If you're in receipt of Universal Credit and affected by the 'bedroom tax', we're here to help
Curo resident Wendy (pictured, above right) describes how Curo’s Passport to Housing service helped her to take back control of her finances and find her perfect home.
I was living in a three bedroom house in Bath with my son and daughter, but when my son moved out I was left affected by the ‘bedroom tax’.
I became ill and was off work on long-term sick receiving Statutory Sick Pay. This caused me real financial difficultly as I’ve always worked and always managed my outgoings.
I’ve never had to claim benefits before and wasn’t aware I’d be entitled to anything, so for a long time I continued to struggle and fell behind with my bills.
I buried my head in the sand, feeling very low and depressed.
I didn’t know where to turn.
It got to the point where I considered taking my own life; I avoided going out and became a prisoner in my own home. I felt so worthless.
Finally I made contact with Curo which was a really hard call to make because I was feeling so anxious. I was reassured immediately and my Account Manager came to my home and talked to me about my options. She recommended Curo’s Passport to Housing scheme as I’d decided to downsize my home.
When I first met Debbie (pictured, above left) from Passport to Housing I was very fretful and nervous. She put me at ease straight away, was easy to talk to and spoke about what I needed to do to move forward.
Debbie explained about welfare benefits and linked me to a support agency called Reach Floating Support who helped me claim Universal Credit. Debbie also talked to me about sickness benefits and ordered an application form which she helped me complete.
I assumed I wouldn’t be entitled to any support or financial help and that my health wasn’t that bad – I was in denial. I was shocked to be invited for an assessment for sickness benefit and to be told I would receive an enhanced rate.
The benefit was also backdated and the money helped me pay people I owed and pay my rent and other bills. This made me realise how ill I am and that I must prioritise my health, wellbeing and housing.
During the Passport to Housing process Debbie was contactable throughout, whenever I needed her help or support – as was Reach. I was shortlisted for a smaller property but needed financial assistance from the local council with a discretionary housing payment to help with the outstanding bedroom tax before I could move.
Unfortunately that payment couldn’t be granted. This made me feel I had no hope of moving.
I was so upset but Debbie rang me that day and reassured me that everything would be okay, and that better things were around the corner.
After four weeks I was feeling stronger. I started bidding again and was shortlisted for a new-build property. I was over the moon!
Debbie reapplied for the bedroom tax support which was secured from the new year’s budget. I’d been saving towards my rent in advance so I had this to put towards the property on sign up.
The day of the move was one of the best of my life.
My life has turned around. I’m no longer under any pressure to pay my bills, my health has improved and I’m no longer a prisoner in my own home.
I feel like I’ve started living again and now have the confidence to go shopping, get involved in social groups which I didn’t do before… I’m really enjoying life!
I would recommend Passport to Housing to anyone looking to move home. The help and support you get is fantastic. Debbie treated me as a human being, didn’t judge me and went over and above to provide the support I needed.
I’d say to anyone looking to move who is having financial difficulties to just make that phone call to Curo.
It may be difficult but it will be the best decision you ever make. I was so scared I was going to lose my home and just assumed no one would be able to help me. I was wrong. Curo and Reach were brilliant!
I would also say to people: make sure that the property you bid on is the right property, in the right location, at the right time for you. I moved to a new area which at first was a little daunting.
However, I made the best decision making the move and starting a new life for me and my daughter; I haven’t looked back.
Curo also have an Employability Service which my daughter engaged with. The team worked with her to build her confidence and skills for the workplace. She has now chosen a career as a hair technician and is currently training for her qualification at college.
She’s a different person, happy and with renewed self-assurance.
I cannot thank Debbie, Curo and Reach enough for helping me change my life and turn things around at such a difficult time. I know people may be scared and worried, but please contact Curo. You will receive the same support and help as I did.
Passport to Housing has changed my life.