We are part of a joint project with Citizens Advice Bath & NE Somerset, advising clients on complex benefit problems. Our clients are advised by our own appeals caseworker and a large team of volunteers at Citizens Advice. As a team, we help clients to:
- Identify what benefits they can claim
- Maximise income via better off calculations
- Fill in benefit forms
- Challenge decisions
- Negotiate with DWP, inc Job Centre
- Appeal decisions
- Appeal decisions, including:
- A legal submissions
- evidence gathering
- For our appeal clients we also:
- maximise income
- negotiate with DWP, inc Job Centre
We also work with organisations locally and nationally to improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives.
Unfortunately, due to the high demand for our service and the complex nature of the work, our caseworker does not take outside referrals. All referrals are taken by Citizens Advice. If you need help with your benefits, you should contact Citizens Advice directly.
Please let Citizens Advice about any additional needs you have (e.g. mental health) so they can help you in the best possible way. Details of their service times throughout Bath & NE Somerset can be found on their website:
S. has multiple health conditions including psychiatric disorders and Personality Disorder.
Benefit: Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
S was acutely vulnerable at the time she contacted us for help with her PIP application. The NHS had supplied no talking therapy and she wanted the money to pay for this privately. We helped her apply for benefit, negotiate with the health assessor and challenge the decision through every stage to tribunal, a process that took 9 months. The DWP awarded insufficient points to pay any benefit, but with our support the tribunal gave her 15 points for Daily Living and 12 points for mobility, or the enhanced rate of both components totalling £145 per week for three years.
I needed help applying for PIP. Applying for benefits on my own is really stressful, so it was really helpful to have [an adviser] who understands the system. I just asked for help with the application form, but you helped me a lot more than I had expected.
In [other services] you get a lot of “take these tablets, you’re young, this is a phase”, but your adviser took my mental illness seriously. He treated me like a human being rather than a number on a bit of paper.
Service user, S
R. has severe anxiety and depression.
Benefit: Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
R rarely leaves home because of her debilitating anxiety and, when she contacted us, she was having frequent thoughts of ending her life. In her ESA assessment, the DWP said she could attend training at the Job Centre, even though they agreed she couldn’t attend a workplace due to the severity of her mental illness. We advised our client over the phone and ensured she had someone to take with her to her appeal hearing. With our support, PC was placed in the support group, increasing her benefit and ensuring she does not have to attend the Job Centre or face the fear of sanctions on her benefit.
The advice was all very reassuring. It inspired me to take it forward with the appeal or I would have given up. I wouldn’t have had the head space to fill out the paperwork for the appeal application, let alone the hearing, without your help. This gave me thinking space to decide what was relevant to the appeal.
I just want to thank all the advisers I spoke to for the help and guidance, it set me level and given me time to concentrate on getting better rather than where my money is going to come from. CAB and Bath Mind helped break the wall down that I was facing. I didn’t understand their logic of how someone who is agoraphobic would be able to attend training and why the Health assessor had such influence and power over the assessment and why they ignored the evidence of my health professionals. What’s the point of training to be a psychiatrist if your opinions are disregarded?
Service user, R
I needed help with my daughter’s benefits. Initially your adviser helped us to ask for a mandatory reconsideration. Your adviser encouraged us to then appeal the decision because otherwise her benefits would have stopped permanently. He wrote a submission for the appeal… it was absolutely marvelous, beautifully summed up and objective. In the end, the tribunal couldn’t have been nicer, I cried with relief when it was over.