Mr G was recently released from prison (12 days ago), he had a very small amount of money on release but now had nothing. Because he was only serving 12 weeks housing benefit maintained his rent payment, this meant because he had a property to return to the support he was offered was minimal.
On returning home he found his fuel supply had been disconnected. He has a PPM for gas and credit meter for electricity. The electric meter is 9’ high in a communal hall.
Mr G applied for the Stockport Local Assistance Scheme as he had no money, no food and no access to fuel. He had contacted his supplier who required 1 months usage paid upfront before they would re-connect him, this was £65.
A new JSA claim was completed and SLAS provided Mr G with a food voucher and contacted the Affordable Warmth Officer (AWO) to see if this was a valid story, however they cannot give grants of that much and do not cover reconnection charges due to budget restraints. The AWO contacted Eon who confirmed they would need £65, despite explaining the situation and that Mr G was walking to a food bank to get food which he wouldn’t be able to cook. Eon said they were unable to waive the charge or add it to his future usage.
Eon agreed to revisit the property to look at moving the meter to install a PPM, they also confirmed Mr G has fuel debt in excess of £1,000. On speaking to Mr G he was under the impression that the electric was covered by his rent and just didn’t understand that he had to pay it separately, this was partly fused by the fact he has a gas meter and thought he’d have had an electric meter if he was responsible for the costs.
After lengthy conversations, the Affordable Warmth Officer contacted the Community Safety Unit within the Council, not knowing the reason why Mr G had been imprisoned there was concern that he would commit a crime out of sheer desperation. It was agreed that Mr G would be eligible for a Life on the Outside (LOTO) project which would both provide continued support to Mr G and pay the cost of his reconnection, however, understandably this wouldn’t be paid until after a reasonable time of engagement.
In the end the decision was made to pay the reconnection charge from the Strategic Housing budget. It was apparent that the gentleman needed help, to him the £65 may have well have been £6million, either way he couldn’t pay. His immediate need and concern was returning home to a dark, cold property. A meeting was arranged to apply for a trust fund and a referral made to the LOTO project.
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