English Not First Language

From Big Local Works South Bermondsey:

Ms S came to see me three months ago, she was sign posted to me by a Community Family Worker at Bermondsey and Rotherhithe Locality Children’s Centres.

Ms S is a mother to 2 young children under the age of 3. English is not her first language and struggles with reading and writing. It is extremely difficult for Ms S to understand the terms and process of Universal Credit without support. Her Universal Credit account was set up for her by a Southwark Council worker in 2016.

She went to withdraw money from a cash machine and saw that her Universal Credit Payment failed to go through. She telephoned to explain her situation and was unaware why no payment had been made.

I asked Ms S to bring in all her documents relating to her Universal Credit Claim and I would look in to this matter with her permission. She attended my office and we were able to find her login details that were written down on a brown envelop. It was the uniqueness of this username and password that made me think these were her Universal Credit login details.

Once we gained entry, it was apparent that Universal Credit had been trying to contact Ms S without success. Ms S had not received any other correspondence from Universal Credit and was not made aware in the early days when her claim started that she needed to check her Universal Credit Journal frequently.

Ms S had therefore been sanctioned and her claim was no longer active and to reactivate her claim she would need to fill in a new application and fulfil new claim commitments. I spoke to someone at Universal Credit using the 0800 number, they were very apologetic and explained that a case manager should have contacted Ms S by letter as this should have sounded alarm bells when they were unable to make contact via the journal. Following on from this, I helped Ms with a mandatory reconsideration as she was now in rent arrears and this was successful.

Ms S now attends Big Local Works regularly for help and support with Universal Credit.