Welfare and Material Aid
Benefits advice and support has continued throughout lockdown. Our benefits advisor Sharon Deverdie is no longer able to conduct face to face interviews with the people we support, the work has adapted and continued remotely. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has in many cases extended the times for benefit claims and appeals. As the DWP has not been opened to the public and has streamlined their assessment procedure, any new claims or re-assessments are on three-way telephone calls. This has worked well as Sharon and the beneficiary have copies of application forms (which were completed pre-Covid); waiting lists are 6-12 months depending on the type of benefit application. As the assessment is over the phone we are able to remind and prompt the beneficiary if they are having difficulties with the format.
We can also speak up for them and on their behalf. At the end of the interview, Sharon is able to elaborate on her written testimony from the form and also because often time has elapsed it is an opportunity to emphasise the urgent need for the benefit to be awarded. In her role as a benefits advisor, Sharon has assisted the individual to make successful claims and many of her clients have been awarded back pay because of the time it has taken to get through the process.
As well as benefit applications and appeals, Sharon negotiates on behalf of the beneficiaries with the utility companies, or the housing office; she has successfully negotiated reduced payments, and where appropriate, quashed arrears.
If you would like support with benefits advice, please contact Sharon Deverdie on SharonD@wearenugent.org or 07795960394.