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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit migration  →  Thread

Severe mental Health and Prison

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National Debtline
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Hi my client was in receipt of ESA prior to being placed on remand when his benefit ceased. He has been released from Prison after being found not guilty. He suffers from Severe Mental Health and struggles to engage, he is being asked to claim UC?

His PIP has been backdated? What is his best option?

Daphne
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Is it contributory ESA? If so it is only suspended while on remand so it should be able to be reinstated.

If it was income-related was there an sdp in his ESA prior to going in to prison in which case how long was he in there. If he was receiving a benefit with an sdp in the last month he is precluded from claiming UC so can reclaim irESA. Or is there HB that remained in payment while in prison with an sdp - that would also mean he could reclaim irESA.

National Debtline
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Hi Daphne he was in receipt of IRESA NO SDP as was previously living with parents and therefore not eligible NO housing costs either.  He suffers complex Mental health issues to include severe ASD.  He will not or cannot engage and is not being supported by Social Services. (Long Story). If we cannot reclaim ESA are their any special measures for UC to accept a claim from a third party (NOT AN APPOINTEE) as his Mother has been abusing his funds?

I have tried the CAB Support Line without success???

Any idea’s? It would be very much appreciated.

Vonny
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What about a corporate appointee

National Debtline
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So far he hasn’t engaged with Solicitors to ascertain capacity? Social Services state he has Capacity! ( Long Story) In terms of a corporate appointee do you mean an organisation such as CAB? My feeling is that he needs a legal appointee for both health and finances?

Vonny
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I’m sorry but the extent my knowledge about corporate appointees ended at ‘what about’

csmk
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Are you able to complete a claim for the client over the phone or refer him to a local CAB or other advice provider in his local area to make a claim? Normally we have the National CAB helpline which will try and connect your client to the local bureau that the call is made from, but sometimes ringing the national line will give you a local bureau miles away. It may be worth contacting the client’s local bureau directly.

Could you not refer the client to a financial advocacy group for ongoing support with the claim and managing benefits?

There’s the National Autistic Society, the Learning Disability Helpline from Mencap for checking advocacy and advice services in the client’s area, Disability Law Service for assistance with community care law and welfare benefits advice, MIND can offer outreach services in some areas, Dudley Advocacy is a charity in the West Midlands as an example of some of the charities that could offer ongoing support (obviously advocacy charities vary in their services and location depending on your client). These are just a few from a quick search.

A lot of local CABs wouldn’t be able to become an appointee for a client, but would help with issues if they arise as a temporary representative, say to write a complaint, dispute, complete a claim or in some limited circumstances represent at FtT. It depends on the services and resources of the local CAB. They may be able to refer your client to a solicitor regarding social care if they have links with local firms.

Jane Urwin
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If he needs help to claim UC could you contact his local Citizens Advice (with his permission) and ask that they assist your client to make a claim?
With the client present they could help him make a digital UC claim or if they assess that the client will not be able to manage an online digital claim (either making the claim or maintaining it) they can call the UC helpline and help him make a non-digital claim.
Local Citizens Advice can be found here (scroll to end of this link) https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/universal-credit/claiming/helptoclaim/

Dan Manville
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This takes me back to the olden days of the Habitual Residence Test; there are strong analogies as while on remand the applicable amount is nil. I recall case law and legislation to reverse it where Judge Rowland found that the “effluxion of time” was sufficient change of circs that after the requisite 3 months had passed; thus HR established, the nil award could be superseded to make a cash award. I wonder whether the amending legislation that reversed that applies to someone with a much more concrete change of circs i.e being found not guilty of a crime, and it might still be sufficient to found a supersession of an award with an Ap Am of nil.

This might be academic and I feel it might take a Judicial Review to budge it but it keeps my mind active while I’m sitting on hold…

[ Edited: 14 Jun 2019 at 10:42 am by Dan Manville ]
National Debtline
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I’ve tried all of the above - he is deemed HIGH RISK - although I think he is misunderstood!

The problem is getting him to engage and his Mother BLOCKS all attempts at getting him help (she too has mental Health issues).

I am at a loss unless a Solicitor will step in and assess for CAPACITY and become his legal ward!

I may find a solution yet!

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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You might find our factsheet helpful in terms of someone else helping him deal with his affairs?

Arranging for someone to make decisions on your behalf

MickD
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There is an ultimate onus on the DWP.

From the Agents and Appointees Guide:

Appointee needed but no one nominated
5300 If a visiting officer decides a customer needs an appointee but no one has been nominated or
we alerted to the possibility by a third party but they do not wish to act, make attempts to identify a
suitable person, e.g.:
• a spouse
• a relative or close friend
• an Organisation, e.g. a LA, Age Concern or
• the proprietor of a CH/NH, but only if no other suitable person is found.
5301 If a suitable person is not available, inform the customer’s local social services – they may know
of Organisations willing to help.
5302 If social services cannot help then as a last resort we will have to contact the OPG - 0300 456
0300. A court appointed deputy may be the only option.

Dan Manville
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Social Services and the OPG will only step in where the claimant lacks capacity to deal with their finances. A person must be allowed to make bad choices where they have capacity and all authorities must presume capacity unless there is evidence confirming it’s lacking. Such authorities must consider whether a person might retain capacity to make an individual decision wwith some support.

What I’m saying is that Mental Capacity is quite a high bar and where Social Services have assessed that he has capacity I doubt a solicitor would go behind that unless there’s been a change of cirumstances.

These situations are frustrating but they do come up; I see a lot of people who fall into that grey area where they are assessed as having capacity but won’t do what’s best for themselves, however the law says we must permit those choices be made and where uncertain we must give capacity the benefit of the doubt.

That said; if there’s no SDP, their material choice (and it is their choice…) is between torturous and uncertain legal proceedings to try and get the ESA reinstated or claiming UC. Once you strip away all the foliage the client is putting in the way the wood is straight and true.

The one issue that’s not been mentioned above is if he were in Specified Accomodation (I note he “previously” lived with parents), in which case he’d need to claim HB, there’s your SDP and ESA is available again.

[ Edited: 14 Jun 2019 at 11:54 am by Dan Manville ]
ClairemHodgson
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National Debtline - 14 June 2019 10:49 AM

I

I am at a loss unless a Solicitor will step in and assess for CAPACITY and become his legal ward!

A solicitor does not do a capacity assessment

a solicitor instructs someone qualified in carrying out capacity assessments to do that, and then (depending on the case) acts accordingly

sometimes a GP can do it (for instance, in an obvious case of dementia) but even then they won’t always, given the mental capacity act.

i think i’d be inclined to ring the PUblic Guardian’s office, and there is also an organisation for indepednent visitors - https://aivuk.org.uk/ - nearly all of whom are CoP visitors and qualified to do capacity assessments (i recently instructed one).

i would also contact his local social services adult services team.  these are the people who will have corporoate appointee departments to assist in such cases, and should also have people capable of doing a capacity assessment.

to return to your point about solicitors - there are firms who specialise in CoP work, and may be able to assist, but of course they normally expect to get paid.  many work nationally

Where is your client?

finally, it seems to me you need to get him out from under is mother, and social services should be able to help with that

does he not have input from the pscyh team?

Dan Manville
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ClairemHodgson - 14 June 2019 12:24 PM

finally, it seems to me you need to get him out from under is mother, and social services should be able to help with that

 

If he’s got capacity and has decided he’s staying under Mum’s wing I wouldn’t be so optimistic about that.

 

ClairemHodgson
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Dan Manville - 14 June 2019 12:29 PM
ClairemHodgson - 14 June 2019 12:24 PM

finally, it seems to me you need to get him out from under is mother, and social services should be able to help with that

 

If he’s got capacity and has decided he’s staying under Mum’s wing I wouldn’t be so optimistic about that.

which begs the question, rather, Dan.  particularly as OP said mother playing ducks and drakes with his benefits….