Julie is a Hexagon resident who has been in her property for a number of years. She had often struggled to manage due to long term struggles with her mental health, but usually managed to keep on top of things. However, just before Christmas 2018, her Employment Support Allowance (ESA) stopped suddenly.
This caused two significant problems for Julie. Firstly, the loss of her ESA meant that she was struggling to manage financially on a day to day basis. Secondly, her ESA stopping also meant that her Housing Benefit also stopped. This caused her rent arrears to increase dramatically, and put her at risk of eviction. It was the stopping of Housing Benefit that alerted us to a potential problem, and caused us to contact Julie.
Julie was referred to the financial inclusion team by her revenue officer to try and help resolve the situation (at this stage, the revenue officer was unaware of the reason for the Housing Benefit stopping). Julie’s poor mental health meant that it took some time for the adviser to get Julie to engage with them, but eventually the adviser was able to engage with Julie and establish the reason for the problems.
It turned out that DWP booked an appointment for Julie to attend an ESA medical. She failed to attend this, so a second appointment was booked. When she also failed to attend this, DWP then cancelled Julies ESA claim, which in turn caused the Housing Benefit to stop.
The adviser worked with Julie, and got her housing benefit reinstated from the date of the original cancellation. This substantially reduced the rent arrears, and removed the risk of eviction. He also appealed against the decision to end the ESA claim to an independent tribunal, arguing that Julie’s failure to attend the appointment was actually a result of the mental health condition that caused Julie to need ESA in the first place.
The appeal was successful, with the Judge agreeing that it was unfair for DWP to have stopped Julie’s benefit due to her exhibiting the symptoms of her health condition. Julie’s ESA was re-instated pending a new assessment, and we are currently working with Julie and the DWP to put extra safeguards in place to make sure that she is supported to attend any future appointments.
The net result of the financial inclusion intervention has been that Julie’s home is secured, and she has the income that she needs to live on.
Jason Herbert AIMA (Cert)
Senior Financial Inclusion Adviser
Hexagon Housing Association
Tel : 0208 768 7925
Email : Jherbert@Hexagon.org.uk