It was a good two years ago that we first met Dennis, I'm calling him that to protect his privacy we all know that isn't his real name but the rest is real.
Age Concern called me to say that they were concerned about a gentleman who had been a council groundsman till ill health forced early retirement aged 60, they felt he needed some support.
I visited Dennis in his tiny rented flat, it took him some time to open the door due to the mountain of unopened post that lay behind it. Dennis told me that since retiring he had struggled to live off of his small works pension and so had started up in self employment but after three years he could go on no longer and had simply lived off of his savings.
It was clear immediately that there was much work that could be done but that most of the information that I needed was in that pile of unopened post and so we chatted and as he relaxed a bit I asked if I could throw away his junk mail,this he allowed me to do. Over two subsequent visits we opened white envelopes and then we opened brown envelopes and finally all became clear:
- Dennis was in arrears with his rent and being threatened with eviction
- No self assessment had been completed and he was being pursued by HMRC for £5,000
- He had a bank loan that was costing most of his pension to pay
- There was a debt to British Gas which had resulted in a prepayment meter being installed
- There were various utility debts and many, many insurances.
Our immediate actions were
- Contact the Housing Association to halt eviction proceedings whilst housing benefit claim was made
- Employed an accountant to urgently complete 3 years accounts
- Contacted HMRC to explain situation and put hold on account.
- Negotiated token payments on the bank loan.
- Applied to British Gas energy trust for a grant for the arrears
- Contacted the utility providers to put holds on any action whilst we worked with the client.
- Applied for Disability Living allowance.
The outcomes of this case were
- The Housing Benefit claim was backdated and after arrears were paid he was £500 in credit.
- 3 Years accounts showed nothing to pay and all HMRC charges were dropped, the accountant waived his fee.
- Overpaid National Insurance Contributions were reimbursed.
- A payment protection insurance was discovered that paid off the bank loan.
- British Gas wrote off the debt and moved the meter to somewhere more accessible.
- Disability Living Allowance was awarded
- Two savings accounts which he had no recollection of held enough money to pay off all the utilty debt.
- Claims on ill health insurance resulted in two payments for time spent in hospital
Dennis has a tenancy support worker now who helps him keep on top of things but we still visit from time to time. During the course of working with Dennis we visited him 18 times, we sent and received 60 letters on his behalf, had 18 email exchanges and made and received 86 phone calls.
Thank you for reading this, I appreciate that it is long. I write it not to brag but to try to give a better understanding of what we do, no case is the same, all clients are individuals but I hope this gives a sense of what we are about. If you know someone who may need our help please do not hesitate to contact us.