How MAT made me smile again

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My Background

The day I walked through the doors of the Money Advice Team (MAT) at Aspire Housing was the day my life changed for the better.

In the weeks and months before, my life had been falling apart. My ex-partner had become physically abusive, and two of my three children had been removed. I worked 12 hours a week on a zero hours contract and was also receiving tax credits, housing benefit and child benefit, however, I wasn’t making ends meet.

Looking at my under-occupancy housing situation, MAT referred me for tenancy support and helped me register onto HomesHunt and HomesDirect to get me into more suitable accommodation.

They applied for a Debt Relief Order grant from the Heinz, Anna and Carol Kroch Foundation charity and applied to Seven Trent’s Big Difference Scheme to reduce my water bills going forward.

It felt great to know I had MAT to talk to and share my problems with and even better that they were helping me take so many positive steps to improving my situation

 

My problem

When the children were removed I continued to get tax credits, housing benefit and child benefit payments I wasn’t entitled to – the overpayments I’d received had built up to over £3,000.

On top of that, I’d never paid a water bill and I had other debts that were growing bigger by the day, including some unnecessary direct debits. I was out of my depth and desperately needed help. Thankfully I found the strength, courage and common sense to talk to MAT.

How MAT helped me

From the moment I sat down with MAT I felt a weight lifted. Together we went through every single one of my debts, laid out all my outgoings and discussed my options.

MAT issued me with food vouchers, which was an immediate help. They advised me to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments and helped me put in a claim for Job Seekers Allowance. They also helped me put in a request for hardship payments in tax credits.

With MAT’s assistance I applied to Experian for my credit file and then they wrote to all my creditors to try and reduce my debt and improve my repayment terms.

My outcome

Good news started coming through very quickly.

My Discretionary Housing Payment application was successful, which covered my bedroom tax and gave me a Council Tax hardship payment. My claim for Job Seekers Allowance was approved, which topped up my wages and then I heard that Tax Credits were also going to be put back into my pay. The good news kept coming.

The Heinz, Carol and Anna Kroch Foundation came through for me with the fee for a Debt Relief Order which enabled me to clear my debts, and success with my application for the Seven Trent Big Difference Scheme meant that my future water bills would be reduced by 90%.

MAT then negotiated with my Rent Officer for me to move into a more appropriate sized house and also to put in place an affordable repayment plan for my arrears, which I’m maintaining and that’s a great feeling.

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