Financial inclusion support eases woman’s mental health problems
Recent statistics show that 23% of Wales’ population, 700,000 people, are struggling to make ends meet). Poverty cannot be eradicated if essentials like housing, food and energy are unaffordable for people on low and modest incomes. The Welsh Government has made significant progress towards meeting the needs of people with complex needs, including action on homelessness. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Bevan Foundation suggest that governments work with private landlords to improve conditions and affordability in the private rented sector. This is something we do at the Wales Co-operative Centre, in our ‘Your Money, Your Home’ project.
As part of our current Tackling Poverty Fortnight campaign, we’re sharing examples of our work and how it helps to reduce poverty and improve people’s life chances. ‘Your Money, Your Home’ (YMYH) provides advice and guidance to Private Rented Sector (PRS) tenants in Wales, and prepares people for the introduction of Universal Credit.
One person to benefit from this support is a woman, that we’ve called Mrs. Meredith, who is a tenant in the PRS in Newport.
Following a telephone call to YMYH it was decided to visit the lady, as she was quite anxious having been made aware of forthcoming changes with Universal Credit. She was also aware that her current Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) was due to end and she would be unable to afford her top up on her rent.
A home visit was carried out and the tenant revealed that she had to move into her current property as a safety measure, as her young daughter had been attacked on the previous housing estate, suffered a breakdown and went into care. The tenant herself suffers from both poor physical and mental health and although the property is not specially adapted for her needs, she manages as she does not want to move and feels safe in her home. It is also within reach of the care home at which her teenage daughter resides.
Having explained all the changes with Universal Credit and carrying out an income and expenditure form, it came to light that the tenant was spending a large proportion of her income on taxi fares, as this was the only way she could get around owing to her physical disability, as she was unable to drive. The tenant did have a bank account and was using Direct Debits to pay bills, but was also receiving support in managing her money from family members.
Following the involvement of YMYH, a further application was made for a DHP, which was awarded by the local authority for a further 6 months to relieve any potential pressure. Mrs Meredith will continue to look at her spending over a month; as she said ‘it is only when you see things written down, that you realise where your money goes, it is really helpful to see what I spend over a month’.
 Department for Work and Pensions (2016) Households Below Average Income, 2014/15 Table 3.17ts