One of the most satisfying thing about working for The Well is being able to help people who are in real financial hardship to access money that they are entitled to but would struggle to access without support. This can be in the form of benefits, tax rebates or even just refunds for faulty products!
Yesterday a worried couple came into The Well having bought a pair of prescription glasses. They had been told they wouldn’t have to pay for these due to their low joint income and the fact they received child tax credit. However, they then received a penalty notice saying that because they hadn’t paid they now owed the amount for the glass plus an additional £100 and it would go up a further £50 if they didn’t pay within 14 days unless they could provide proof that they are exempt.
The couple were really worried as this was too much for them to afford, but they didn’t have a Tax Credit Exemption Certificate as evidence. We initially thought they would have to pay it, apply for a Tax Credit Exemption Certificate and then try and get a refund once they received it, putting them under financial strain this month. However, navigating the website to find the correct contact number and providing their National Insurance number led us to discover that they in fact ‘had’ a certificate – it had just never been sent to them. We were able to quote the certificate number as evidence and they didn’t have to pay anything.
This was a difficult process even for people who knew the system and spoke fluent English as the letter and website all indicated that they would have to pay the penalty notice. The relief on the couple’s faces and their gratitude showed that they would have been unable to sort this out for themselves.
The Well is beginning to record all such financial gains to evidence the difference we are making to the lives of people in Govanhill who are facing financial hardship. We are keen to see what the annual figure will be!