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Moneymates - money management for vulnerable people

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Moneymates advisor, Thom Bartley blogs about the service and how to remove the worry that financial management on behalf of another person can cause.

The benefits system is complicated; let’s get that out in the open straight away. What’s the difference between Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance? Which one should I claim? How do I claim? How do I know I’m receiving everything I’m entitled to? How do I fill in this 40 page form? When you have just about got your head around that there are a whole plethora of exemptions and exceptions, rules and regulations and just confusing eligibility criteria which for anyone, even professionals that deal with benefits on a day in day out basis is confusing.

I work for Bromford Support in a team called Moneymates. Moneymates is a corporate appointee service and we provide money management services to vulnerable adults. Our job is to alleviate the burden and the stress that managing finances causes on claimant’s who suffer with a disability as well as their families and their carers.  If you have any experience with dealing with the benefit system you will have an understanding how stressful it can be, to a person with a disability it can be pretty much impossible for them to gain access to the funds they are eligible for and need.

I’m sorry to be the bringer of gloom but I’m afraid over the next few years this situation isn’t going to get any better. This year sees the implementation of Universal Credit, Bedroom Tax, Benefit Caps and Personal Independence Payments. The entire benefit system is being overhauled and as it stands the best minds in social care are struggling to get their heads around the changes. People with disabilities in particular are facing changes which many will find difficult to manage.

The Moneymates team exists in order to remove the worry that financial management on behalf of another person can cause. We have three different levels of service which enables us to provide an appropriate and cost effective solution to people of varying needs. Our customers range from residents of care homes who physically or mentally are unable to manage their finances to people living in the community who may of been victims of financial abuse in the past or just struggle to keep on top of their money and budget effectively.

In addition to this we also provide other services which help our customers and their care staff. We provide a Motability service which means we can arrange for a car, modified to the customer’s specification to be provided, it even covers insurance and MOT’s. We also provide a direct payment management service. We have a on-going relationship with a high street bank which enables us to provide cash funds to customers who don’t have their own bank accounts. We also are able to provide prepaid credit cards which we can top up on the customers behalf. Every customer has differing needs and we have the infrastructure in place to enable us to tailor the service so that the customer and their staff have access to the most appropriate help for their particular situation.

Money management issues cause problems across the social sector. Care home staff, nurses and families find themselves spending countless frustrated hours trying to ensure that everything is managed adequately and that means they have less time to provide the ground level support and care which they are experts at.

Luckily local authorities, the NHS and mental health workers are starting to recognise the advantages of having a dedicated money management system in place. The amount of time and money spent trying to keep on top of the ever changing system can be mitigated by outsourcing that work to us. In addition to the customers getting the financial support they are entitled to the service can also save care providers money by ensuring that the staff in place to care for these people spend there time doing what they are best at, providing care; instead of filling in forms and ringing various benefit agencies.

We have a customer called Adam. When Adam first joined our service he was in a dire financial situation. He had been the victim of financial abuse and had ran up enormous debt, he lacked the capacity to manage his finances and his support staff were running themselves ragged, unsuccessfully, to try and rectify the situation.

Once we took over the management of his finances we ensured that he was getting the benefits he was entitled to and by liaising and communicating with him and his support staff drew up a budgeting plan which would enable Adam to continue doing the things that were important to him while eradicating the debt he had got himself into. I’m happy to say that today Adam is completely debt free. He’s not only debt free but we manage to make savings for him on his behalf. Last year Adam saved enough money that he could afford to go on Holiday to Jamaica and Amsterdam. One of his support staff rang us up the other day for a chat and now Adam is receiving money to fund his love for making music. His care staff have told us that since we got involved Adam’s behaviour, which at times in the past could be troublesome has greatly improved. He lives with more independence than ever and his support staff now have the time to concentrate on improving Adam’s life instead of calling up debt collection agencies. We are proud of Adam and happily Adam is one of the many customers we help who today enjoy a greater quality of life due to using our service.

There will be a few of you reading this who are involved in providing care for vulnerable people, there will be many of you who are worried about the upcoming changes to the system and how you will cope. I want to let you know that there is a solution available, a cost effective one at that, which helps all of the parties who are affected. If you want to know more then get in contact, we are here to help.

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