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WOKINGHAM OFFICE CLOSED ALL DAY
Friday 9 November for staff and volunteer training.
1pm OPENING AT WOKINGHAM OFFICE
Closed during the morning for staff and volunteer training on Mon 12 Nov, Tue 13 Nov and Thurs 15 Nov. Open as normal on Wed 14 Nov.
SERVICE RESTRICTION FROM 1st OCTOBER 2018
Please note that from Monday 1st October 2018 we are starting a new contract for our services from Wokingham Borough Council. As a condition of this contract we are only able to provide our services to people that live in or work in Wokingham Borough.
If you come to us and do not fit this criteria then we will signpost you to your local Citizens Advice office. This will not affect clients with ongoing issues.
Some recent case Studies
The client had mental health issues, was receiving Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Reduction (CTR) and had significant debts (including with HMRC). She had started self-employed work and as a result her income based benefits stopped. A benefit check resulted in us helping her with new HB & CTR claims. We considered her income and expenditure and prepared a detailed, realistic financial statement in order to assess all her options. Two were identified; try to get her debts written off on the grounds of long term health issues and bankruptcy. Unfortunately, there was not enough evidence for a write off on health grounds so the client opted for bankruptcy. Whilst the bankruptcy was finalised we negotiated a hold on bailiff action. The bankruptcy completed and she successfully had over £50,000 of debt written off. The client told us that this had a positive effect on her mental health and ability to manage her day to day affairs. She is now able to maintain her self-employment and sustain a regular income.
The client and his wife, both retired, had been receiving Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Reduction (CTR) for a number of years. Their middle-aged son lived with them. Following a review the council discovered that the son, who had previously been unemployed, had taken a job some years previously.
This led to a benefit overpayment of many thousands of pounds. The client told us that they had little formal education and that they both struggled with reading. Both had great difficulty in understanding the benefit award letters and whenever they received a revised award they would telephone the council to check how much rent they had to pay. Their knowledge of how benefits were calculated was also limited. They did not realise that the change in their son’s employment status, which they had reported, had not been taken into account by the council. We helped the client appeal against the overpayment and a tribunal decided that the client was not liable to pay back the money.
Now that clients no longer have to pay Employment Tribunal fees we find that employers are more prepared to reach negotiated settlements rather than risk a tribunal hearing. This client had worked for a national mobile phone retailer. Nearly a year after resigning, he received a letter stating that he had been over-paid by a total of £3,724. The Company claimed that he was paid for a whole month in error and that he had received sick pay he was not entitled to.
The Client was now out of work and was unable re-pay this amount. Following a detailed review of all his information and payslips by our Employment Specialist it became clear that the calculation was suspect. The specialist also felt that with a delay of a year there were grounds for disputing the validity of their claim. It was also apparent that the Client hadn’t received the correct notice pay on leaving. As a result, a counter claim for £7,200 was made on behalf of the Client. The Company rejected this and continued to seek repayment. We then threatened to escalate to an Employment Tribunal. As a result, the Company dropped its claim for repayment of £3,724 and instead paid the Client a total of £7,000.
Our clients say…
“You are my life saver! Have used you many times, staff very helpful, splendid service!”
“I think you’re brilliant! I’d recommend you to anyone”
“As soon as I walked in I felt looked after. Very professional service”
“I was very stressed, suffering with palpitations and not sleeping. As a result of help given it has totally changed my life. Cannot praise staff highly enough, everyone was really friendly, even receptionist. Superb, wanted to make donation”
“Help and advice has lifted a weight from my shoulders. Advice has given me clarity, thank you”.