Recently, a GCRP Advice Worker has assisted a Polish male whose life has been turned upside down after he was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition. The male, who is a self-employed plasterer and decorator, had to stop working immediately. He was told he would not be able to work for at least a few months following surgery.
Because he was self-employed, he was not entitled to a Statutory Sick Pay. He lived on his own paying mortgage on his flat and he had no other source of income apart from his job he could no longer do.
The client came to our office to enquire about benefits and other financial help he might be entitled to. The Advice Worker suggested he should apply for the Employment and Support Allowance and she helped him with the application process. A while later, the male was refused the income-related ESA due to the fact that he owned two properties, and contribution-based ESA due to not having paid enough National Insurance contributions. Since the client had been self-employed and paid NI contributions regularly over the past 5 years, it seemed rather strange that he had been refused the contribution-based ESA. The advice worker called the HMRC to investigate and it turned out that the client had been paying his son’s contributions by mistake.
The Advice Worker then helped to write a letter to HMRC asking for the contributions to be transferred from the client's son's account to his own, something the son had agreed to in writing. A few weeks later, the matter had been resolved and the client was awarded the ESA.