Posts Tagged ‘Debt’

Debt and welfare advice with ‘BetterOff Salford’

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Changes in national welfare policy will this month will see the gradual transition of some Salford benefit claimants over to the new Universal Credit (UC) system.

In an effort to demystify UC and the general work and benefits landscape in Salford, the council have developed a new website, ‘BetterOff Salford’. The site aims to help people in Salford make sense of their benefits; understanding what they are entitled to and answering questions around conditionality, budgeting and signposting to advice services.

If you are a Salford resident that is unsure about your benefit eligibility, or would like some help trying to get a job, we suggest first taking a look at the BetterOff Salford website, where a wealth of useful information is all in one place. On the site you will find guidance on:

  • Universal Credit
  • Calculating benefits entitlements
  • Applying for benefits
  • Appealing decisions
  • Recording job search activity
  • Finding work
  • Interviews and CV building
  • Debt advice and personal budgeting

This site has been designed to be used without the need for additional help, but there are some people who may need extra support and assistance. Please contact the council directly if you:

  • are being forced to leave your home
  • are awaiting trial for a criminal conviction
  • have complex learning difficulties
  • have any difficulties with reading and writing
  • are a young person in care or are about to leave care

Visit BetterOff Salford here: https://salford.betteroff.org.uk/#/home

 

 

Mind in Salford team up with local business to help struggling client overcome housing difficulties

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

When experiencing a period of poor mental health, sometimes managing a home can become overwhelming, especially when under severe financial pressure.

Mind in Salford’s welfare rights and debt advice team work regularly with individuals who are experiencing problems with money and mental health, helping them to manage debt, understand their welfare rights and explore avenues to help ease financial strain. Advice team member, Lisa, recently started working with a struggling client, Gemma, who was at risk of having her three young children removed by social services due to an excessive hoarding habit – a common symptom of many mental health problems such as OCD and depression.

Wanting to make a settled life for her and her children following a period in an abusive relationship, but with no money to begin clearing the house, Gemma found her situation worsening. An enduring period of depression and anxiety was further exacerbated when she received a sanction on her Universal Credit allowance, which came after her mental health condition forced her to cancel a meeting with a work coach at her local Jobcentre Plus.

 

“Mental health problems can make it extremely difficult to attend appointments and meet other welfare criteria, meaning that those suffering are often issued with sanctions. Claimants are then left with an even more restricted ability to engage with services, therefore reducing their income, aggravating money problems and increasing the risk of worsened mental health or homelessness.” Brick by Brick Report – Housing and Mental Health in Salford – Mind in Salford

 

Things started to look up when social services agreed to provide Gemma with a skip, so that she could start the process of clearing her home – a vitally important step towards regaining some stability and keeping her children. Unfortunately, the offer was withdrawn, and with no support from her landlords (a well-known local housing association) the prospect of resolving her problem seemed increasingly unlikely.

 

Typically, registered council providers such as housing associations have a duty to cooperate on matters of tenant safeguarding (such as support for with mental health problems) yet the association did not provide a skip as allegedly they deemed Gemma’s situation to be self-inflicted. 

 

Salford has the highest proportion of social renters in the country, with 35.29% of households renting from one of the city’s registered social housing providers. Source: ONS (2016)

Lisa reached out to Worsley-based company, Kenny Waste Management, who after hearing Gemma’s story kindly agreed to provide a skip free of charge. Subsequently, her friends and neighbours helped her clear her home, thereby kick-starting the process of overcoming her hoarding, providing a safe home for her children and regaining control of her life. What’s more, United Utilities Trust Fund cleared the water bill of over £3,000 that Gemma had accrued when she was without her Universal Credit entitlement, and replaced her cooker through their white goods grant.

 

 

 

We would like to say a big thank you to Kenny Waste Management Ltd, for making this incredible gesture of good will by donating their time and resources to help our client, and also to United Utilities Trust Fund for allowing Gemma the debt relief she so desperately needed.

 

“It’s great that organisations and local businesses can come together to assist local people in need.” – Lisa White, Advice Team, Mind in Salford.

 

We are pleased that with the help of our advice service, Gemma has restored some stability to her life and can begin planning for her and her children’s future. However, stories like Gemma’s are all too common, and highlight the need for improved mental health support for social housing tenants. We are therefore calling on housing associations in the Salford area to demonstrate their commitment to supporting tenant mental wellbeing, and ensure that staff know how and where to signpost and individual should they be struggling.

If you would like to find out more about some the housing an welfare issues raised in Gemma’s story, view our Brick by Brick Campaign page, where you can read our analysis and find out how to get involved.

Debt, loan sharks and the impact on mental health

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

In the 21st century, the costs of modern living are abundant and ever-growing. Juggling life’s outgoings can be a tricky task for anyone, and financial struggles are a common occurrence not only in Salford, but nationwide.

One particular problem in the UK is the growing threat of loan sharks i.e. people that offer illegitimate, illegal loans. Typically, loan sharks will agree to lend money without any official paperwork or terms, leaving borrowers susceptible to dramatic increases in interest rates, which they are unable to repay. Loan sharks often use the threat of violence and blackmail to coerce victims in to keeping quiet and agreeing to their terms of repayment. Often but unjustly, loan shark criminals go unreported.

It is widely understood that debt and mental health are symbiotic. Research has revealed that 1 in 2 British adults with debt problems has mental health issues, and 1 in 4 British people with mental health conditions also have a debt problem (HCE Group, 2017). For those entrapped in agreements with loan sharks, the repercussions for their mental health can be severe. The stress, anxiety and fear instilled by growing costs and persistent threats enough to bring on a period of mental ill-health, or intensify someone’s existing conditions.

 

Stress, anxiety and mental health repercussions caused by loan sharks and debt

 

To clamp down on the prevalence of loan sharks, a new campaign designed to encourage victims to come forward and report loan sharks was launched this month. The ‘Why I Borrowed’ campaign, started by The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), aims to expose loan sharking as a crime, tell real life stories of those who have been affected, and help people to free themselves from the illegal entrapment of loan sharks.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 328 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £72.5 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 27,500 people.

 

 

 

As the ‘Why I Borrowed’ campaign has highlighted, involvement with loan sharks can have a particularly hostile impact on mental wellbeing; a recent study by IMLT revealed that over 60% of borrowers said they were in a state of worry, stress, depression or severe anxiety because of their involvement with a loan shark. This said, poor mental health as a result of financial strain can manifest itself in many ways.

Here at Mind in Salford, we offer advice to those struggling with debt, as we recognise that tackling such problems alone can be overwhelming and potentially detrimental to mental health. We offer one-to-one, confidential support; helping clients gain perspective by looking in to their rights, and developing a plan for the future. Recently, our team have assisted a client with extensive debts to recoup thousands through recovering mis-sold PPI, and challenging a ruling on the client’s benefits allowance. As a result, our team secured thousands for the individual – a truly transformative amount – enabling the client repay their debts and regain control of their life once again.

If you’ve got money troubles, it’s important not to feel embarrassed about seeking help, because it really could happen to anyone. Our debt and welfare advice services revitalise many people’s ability to plan for the future – a freedom that should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their background, income or mental health.

GETTING HELP

  • If you live in Salford and have a mental health condition that as been either intensified or brought on by debt, click here to visit our advice page, where you can find out more about the debt, welfare and benefits advice we offer. Here you will also find a downloadable referral form.
  • If you or someone you know are being affected by loan sharks, visit stoploansharks.co.uk or call the hotline on 0300 555 2222 to report a shark.

Advisor Vacancy

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Welfare Rights & Debt Advisor

This position has now been filled.

Contract: Fixed term contract (6 months maternity cover with possible extension)
Hours: Part time 28 hours per week
Line Manager: Advice Service Manager
Locations: The Angel Centre, M3 6FA and outreach throughout Salford
Closing date for applications: Thursday 16 April
Interviews in week beginning 20 April 2015

Our Welfare Rights and Debt Advice service has a track record of providing excellent advice in Salford and we need a new person to join us in this challenging and rewarding work.

If you are intelligent and understanding of the needs of people with mental health difficulties, committed to supporting and promoting their rights and have excellent written and verbal skills, then we would like to hear from you.

This job works with vulnerable adults and requires an enhanced disclosure under the Disclosure and Barring Service checks of criminal background.

We also require at least 1 years experience in welfare rights and debt advice, and references will be requested.

Job Description and Person Specification

Please return Advisor Application Form and Equal Opportunities Form by e-mail to markus@mindinsalford.org.uk.

Please note: We will not read or accept CVs in the application process under any circumstances.