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Client story: no support... until I went to the CAB

Cath had been on long term incapacity benefit due to mental health issues relating to trauma in early years of her life. She was called to attend a Work Capability Assessment and received a letter to advise that she did not meet the criteria for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). She then received a letter to advise her that her Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit had been suspended due to her benefit being cancelled. Cath also received a summary warrant as she had not maintained her year’s water and sewage charges. She had agreed to pay the sum of £56.00 over four months to bring the account up to date. But as her income level had reduced due to loss of benefits Cath was concerned about breaking this arrangement. When she visited her local CAB for advice, she was very upset and felt she was struggling as she did not understand the systems she was in.

Her CAB adviser explained the transition from incapacity benefit to ESA and the criteria to meet the conditions for ESA and why her claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit would be affected. The adviser explained that Cath could appeal this decision, in which case her Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit would be re-instated. The CAB contacted the Council regarding her council tax arrears to advise that the arrangement she made to pay £56.00 over next four months would not be possible due to her reduction in income. The adviser also started negotiations on Cath’s behalf with the sheriff officers about the debt collection and summary warrant.

The adviser also discussed with Cath her ability to work. Cath said she would like to be able to move towards employment but felt she required support to ease herself back into the work environment where she could gain some skills and knowledge, confidence and self-esteem. Cath was referred to a specialist adviser to discuss her options and enable her to learn more about personal skills and qualities, motivation, goal setting, boost confidence and managing her stress and anxiety which will enable her to progress towards possible education, training and employment opportunities.

Cath was happy with this arrangement and thanked the CAB for their time, help and assistance as she felt that up to that point nobody had offered her support and options before due to her health background.

25 Apr 2013