“I couldn’t have done it without you” – How calls to Contact’s helpline lead to benefit awards

Monday 26 April 2021

The family finances team on our freephone helpline speak to over a thousand families each year, helping with benefits claims and explaining how to challenge decisions when things have gone wrong.

Making a call to our helpline can mean the difference between getting a benefit award and not. David phoned our helpline when his son, Pablo, 17, was refused Universal Credit on the misapprehension that Pablo was on an accredited education course. David says:

“Due to his learning difficulties Pablo is not on any formal course that leads to any qualification, but learns very basic primary level maths and English as well as basic life skills. This is what I had to make Universal Credit understand as they take it that everyone is on some sort of accredited education, but that is not the case for Pablo. The first response I got from Universal Credit was that he was in education so wasn’t eligible for Universal Credit. They closed his claim and just put an entry on his journal without any notice or informing me in person.

“Taking your advice I challenged the decision asking for a review, saying I wanted to start the process to instigate a Health Assessment, as per your advice, and quoted from your factsheet. Once the Universal Credit supervisor understood the level of Pablo’s education, she told me the claim would be reassessed and that she would contact me again with a decision in a few days. The following week she called me to say that Pablo was eligible and his first payment would be on the date they had said his payments would start when I first made the application. He has since had his first payment, with the Covid increase.

“Without the support and information provided by Contact I would have found this process very daunting. Having the right responses to challenge what was being said made me more confident in knowing what Pablo is entitled to and therefore should be paid. I would advise any parent or carer to follow the advice and don’t accept a refusal from Universal Credit or anywhere else as being how it is. If you know you or your child should get a certain benefit then keep fighting back until you get it.

“Once again thank you for all your support and advice, I really couldn’t have done it without you.”

David and Pablo are just one of the families we’ve helped claim the benefits they’re entitled to. If you think your family could get financial support, take a look at our online advice on benefits and money. You can also use our FAQs tool for answers to the most common questions our helpline is asked about.

And of course you can make a call to our freephone helpline, accessible by email and social media too.