help you.