Here are some of the stories which demonstrate the impact that our organisation and free legal advice has had on our clients.
Mr C contacted our service seeking appeal representation in respect of personal independence payment (PIP). Prior to contacting MLC his appeal had been adjourned twice. Mr C suffers with severe and enduring mental ill health and mental fragility. He struggles to express himself and interact with others and is virtually housebound. He’s been unable to use public transport for several years.
Mr C is experiencing great financial hardship as he is unable to work due to the severity and cumulative effects of his conditions. His utility bills are significantly higher as he is at home all day. His friend tells me he used to be so outgoing and passionate about football and that he is not the same anymore as he sees himself as worthless and a burden on others.
Following a PIP assessment carried out by telephone due to the pandemic. Mr C’s claim was refused, he scored 0 points for all activities of daily living and mobility. Due to the difficulties Mr C has in engaging/trusting others and with his permission we liaised via email with both him and his mental health care coordinator.
Currently appeal hearings are carried out remotely due to the pandemic, however a face-to-face assessment was arranged due to the difficulties Mr C has in expressing himself and making himself understood. On meeting Mr C for the first-time face to face at the hearing, it was extremely apparent how unwell he is. The hearing lasted approximately 1 hour. We were advised the decision would be posted out. And although I'd never met Mr C prior to this, and we may never meet again, I don’t think I could have been more proud.
There are those who may think appeals are about money, they're not they are so much more. It is the knowing and acceptance of your truth being validated. Mr C contacted me several days after the hearing to advise the tribunal panel (Judge, Doctor & Disability Rights Expert) unanimously agreed he met the criteria for the enhanced rate daily living component and standard rate mobility component of PIP for 5 years. As a result of this Mr C also qualifies for the severe disability premium included in his ESA.
Welfare Benefits Stories
C, a refused asylum seeker, was street homeless and destitute when they came to see us. C was in an extremely vulnerable state having lived on the streets for many years, relying solely on the generosity of strangers and the support of local organisations and charities.
C wanted to make an application for leave to remain in the UK based on the fact that they had now lived here for over 20 years. Many of our clients often cannot afford the fees associated with the kinds of applications, C was no different.
We started off by making an application for a fee waiver to the Home Office. If this application was successful, it would mean that C could make a leave to remain application without having to pay the £1048 application fee. The fee waiver was granted.
We then began to gather all evidence that could prove C’s 20+ years in the UK and worked to put together a strong case for why C should be granted leave to remain in the UK. Given C’s age and vulnerabilities, we also pushed for leave to be granted with access to public funds.
From when we first saw C, to making the fee waiver and leave to remain applications, we were able to secure leave to remain in the UK with access to public funds in just over 6 months. Having lawful status in the UK and access to the right support has meant that C is no longer street homeless and destitute.
Julia* contacted us after her landlord issued her with a s21 notice, asking her to vacate the property within two months.
Julia was concerned that her landlord wanted to evict her because of her dog. Julia’s dog was more than just a family pet: he assists Julia to manage her anxiety and helps to reduce the social isolation she experiences because of her poor mental health. Julia had tried to followed the procedure for obtaining consent and had been advised that it was unlikely to be a problem but had not been able to get anything in writing.
After her landlord found out that she had got a dog at the property he told her she would need to either rehome the dog or seek new accommodation. Julia tried to explain to her landlord why her dog was so important to her, but he refused to consider allowing her to keep her dog and instead served her with notice that he wanted her to move out of the flat.
Sam, our trainee housing solicitor, was able to contact the letting agent and make Julia’s case that her dog was an assistance animal. We advised the landlord that we intended to defend the s21 notice on grounds of disability discrimination. We were able to track down who was responsible for providing pet consent for the building and get them to agree in writing that Julia could keep the dog. Once we had obtained pet consent from the building manager the landlord changed his mind and agreed to allow Julia and her dog to stay in the property.
However, when it came to signing a new tenancy agreement the landlord and his agent tried to increase the rent by £50 per month, including a £25 monthly fee for keeping the dog. We again contacted the landlord and raised our concern that this £25 fee could be prohibited under both the Tenant Fees Act and under the Equality Act. Following our intervention, they agreed to drop the £25 fee. We then assisted Julia to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to cover the remaining rent increase to ensure she could continue to afford to stay in her home.
With the assistance of Merseyside Law Centre, Julia was able to convince her landlord not to proceed with the eviction and now has a minimum of 12 more months at her flat, at a rent she is still able to afford. Most importantly Julia has been able to keep her dog, knowing that she can do so without risking her home.