Housing Case Study 1
John lives locally with his partner and her teenage son in a three- bed privately rented house costing £1000 a month. They were both working full time initially so were able to manage the monthly rent.
However, following an accident, John was left disabled and unable to return to work, and his partner was diagnosed with a terminal illness so had to stop work to undergo lengthy medical treatment.
These difficult circumstances forced them to rely on state benefits to help with their living costs. Now on a low income, the family was getting into debt with priority bills such as rent and council tax and had other debts which the creditors were harassing them to pay.
John and his partner sought help in confidence from a JHC Support worker. They agreed that the:
Short term goal was to prevent them from getting into further debt and to avoid eviction from their privately rented home.
Long term goal was to address their current debts and move to more permanent, lower cost social housing.
JHC helped John with a benefit-check and continued to support him to apply for eligible benefits to ensure the family was receiving the correct entitlements to sustain their housing needs and living costs. We also helped the family to apply for Discretionary Housing benefit to cover the shortfall in their rent to further help them to avoid further debt.
The couple was referred to a Citizens’ Advice Bureau Debt specialist to address their financial concerns in more detail. They found they were eligible for a debt relief order which helped them budget better on their low income.
The South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) housing team was also informed about John and his partner’s medical conditions which affected their housing needs. As a result, they were moved from Band D to Band B and offered a two-bedroom, privately rented property through the council’s ‘settled home’ scheme.
Housing Case Study 2
Cassandra is a 27 year old lone parent with three children living in Sawston in a SCDC property. She recently sought financial help from us towards her son’s Year 6 school trip. Cassandra stays at home to look after her family and has no help from the children’s father. She receives Income support, Child benefit, Child tax credits, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
After paying all her bills the family isn’t left with much to cover the cost of extras such as school trips.
A confidential financial assessment at JHC showed that Cassandra had rent overpayment from a previous year, and other debts outstanding, totalling just under £15,000. These were causing stress and depression and she didn’t know who to turn to for help.
JHC supported Cassandra to seek Citizens’ Advice Bureau Debt specialist advice to address her outstanding debts; it turned out she was eligible to apply for a Debt Relief Order (DRO).
She was also able to apply for financial help from JHC because she is a Sawston resident. JHC funded both Cassandra’s son’s school trip and the costs of making her DRO application.
Housing Case Study 3
Juliet, age 30, has learning difficulties and is a single parent living in a SCDC property. She had been issued with a repossession notice because of rent arrears and was at risk of losing her home. Unfortunately, Juliet has trouble with reading and writing so had been ignoring correspondence from the council.
Juliet works 10 hours a week and receives Job Seekers’ Allowance, Child Tax Credits, Child Benefit and a full award of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.
She arranged to see a JHC Support worker for help with a grant for washing machine and, following a complete financial assessment, her rent arrears were brought to our attention.
We worked with Juliet, getting in touch with SCDC’s rent officers to organise a repayment plan, so she could clear her outstanding rent arrears. We also got a detailed report on the reasons behind her rent arrears with the council, which occurred during the weeks that she failed to attend sign-on appointments at the jobcentre. As a result Juliet had lost her Job Seekers’ Allowance.
JHC wrote a supporting letter to SCDC explaining Juliet’s circumstances for missing the sign-on appointments due to ill health.
In response, SCDC backdated her Housing Benefit payments and Juliet was left with small rent arrears to clear. She was also offered long-term tenancy sustainment support with regular appointments to help prevent a similar housing crisis in future and enable her to remain debt-free.