February 2020 – Debt, housing and relationship crisis

Posted: 11th February 2020

Our client first contacted us when she had to leave the family home with her baby due to domestic violence.  Our Advisers helped her with advice on family law, sorted out her housing and ensured that her ex-partner could not access her financial information.  Our client’s ex-partner had broken her phone and she had difficulty accessing a computer while she was sleeping on a family member’s sofa.  Citizens Advice were able to help her with the administrative tasks that were difficult for her to do in the circumstances.  Fortunately, the client was offered a home that was suitable for herself and her young child.

When the client’s maternity leave finished, she returned to Citizens Advice for help with her finances.  Although the client hoped to return to full-time work, this proved impossible as there was no-one to look after her young child.  She had accepted a zero-hours contract with her employer so that she could work when she had childcare.  During her previous relationship, the client had agreed to a loan of £7,000 being taken out in her sole name, and the repayments were a struggle.  The Universal Credit that she received did not cover her rent completely, so she was forced to use her income to top up her rent.  If our client had not received debt advice at this point her tenancy would have been at risk.  If she had been forced to pay the debt then she would not have been able to afford her rent.

The client was given a debt pack to complete with all the relevant information about her finances.  The client’s only income went into an account with the same bank that held the main debt.  The client was advised to open an account elsewhere because if the bank had taken her income to pay the loan she would have been destitute.  Since the client had no spare income to repay her debt it was not possible to offer a voluntary arrangement to creditors.  The Money Adviser, therefore, recommended a Debt Relief Order.  The Debt Relief Order would freeze the client’s debts for 12 months and then, if her financial situation did not improve, her debts would be written off.  After the DRO was signed off our Adviser had to offer support on a few occasions because the bank passed the debt to an agency, despite it being covered by the DRO.  Our Money Adviser will continue to offer support until the DRO ends.

With her debt sorted out, the client is now able to cover her living costs and we have helped her to avoid a crisis and possible eviction.  She can focus on her child and finding sustainable work.

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