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Case Study 1

English and Literacy Difficulties and the Need for on-going UC Support

Ms S came to see Big Local Works (BLW) after being referred by a Children’s Centre. She is a mother to 2 young children under the age of 3. English is not her first language and she struggles with reading and writing.

Her UC account was set up for her by a Southwark Council worker in 2016 but she went to withdraw money from a cash machine recently and saw that her Universal Credit Payment failed to go through. She had telephoned The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to explain her situation but was still unclear why no payment had been made.

BLW established, after helping Ms S to access her online accounts that DWP had been trying to contact her without success. Ms S had not received any other correspondence from DWP and was not made aware that she needed to check her Universal Credit Journal frequently. Ms S had been sanctioned and her claim was no longer active. To reactivate her claim she would need to fill in a new application and fulfill new claim commitments. BLW spoke to the DWP Freephone helpline: they were very apologetic and explained that a case manager should have contacted Ms S by letter as this should have sounded alarm bells when they were unable to make contact via the journal.

BLW helped Ms S with a Mandatory Reconsideration as she was now in rent arrears. This was successful. Ms S now attends BLW regularly for help and support with her UC claim.

Case study 2

Severely limited daily living and mobility needs

 Mr. L has severe physical health conditions following two heart attacks that occurred in June and July 2019. He also suffers depression and anxiety.

In September, Mr. L was advised by Southwark Council’s occupational therapist (OT) to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to help with daily living and mobility needs in accordance with PIP descriptors. He was signposted to us by OT.

We helped Mr. L Complete a PIP application and attended a consultation assessment with him as he required additional support.

Mr. L was refused PIP following his assessment. With the help and support from Big Local Works we completed a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR). 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reviewed their decision not to award PIP the first time and overturned their decision. Mr. L has now been awarded both elements of PIP: Standard rate daily living and enhanced rate mobility component.

He was backdated in the region of £3000 from the date he first contacted the DWP to make a claim for PIP. He had been awarded PIP for three years. 

Case Study 3

Placed in the wrong group of Employment and Support Allowance

Ms S was signposted to me by a support worker from South London Maudsley Hospital. Ms S was struggling to meet her daily expenditure needs and is a full-time carer for her daughter who has severe mental health problems. Ms S wanted to apply to Southwark Council for an Emergency Hardship Fund as she was finding impossible to replace household white goods and beds.

It was appropriate to carry out a benefit assessment to see if Ms S was in receipt of the right benefits. In that time Ms S has been in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and was transitioned on to this benefit from Incapacity Benefit around 10 years ago. When this transition took place, Ms S was placed in the contributory based ESA group, this group is for those who have been in work for 2 or more years and who have paid income tax and are out work due to ill health, this can be temporary or permanent.

Due to Ms S having always been in receipt of income-related benefits, she should have been transitioned on to the Income Related ESA group. Depending on the group a person is placed, they could be entitled to additional premiums, in Ms S’s case, she was losing these premiums due to being in the wrong group. We were able to make contact with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and expressed our concern that this had happened.

The DWP sent out a form, which we were able to fill out together and send off. In less than 5 weeks, Ms S received 5 cheques payments into her bank account to the amount of £23,000, which was owed to her.

This money cannot be classed as savings or capital as it is money owed to her that she was surviving without.

Ms S was suffering from ill health, physical and mental health problems and I asked her if she has ever heard of Personal Independence Payment, a non-means tested benefit that assists people with disabilities and health-related issues. Ms S is now in receipt of the correct benefit amounts and is no longer struggling like she was before.