A local GP contacted Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk about a patient with complex needs, including mental health problems that made it difficult for the client to handle interacting with other people. The client had no income and deteriorating health. Despite a previous referral to social services, the social worker would no longer see the client. Our specialist met the client several times at the GP surgery to start claims for Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and to complete the necessary paperwork.
It was clear to the specialist that the client was very vulnerable so, with the client’s permission, we assisted with the correspondence for the client’s claims. This is not something that we usually do, but it was clear that that this particular client needed extra support. It proved difficult for the client to engage with either the DWP or our team. When the client’s ESA claim was suspended due to lack of engagement it precipitated a crisis. Concerned the client might commit suicide, our team followed safeguarding procedures and contacted the GP. This resulted in a referral to the Multi-Agency Support Hub.
Although other agencies were now involved, they were not able to resolve the problem with the client’s ESA claim that had led to the crisis. Our specialist contacted an ESA Decision Maker to explain the urgency of the situation. If there are exceptional circumstances that put an individual at substantial risk of harm then it’s possible for the Decision Maker to put claim into payment. Due to our specialist’s expertise, he was able to give the DWP the evidence that they needed to see that there was a substantial risk of harm. As a result of this evidence, the client’s ESA was reinstated immediately. Later, our specialist supported the client to have a Work Capability Assessment at home. The client now has a secure source of income and the DWP are aware of the client’s vulnerability. We will continue to offer support.