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London Lives: A Hospice User Loses Patience With Universal Credit

This case study is from St Christopher’s Hospice, one of several hospices in London which we support with a Samaritan grant – enabling them to help people in a crisis with a small, immediate cash payment.

“Despite making it very clear that she is suffering from a life limiting illness, Ms W feels she was offered no help from the Department of Work and Pensions in making a claim for Universal Credit.

She enlisted the help of a Welfare Adviser at the Royal Marsden but was unable to visit the hospital as she was not well enough to use public transport and did not have enough money for a taxi fare. A hospice social worker then assisted her in submitting a claim for Universal Credit.

At that point she had been without benefit for seven weeks and it was clear that she was experiencing financial difficulty.

Ms W was struggling to support her children, was unable to pay rent and had to miss vital hospital appointments as she had insufficient money for taxi fares.

After submitting her claim, the hospice social worker made several attempts to arrange for a visiting officer to meet Ms W to verify her claim. On one occasion, a DWP officer visited but had no knowledge as to the detail of the case and left without taking any action.

After three weeks Ms W did finally receive another visit and it was then that her claim was verified. The first Universal Credit payment arrived almost 12 weeks after her Income Support ended.

The London Catalyst Samaritan Fund was used to provide food for the family at a point when they had been without any income for some time and borrowing money to provide food.”

If you work for a frontline agency within the M25 and you are interested in applying for a Samaritan grant for your organisation to use as a hardship fund, visit our ‘grants’ page for more information.

We actively seek donations to the Samaritan Fund to enable us to help more people in desperate poverty. Any contribution, however small, will make a difference – because the average size of a hardship payment from a Samaritan grant is £16. Find out how to give.

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