Scottish weather can be unpredictable. Sometimes it feels as though all four seasons have passed in just a single two hour stall. As it happens, this week’s stall took place on a quite pleasant September afternoon. We were joined this week by a comrade from Glasgow who has moved into the area to do a postgraduate degree. It was good to see him again and have his help on the stall. We were also graced with the presence of Brandy, the King Charles Spaniel, who got huge amounts of attention.
It was reasonably busy again, and we spoke to a number of people. These cases were all standard questions about Universal Credit, which we have covered in previous SUWN blogs ad nauseam. That said, a few quick observations can be made.
If you are struggling to make ends meet, it is always worth checking to see what help is available. Eddie provides case in point. He works part time, and has disabilities. Until he was told otherwise, he was unaware he was eligible for benefits such as PIP. He is now better off, and, importantly, less stressed about money. Eddie’s case illustrates two things. 1. If you are struggling, it can be useful to get a benefits check from a qualified welfare advisor. 2. If you are eligible for a benefit, apply for it.
Roddy told us he was coming to the end of a four month sanction. His original ‘misdemeanour’ was missing a Jobcentre appointment for medical reasons. He had also been refused a Scottish Welfare Fund Crisis Grant, despite not having had one before. We’ve taken up his case, and won’t say much more, as it is still live. But it does underline our advice that if you have been sanctioned, you should put in a Mandatory Reconsideration as soon as possible, and then appeal the decision if this fails.
As its name suggests, the Scottish Welfare Fund Crisis Grant is only available in Scotland, though some English councils have similar Welfare Schemes. To apply for a Crisis Grant you must go through your local council, who make the decisions. If you are refused, you can challenge the decision. You should do so in writing to your local council within 20 working days of the decision, explaining clearly why you think it was unfair. They will arrange for someone new to look at it again. Shelter Scotland’s website has some useful information about Crisis Grants here. They can provide a vital lifeline – and could be even more important if the Scottish Government increased the money available, as we and others have repeatedly called for.
Picture Credit: September Afternoon, Eastern Townships. John Arthur Fraser, (1838 – 1898). National Gallery of Canada