Laura and Mark’s Council Tax Arrears

“Money was not stretching as far as it previously had”

Laura* was unable to work due to longstanding problems with her mental health and her partner Mark* had recently had a reduction in hours at work. With two young children things were difficult and the couple were finding money was not stretching as far as it previously had. Mark had been struggling to repay some credit cards and loans which had been taken out when he was on a higher income.

Following Mark’s reduction in income they missed several payments on their Council Tax bill. The couple contacted one of our advice agencies after receiving a letter from an Enforcement Agent (bailiff).

The adviser was able to complete an assessment of the couple’s situation, identifying the priority areas of advice needed. Laura and Mark were given guidance on what a bailiff can and can’t do so they knew what their rights were in the event of a visit. Laura was finding the situation very stressful and found it was exacerbating her mental health issues. The adviser agreed to contact the Council and bailiffs on the couple’s behalf to set up a payment arrangement.

In order to ensure any payment arrangement would be affordable the adviser completed a detailed income and expenditure assessment (financial statement). This highlighted other areas of assistance needed. The couple had thought they were making ends meet but the adviser established they were only able to do this with use of local foodbanks. They also had large deductions coming from their benefits and were struggling to make payments towards their gas and electricity.

With help from our adviser, Laura and Mark were able to prevent a bailiff visit and set up an affordable payment arrangement with the Council. The debt was taken back from the bailiff firm when Laura’s vulnerabilities were highlighted to the Council. They were also able to reduce their outgoings by lowering their other payment arrangements and, with assistance, made applications to appropriate social tariffs to help with their ongoing household bills.

The adviser was also able to refer Laura and Mark for specialist assistance with a housing issue and support with making additional benefit claims. 

*Both names have been changed for confidentiality purposes.

Vinita’s Breathing Space

Vinita* was caring for her husband Yusuf* who had been diagnosed with Parkinsons. Vinita herself was experiencing problems with her mental health but was managing the household budget well.

Both were pensioners and were in receipt of State Pension and a couple of private pensions. Vinita was also receiving Carers Allowance.

Unfortunately, they had been victims of a sophisticated scam which involved the couple’s emails being hacked. The scammers used a number of complex manipulation tactics to confuse and distress the couple into transferring significant sums of money. The couple had initially contacted a ‘no win no fee’ company for help disputing liability but were finding them of no help.

After a full appointment with one of our specialist debt advisers Vinita and Yusef were put into a debt respite scheme (Breathing Space) to allow them the time and space they needed to get the evidence together required to dispute the debts.

Full advice was provided on the options available to them and assistance provided with contacting both Action Fraud and Trading Standards.

In consideration of the household vulnerabilities the adviser was able to act on the couple’s behalf helping to limit the level of distress. Vinita and Yusef’s dispute was ultimately successful with the adviser working in calibration with the banks, Trading Standards and Action Fraud.

*Both names have been changed for confidentiality purposes.

“Vinita herself was experiencing problems with her mental health”

Ibukun’s Emergency Situation

“She felt pressurised by the bailiffs to make payments she was unable to afford”

Ibukun* contacted one of our advice organisations after being threatened with a visit from an Enforcement Agent (bailiff) following non-payment of a train ticket. After the ticket had remained unpaid the debt had been passed to the Magistrates Court for enforcement.

The situation was causing Ibukun a great deal of distress. She had several serious health conditions and felt pressurised by the bailiffs to make payments she was unable to afford.

After contacting one of our advice agencies they were able to offer Ibukun an emergency appointment. During the appointment the adviser completed an income and expenditure assessment (financial statement) which showed that the payments the bailiffs were asking for were unaffordable.

During the appointment the adviser also established that Ibukun also had a second Magistrates Court Fine which was being deducted from her benefits. The adviser contacted the Magistrates Court to explain Ibukun’s situation. They agreed to recall the debt from the bailiffs and arranged to set up consecutive deductions from her benefits instead. Alongside this they also remitted the bailiff fees allowing Ibukun the opportunity to pay back the debt she owed as an affordable rate.

Once the emergency situation had been resolved the adviser was able to assist Ibukun in other areas, providing a full comprehensive debt advice appointment. Ultimately Ibukun chose to proceed with a Debt Relief Order (DRO). Whilst this did not clear the Magistrates Court Fines, it did help with her other debts and stabilise her overall situation.

*Name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.

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