Gemma’s story

Croydon Council identify vital benefits for Gemma and her children

Gemma’s story is part of our Resident stories series

Gemma is a single parent from Croydon, whose income was negatively affected by the benefit cap. Gemma’s benefits were suddenly reduced by £93.63 per week and she began falling behind with her finances, struggling to provide for her children. 

After missing some payments, Gemma accumulated rent arrears and served an eviction notice from her landlady. This meant that Gemma and her young children aged could soon become homeless. 

Terrified of these consequences, Gemma reached out to her local Community Connect Advisor in Croydon Council for support and guidance. 

Croydon Council use Policy in Practice’s BetterOff Calculator to help residents like Gemma to understand their income and entitlements. The calculator allows frontline staff to work with residents to assess their finances including debts and entitlements and support them back to financial independence. 

The Community Connect Advisor helped Gemma to create a tailored action plan which helped her visualise her journey back to financial resilience. Using the calculator they discovered Gemma was missing out on Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Together they applied for the DLA as well as a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) to cover the arrears she had accumulated.

Both of Gemma’s applications were successfully approved. The DLA meant that Gemma’s monthly income increased and the DHP helped her to repay the arrears she had accumulated. Most importantly though, by working with Croydon Council Gemma and her three children were able to avoid homelessness and could stay in the family home.

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