When John* found himself in rent arrears back in 2014 he had hit dire financial straits and was reliant on food banks for sustenance. When he started to get behind with his rent we got in touch to find out what was going on. An initial discussion with John prompted our Housing Officer to refer his case to a Tenancy Sustainability Officer (TSO) to offer support.
Life had taken a difficult turn for John, he was suffering from mental health issues – which had escalated – and he had turned to drink to block everything out.
Our TSO Diane, listened to John’s story and investigated ways in which his income could be maximised to overcome his financial shortfalls. She contacted utility companies on his behalf and accessed a £750 grant from Yorkshire Water which could be used against his debt. She also started a claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and accompanied him to his assessment. Whilst the outcome of the ESA claim was being decided, Diane started an application for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This would provide John with support for his mental health needs.
In November 2014 John’s ESA claim was awarded and £700 backdated. In the meantime, the PIP process was going through the necessary stages. John’s PIP claim was rejected and so an appeal was started which would take his case to a tribunal.
At the tribunal John had the opportunity to tell the judge about his situation and mental health. After a tense wait for a decision, supported by TSO Diane, on the 14th August 2015, John was awarded £5,761 backdated with an ongoing weekly payment of £82.30 per week.
John wanted to make the money count, so he cleared his rent arrears, invested in driving lessons and purchased a car, as well as donating money to a charitable organisation that helped him when he was out drinking on the streets. His new mobility enabled him to get back into work and has made a huge difference to his life.
*Names changed to protect identity