By Maddy Hubbard, Dosh Financial Advocate in the North West
Part two of our Financial Capability week series, you can read part one here.
Dosh has been supporting Ben for a few years, in which time he has massively built his financial capability. When I first met him, Ben was just getting by on his benefits and found money very difficult. Ben agrees “when I first got Dosh support it was really scary to have extra money in my account. I always thought I was going to spend it straight away.”
Since then, Ben has made huge changes in his life and how he feels about money. With help from the Prince’s Trust he found a job which he enjoyed, before leaving work this summer to start on a university course. He said “in regards to university it’s great – I love it. It’s great to get up every morning and do something I really enjoy.” In that time, he’s made big steps in his independence. “I still find it really tempting to have all my money in my account, but I think about what I can get from my money in the long term and that helps me resist.”
“Having support from Dosh helped be become more independent, because before that I needed my mum to control everything so I didn’t spend too much. I really liked that my Dosh advocate was closer to my age so she understood where I was coming from, but she was always professional with me. Knowing it was her supporting me with my money made it seem more personal as well, rather than a company you called up who put you on hold and transferred you through to someone.”
I asked Ben what his tips would be for someone who was in a similar position to him, struggling with money and too scared to be independent. His main tip was simply “get a job and don’t spend it all!”, but when we talked about it more he said that the biggest help had been learning to budget.
“A year of working and not going out has really paid off. I’ve seen people spend lots of money when they start work or get their student loan in. Most people spend hundreds a week on alcohol when they go out. But when people spend so much partying, they are missing out on bigger experiences. The benefits of working hard on budgeting are that this year I can do everything I wanted to do.”
Ben’s hard work has certainly paid off, he is running his own freelance photography business whilst at university and has booked a trip to spend a whole month in Australia. Having got the basics of budgeting sorted, he is dealing with keeping receipts, managing his savings, understanding exchange rates – really complicated areas of money he would have felt overwhelmed by a few years ago.
Dosh supports people with a learning disability who have a wide range in their level of capacity around money. Some, like Ben, are working towards full independence and not needing Dosh support at all any more. Others mark smaller milestones to build their independence, such as recognising different coins or remembering their PIN number.
Whatever the person’s goals, we strongly believe that financial capability is a core part of being able to live a happy, independent life. Tomorrow in part three of our Financial Capability week series, we will tell Lynn’s story of feeling more in control of her money.
Meike Beckford November 16th, 2017
Supporting someone to get the Right to Reside
By Maddy Hubbard, Financial Advocate for Greater Manchester and the North West
James* is a young man with a learning disability that Dosh supports in the South of England. Most of the people Dosh supports have lived in the UK for a long time and are allowed to claim benefits, but James is Spanish and came to live in England four years ago. James had been to school in England, his father was British and his whole life was now based here. Despite this, when we applied for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) we were told that he didn’t have ‘Right to Reside’ and so wasn’t entitled to the benefit.
‘Right to Reside’ is a legal term about whether someone has the right to be in England and claim income-related benefits. It is decided based on if someone has worked in the UK and got ‘Retained Worker Status’. As James is not able to work due to his learning disability, Dosh were told that he was therefore not entitled to the benefit. Without ESA, James had to live on just Housing Benefit and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which was making life very hard for him. James couldn’t afford to live a good life and was getting into debt.
Dosh worked with James’s social worker and his support team to challenge this decision. James’s Financial Advocate sent the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) lots of evidence about James’s learning disability. We explained that he wasn’t able to work, which was why we were applying for ESA, but proved that his father was British and that the UK was his home. The DWP responded saying that before they could look at information about his disability, James needed to pass the Right to Reside test so they couldn’t award him ESA.
James’s Financial Advocate then got in touch with their local Legal Centre and was given free advice by an Immigration Lawyer. The Lawyer explained how Dosh could appeal the decision and the evidence they would need to provide to the courts. This was the first time Dosh had dealt with immigration law and it is very complicated. To put it simply, if James couldn’t get Retained Worker Status himself then we needed to prove that one of his parents was a European worker in the UK and had therefore passed it on to him. It wasn’t enough that his father was British, we had to show that he had lived and worked in Europe before coming back to the UK to work.
Dosh worked closely with James’s father to get the evidence together and make a case to the Department for Work and Pensions. We sent in the appeal and were expecting to have to go to a tribunal, but after only a week we got a letter from the DWP.
Eventually, almost a year after first applying, the DWP agreed that James should get ESA!
The decision means that James will get almost £10,000 as a backpayment of the benefit that he should have had this year and he will now have enough money to live on. His father said
“I can’t thank you enough for all the work and stress you have been through to achieve this. Apart from the fact cited in the letter, it was undoubtedly your incredible perseverance over the last year or so that has impressed the authorities.”
At Dosh, we will always go the extra mile for the people we support, even if it means teaching ourselves immigration law! If you would like support about this or anything else related to your money or benefits then please get in touch to find out how we can support you.
Meike Beckford November 3rd, 2016
Posted In: News and Blogs