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How do I get benefits?

(41 Posts)
Borisboohoo Sat 13-Jul-13 22:49:27

Long post sorry blush

We are in a dire financial situation at the moment. My DH is out of work (left due to bullying) and I'm a SAHM. He is looking for work but can't claim job seekers allowance for 24 weeks because he handed in his notice and wasn't sacked.

My youngest is only 4 months old and breastfed so whilst it is possible for me to look for work it is not ideal (although I will if this is our only option). We privately rent a 2 bed house for us and 2 kids.

We are currently at the early stages of selling our 1 bed flat (fingers crossed) which sounds like an asset but has been a noose around our necks since we moved out 2 years ago (tenants treated it badly/rent didn't cover mortgage payments). The offer amount will pay off the mortgage but we don't have the cash for the estate agent or solicitor (so trying to sell as many belongings as poss on Gumtree etc). We are selling as the tenants have left and it was so stressful renting to them we really don't want to do it again.

We have no savings and have credit card debt/loan repayments. At this moment we are living off our credit cards sad but know this can't continue.

If my partner was still in work we could cope with the one wage and the flat situation. If we didn't have the flat to deal with we could cope better with my DH's job loss. It's just unfortunate that the tenants left at the same time as he left his job.

I have looked on the gov's website and I think we are entitled to child tax credits but when I did the calculator it said no because of my DH's earnings from the last tax year. There wasn't anywhere to put that those earnings have stopped.

If the flat sale goes through (remember we get NO profit from this, just more debt) then I think we can claim housing benefit and council tax benefit.

My question is (finally!) should i applyby sending off for the forms or should I go to the jobcentre? Would it make more sense to talk to a person or will they just ask for the same info on the forms? I really don't know how this works. I feel like I shouldn't be asking for help as we got ourselves into this situation.

Sorry this is so long. I know we sound like a pair of numpties but it's just a case of things going wrong at the same time. We live so frugally as it is and have zero family support. We'd rather not claim anything but unfortunately not all our bills are payable by credit card and we have only the child benefit as a cash income.

Any help or advice would be gratefully received. TIA.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 13-Jul-13 22:54:45

Hi smile You could do with popping to the CAB and asking them to do a benefit check. A lot of benefits are complicated and it's not wise to put all of your private info on the web for all to see.

Work wise, if your DH was bullied out of his job and had been there for over 12 months he could claim constructive dismissal, which is where the employer has made it impossible for them to stay in the job so they are technically fired rather then resigned. In order for him to do this he needs to start proceedings for constructive dismissal before three months after he left his job. He also needs to tell the employer that he considers himself to be constructively dismissed rather then have resigned.

The CAB will help with all of this.

Borisboohoo Sat 13-Jul-13 22:57:09

Thank you. I didn't think of going to CAB.

taleteller Sat 13-Jul-13 22:58:38

Please go and see CAB asap. I don't know what to advise - am sure you can get tax credits - I think you need to get the form in and submit it quickly and then you will be awarded nil but you then notify of a change of circumstances and they will then take into account of the fall in income BUT this will all take quite a bit of time to process so in the meantime it will be difficult and I guess you will have to fall into arrears on your rent as you must prioritise food etc. But CAB might be able to help advise how the quickest way is to do it. Do the claim as soon as you can as they don't backdate the credits for very long only to the date you put the form in or something like that.
Hope someone else can advise you soon.

Graceparkhill Sat 13-Jul-13 23:04:52

Worst case scenario- could you go back and live in your flat for a while?

Borisboohoo Sat 13-Jul-13 23:18:06

Ha Ha - I would LOVE to live in the flat seeing as how it has all our nicest furniture and belongings in it to look its best. No child clutter, no mess at all !! It is under offer and fingers crossed, will be gone in the next 4-6 weeks (cash buyer). If that all goes tits up we will have to rent it again. It sounds so entitled to be asking about benefits when we own a property but it is really a drain and has only just (by pounds) escaped negative equity. We are incredibly lucky to be renting our house from friends who are able to wait for the rent (we can't possibly pay them AND the mortgage AND the council tax on the flat) but obviously it is accruing.

We were just getting to the light at the end of the tunnel with our debts and were so pleased at how frugal we were and able to survive on one wage. My DH didn't leave work on a whim. This was after 2 years of stress and stress related illness. We could have coped but the tenants leaving tipped us over the edge sad.

I know I'm going on but its such a relief to be blurting out all this. We have been putting our best faces on in real life but we're actually very frightened.

Borisboohoo Sat 13-Jul-13 23:18:49

taleteller thank you for the explanation, that makes sense.

Graceparkhill Sun 14-Jul-13 10:46:18

Would your DH take some legal advice regarding constructive dismissal?
Again the CAB would be the best place to start.

Sorry -see this has already been suggested.

With regards to your debt and living off cards situation you definitely need some proper independent money advice.

A debt adviser would be able to help reschedule and negotiate payments for you.

Borisboohoo Sun 14-Jul-13 18:17:10

I did ask my DH about legal proceedings but he's not keen. I think he's just glad to be out of there and doesn't want anything more to do with the place. It totally sucks though as it was recognised by his workmates and was not just his interpretation of events.

I have found out where my nearest CAB office is, and it is a drop in service so I am going first thing tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed!

We have looked at a variety of debt helpline sites and done quite a lot of their suggestions. Since having children we have totally changed our approach to finances and that's why this is so frustrating - we have been so 'good' in order for one of us to be at home with the girls. We haven't been frittering money away and now have to pay the price. We just keep hitting brick walls eg the mortgage company wouldn't allow us a mortgage holiday whilst we sold the flat because neither of us are in work despite NEVER having missed a payment. Our local council used to allow you 6 months off the council tax if a property was empty but have decided to no longer do this as they don't like properties being empty. We did explain our situation to them but they didn't care. So that's 2 lots of council tax we have to pay each month sad

If the benefits route doesn't work out for us I will contact national debt helpline. It's scary how quickly we have almosthit rock bottom.

Thanks so much for all your suggestions smile

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 14-Jul-13 18:33:25

Legal proceedings will really help as he'll be able to claim benefits as though he was fired (so JSA etc). If you both took out mortgage insurance then this will kick in too so you won't have to worry (you need to check this on your policy though). It really is something that he should think about (and quickly!) as it can help the situation that you're facing now. I can understand him wanting this over, but is it worth digging a bigger hole of stress for yourselves? He only has three months to start legal proceedings so time isn't your friend at the moment.

Best of luck at the CAB. smile

Flibbertyjibbet Sun 14-Jul-13 18:55:49

I think you have to declare at the time you leave, that you consider yourself to have been constructively dismissed. At least that's what I was advised when I was in that situation a few years back.

I was advised you can't just resign and then go back later and say you were constructively dismissed.

Luckily I worked for a good company, it was just my own boss that was an insecure twunt so I went out on a compromise agreement without having to sue for CD.

Regarding tax credits, you can just ring them up (numbers easily available on the HMRC website). Yes they calculate off last year's income but that's because most people stay on the same or similar income from year to year. So a full tax years numbers is their most accurate thing to work from.

What you have to do is register with them first, fill in the forms with last years dtails on - which as you say will make you non-eligible, and then ring them up with a 'change of details' ie that your income has dropped dramatically and they will then work off what you think your estimated earnings will be for this tax year. They will take into account what your husband earned up to when he packed in his job, which I guess was very recently. So that will be 3 months income April to June, and then also any income that your husband will get in this tax year once he finds a job.

How many children do you have? the help with tax credits stops at about £25k for a couple with one child, so if your husband earns more than this during this tax year, you may well have to pay any tax credits back.

Flibbertyjibbet Sun 14-Jul-13 18:57:24

Two kids I think a family can get tax credits up to £35k income?

Also, the working tax credits are lower if neither of you are working, they take working hours into account.

Ring them in the morning, they are very helpful and will be able to give you the correct info.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 14-Jul-13 19:14:41

Fibberty is right but it's best to check. Same as the 12 month qualifying period, some employers will fire staff illegally just before as they think they can get away with it. If they can't get done for constructive dismissal they can get done for something else. Bullying is also against employment rights so it's worth looking into.

Borisboohoo Sun 14-Jul-13 21:34:01

Thank you - lots of great advice. I have no idea if we have mortgage insurance blush, I will definitely check that out.

I will talk to DH again re: constructive dismissal. He did have an exit interview where the bullying was sort of discussed so that might count in his favour.

We have 2 kids and our income was £35k before DH left work so that sounds like we're in with a chance.

The change of circumstances info makes sense. I'd rather be paying back tax credits than scrabbling about for cash. We can't even shop in Aldi at the moment as ours doesn't accept credit cards confused

dancemom Sun 14-Jul-13 21:37:52

You can claim Housing Benefit for your current property even if you own a previous property. If you can show you are attempting to dispose of it and that you are not currently receiving rental income from it then your equity can be calculated and you can still claim. you should contact your local council about it.

Borisboohoo Mon 15-Jul-13 10:56:28

Thanks dancemom - that's really good to know.

Went to CAB office this morning but they didn't have any free slots - I was only there 20 mins after opening time. I'm going to try and phone them but I'm on hold to the tax credits helpline at the mo grin.

Borisboohoo Sat 20-Jul-13 19:00:41

A mini update if anyone is still interested grin. I did the housing benefit application online and have taken supporting evidence to the council offices to back it up (staff were very lovely). The child tax credit form arrived this morning so that's my Saturday night sorted!! Obviously they could say a big fat no but we are feeling much more positive just for being pro active. The flat sale is still progressing but hopefully will be over very soon.

Thanks so much for all the advice - it has helped us more than you probably know thanks.

Babyroobs Mon 22-Jul-13 00:04:55

Glad to read that things seem to be getting a little better for you. As a pp said make sure that if and when Tax credits say no, that you ring them straight up and tell them that your current income is now nothing, they should then be able to adjust things and you will hopefully get a good amount plus hopefully some backpay.

Borisboohoo Mon 22-Jul-13 21:55:34

Thanks Babyroobs. Sold our coffee machine for £50 today too smile.

taleteller Mon 22-Jul-13 22:11:01

Pleased to hear you are feeling more positive and making progress with your claims. Hope it all works out for you.

Borisboohoo Mon 22-Jul-13 22:42:56


dotnet Tue 23-Jul-13 13:14:06

Nice to read all the constructive advice on this thread, and great to see that some of it looks as if it'll bear fruit. Good luck, Borisboohoo - like other posters, I hope this crisis will pass quite quickly and some much needed and merited cash will come your family's way. Fingers crossed and all best wishes.

Borisboohoo Sun 28-Jul-13 16:40:47

Thanks dotnet smile.
Still awaiting news re:housing benefit and tax credits but on the plus side my DH has got a freelance job! Fingers crossed it will lead to a permanent post. Swings and roundabouts though - looks like the flat buyer might be pulling out right at the very end grrrr. Although we feel much more able to cope with that now we are aware of the benefits available to us maybe!.

Borisboohoo Fri 02-Aug-13 11:56:20

Hey dancemom, thank you! We have got the housing benefit which we would never have even applied for without your advice grin.

MissMarplesBloomers Sat 03-Aug-13 17:18:31

BorisBooHoo that's fab news.

Good for your DH finding the job, hope ot leads to lots of work even if not salaried.

Bad news about the flat.....I know you are wanting to sell it but if the sale falls through would you consider renting again?

Just to get some income towards the mortgage, take out all your nice furniture & let it unfurnished?

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