The importance of a holistic approach
The holistic approach provided by Money Matters has helped a client in multiple areas of her life, not just with her energy debt.
Money Matters has two British Gas Energy Trust funded projects covering Glasgow and South Lanarkshire. They provide support to their clients through a multitude of avenues, including income maximisation, debt relief, money and energy advice, benefit support, personal money management training or education sessions, advocacy and legal advice and mental health support.
In the last few months, Money Matters projects have helped over 400 clients realise income gains of more than £600,000.
Miss E* was referred to Money Matters by a Community Links Worker as she had recently moved into permanent accommodation following a period of homelessness. She had fallen behind on various bills during this period – in particular, her energy bills and her council tax.
At the time of being referred to Money Matters, Miss E was in receipt of Universal Credit, Child Benefit and Scottish Child payment.
She is a single mum to a 3-year-old, and they live together in a two-bed Housing Cooperative home.
She would like to work but is unable to, due to her caring responsibilities and her anxiety. Her young child has very severe eczema and must be constantly observed due to persistent bleeding wounds.
Budgeting advice was given to Miss E by dedicated money and energy advisors. This included financial capability advice, debt recovery actions and their implications for her, and various debt solutions. Miss E was £50 in debt with her energy provider and was self-rationing her energy use, due to her worries about the rising cost of living.
Money Matters made Miss E aware of the Scottish Governments Home Heating Fund and assisted her with engaging with her supplier so that she could get the evidence necessary to apply. She was successful and was able to clear all the debt on her meter.
She was also helped with applying for a council tax reduction, which was backdated and not only reduced her debt significantly but made her ongoing bill more manageable, which she has already started paying.
Due to the severity of Miss E’s anxiety making her unable to work, Money Matters helped her apply for Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity support and discussed the possibility of getting Adult Disability Payment and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
They also identified she could apply for Child Disability Payment as her son needs a significant amount of care for his skin condition.
Although Miss E was not able to get PIP, her claim for Adult Disability Payment through Social Security Scotland was successful, as was her claim for Child Disability Payment, including backdating that payment. This in turn meant she became eligible for Carers Allowance, Carers Element and Carers Allowance Supplement.
This has resulted in Miss E gaining over £7000 per year in additional benefits.
The money and energy advisors were also able to signpost Miss E to additional support available in Scotland. She was introduced to the Thrive Under 5 network, a pilot wherein clients with children under 5 are given practical support to improve their health outcomes.
This includes free membership and free shopping at their local community pantry for 4 months, healthy recipe packs including ingredients delivered to their home for 8 weeks, and financial help to purchase kitchen utensils.
To find out more about money and energy advice available in your local area, please click here.
*Miss E is not her real name.