Perth Citizens' Advice Bureau
This case is quite a difficult one for the client, but we’re making a positive impact. This client, who’s in her 40s, came to me recently as, unfortunately, she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Previously she had had a very high income. She had debts while she was earning – loans, credit cards, etc. – which were manageable while working, but she had a drastic reduction in her income so she can’t manage them now. Some further debts have also accrued as a result of her having to stop work. Obviously the last thing she wanted to do was worry about debts and money because she was trying to put things in place for her children.
She was the main earner so the household is now suffering material deprivation. She had to go into a hospice a number of times, and certain benefits stop when you go into a hospice or hospital, after a certain period of time. She thankfully got out and they restarted again but it’s very difficult riding the horrible wave of income and uncertainty in a time when she just doesn’t want to have to deal with that.
Part of what we do is making sure that everything is in place. With my client’s permission, I spoke with her oncologist and got medical evidence of her condition. I am now in the process of having all of her debts written off with her creditors.
Although each of the debts is relatively small, she has quite a lot of creditors. So there’s been a lot of negotiating, making sure I get through to the correct departments and providing all of the relevant proof, because they need the documentary evidence so it can be justified at their end.
It’s still an ongoing case but I’m about halfway through and I’ve got about half of her debts written off so far. In the very short term I think we will get the rest of her debts written off because, very sadly, the proof we’re able to provide is fairly compelling. Even low-end creditors such as payday loan companies seem to be open to writing off the debts in full.
What kind of impact has this had on the client’s situation? She said it’s allowing her to enjoy her last few years or months – she doesn’t know exactly how long she has – with one fewer thing to worry about so she can focus on the important things. She’s also more comfortable that she’s not leaving behind a mess for her family as well. Tying up all the loose ends helps her as part of the coping mechanism.
The ESF funding allows me to do this particular type of work. Because of the extra time that Positive Futures gives us, we can go the extra mile, which means being able to do things like liaising with oncologists.
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The Positive Futures programme is part-funded by the European Social Fund, Perth & Kinross Council and The Gannochy Trust.