Many people have found themselves in situations where the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have made a benefits decision that they are unhappy with. This is particularly common for benefits related to disability or ill health. Indeed, recent research for the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute suggests that around four out of five people facing mental health challenges (to give just one example) have been unhappy with a benefits decision but have felt unable to challenge it.
For this reason, the Hexagon Financial Inclusion service represents a small number of residents wishing to take challenge a benefit decision at an independent tribunal. Steve was one such resident. Steve had suffered with mental health problems for a number of years, and had previously been in receipt of the Support Component of Employment Support Allowance (ESA). However, a review of Steve’s benefits saw him found fit for work. This saw both his ESA and Housing Benefit stopped, leaving him without an income and with rapidly increasing rent arrears.
Steve was referred to the financial inclusion team through his revenue officer. The team was able to identify that the decision was likely to have been incorrect. They then helped Steve to ask DWP to look at the decision again, and when they refused to change it, helped him to make an appeal to the Tribunal service. This enabled at least some of his ESA (and his Housing Benefit) to be reinstated on a temporary basis while he waited for the appeal hearing
Once the appeal was launched, the team prepared Steve’s case on his behalf, and also represented him at the appeal hearing itself. The Tribunal found in Steve’s favour. This meant that he was put back in the ESA support group, and his income reinstated at his previous level. He also received a lump sum payment to restore his total income to the level it would have been had DWP made the right decision in the first place.
Steve’s family were delighted with the outcome, and Steve is now able to concentrate on his recovery without the ongoing pressure of being worried about his income.
Jason Herbert AIMA (Cert)
Senior Financial Inclusion Adviser
Hexagon Housing Association
Tel : 0208 768 7925
Email : Jherbert@Hexagon.org.uk