Wow! We have nearly raised £2800! A brilliant week one to the appeal.
As a result of this funding we have been able to extend the contracts of our critical debt advice team.
Our debt team would help provide support to 5,598 issues to provide financial services and build financial capability each year and 3,490 debt issues, so in total, this would impact around 25% of the issues we see and work with at Citizens Advice Bucks. We would anticipate that this would ordinarily help around 3000 people a year. Your help enables this critical service to continue. Here is a story of one of the people we have helped:
Amy* approached Citizens Advice Bucks in May 2021 to request a food voucher. She is a single parent and lives with two dependent children, aged 3 and 16. The 16-year-old is waiting for an ADHD diagnosis. Amy has long term mental health issues and suffers from severe anxiety. She has priority debts of more than £4000, and £3000 of non-priority debts. Amy was struggling to deal with creditors and keep up with repayment plans. She was concerned about rent arrears, with the potential risk of eviction increasing her stress and anxiety. Amy’s employment was impacted by covid which left her reliant on benefits. She previously had a Debt Relief Order from a different organisation however was still struggling with on-going debt issues and financial hardship.
The caseworker contacted Amy’s creditors on her behalf which provided relief to her as she did not have to directly engage with them and helped her focus on her health and family. The caseworker requested creditors to place any recovery action on hold while she received support from Bucks Citizens Advice for debt advice and income maximisation.
Considering Amy’s vulnerability, the Debt Respite Scheme was initiated which provided further protection to her from creditor's enforcement actions especially regarding priority debts.
The benefit check was completed, and a detailed budget prepared for Amy to identify available and suitable debt options. She has been given tailored advice regarding the pros and cons of each debt option.
While the caseworker is progressing debt options with Amy, a discretionary housing payment and discretionary award application has been made to the council to cover the short fall in rent as her Universal Credit housing element does not cover full rent and help towards payments of council tax due to financial hardship. If the award is granted, this would prevent Amy from incurring further rent arrears and meet ongoing council tax liability while she takes further steps to maximise income and improve her circumstances.
The caseworker has also ensured that she receives food parcels and fuel vouchers to help with her immediate situation. Since May 2021, she has so far been assigned food parcels value worth £216.
Amy was supported to set up affordable repayment arrangement towards priority debts that she is up to date with. Paradigm is happy with the repayment arrangement regarding rent arrears and have no further plans to take enforcement action, as outstanding arrears now reduced to £200 from £1352.
The caseworker is working closely with Amy to finalise insolvency options with tailored advice provided to continue with the repayment of rent arrears from the available surplus.
Although Amy is maintaining repayment arrangement with creditors, debt options have been discussed in detail and she feels that the best way to progress is to apply for Bankruptcy with a formal agreement with her landlord to maintain repayment arrangement from surplus income towards rent arrears to prevent enforcement action from her landlord.
Amy has also been advised regarding disability benefit for her son and possibility for her to claim carers allowance and explore limited capability for work and PIP considering her mental health issues.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your support, and please do share the appeal with friends and family too, this really can make the difference on our campaign success.
Head of Development and Communications, Citizens Advice Bucks
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