Zofia came to PBIC in October to look for support as she had been living with no income for 3 months following having her Universal Credit payments stopped in August. At the time, she was on unpaid maternity leave but was still employed and planning to return to her job in December. She was unable to return earlier as she is a single mother and had no one who could support her with childcare at the time. Throughout this time, she was unable to pay rent and was in arrears with her landlord for 2 months (£1600). She struggled to understand why this was happening due to her language barrier.
Throughout the first appointment, we investigated to see why her Universal Credit payments were stopped. She received her last payment in July – when she was still receiving maternity pay. As soon as her employer stopped paying her statutory maternity pay, the Universal credit payments stopped. We believe this was due to Zofia having pre-settled status and having the right to reside as a worker, which was taken away the moment she stopped receiving money from her employer. However, Zofia would have still been entitled to UC as a retained worker for up to 6 months. We logged onto her old UC journal to see if we could appeal their decision but unfortunately, the deadline for appeal had passed.
Following this, we opened a new UC account and reapplied for Universal Credit. We gathered all documents proving Zofia has the right to reside as a retained worker, including payslips, her contract, and confirmation from her employer about her return date to work. After her Habitual Residence Test at the Job Centre, she was awarded Universal Credit and finally had some form of income.
However, she was still in debt with her landlord and was not sure how she was going to pay for this. As the deadline to appeal her Universal Credit claim from August had passed, we decided to apply for a discretionary housing payment and informed her landlord’s agent that we are doing this. Thanks to this, Zofia was not evicted from the property and is now awaiting the decision for the discretionary housing payment to cover the arrears. Zofia was also supported to apply for Social Housing as she was living in a one-bedroom property while being entitled to a three-bedroom property since her son moved in with her. She now has an active social housing application and is bidding for 3-bedroom properties. Thanks to the support she had received, Zofia has a stable income and has returned to work part-time and no longer is stressed about not being able to cover her cost of living. She is extremely grateful for the support received and has a much better understanding of her rights in the UK.
by Zofia, PBIC Project Coordinator