Case Study 4
This case was referred by the Health Coach because the client was distressed and confused by her financial situation. She lives alone and her husband had recently passed away. However, when the adviser called the Health Coach, it became clear that the exact causes of this distress were difficult to ascertain and there was a discussion around whether the case was appropriate for our service given that the Citizens Advice Bureau ran an outreach service in the client’s town.
The adviser called the client and tried to identify the exact causes of the financial distress but the client only talked about some money that went missing at the bank and that she felt that nobody would or could help her. The client sounded very upset and anxious on the telephone and the adviser made an appointment to determine if this was an area in which the service could help.
During the first home visit, the client stated that she has an ongoing issue with her high street bank. She said that she attempted to transfer £3850 from one of her accounts to another in order to pay for her husband’s funeral but that this money was never transferred and the bank insists that she left the building with the money in cash and the client insists she never received it.
The client showed the adviser several bank statements and the paperwork indicated that she had sought advice from the bank about this matter. In fact, the client said that the bank manager had walked her to the nearest police station and that the police had also visited her at home and taken a statement. The client’s account showed a large overdraft plus several liabilities and it was clear that, for whatever reason, she was indeed in financial distress and that it was an appropriate referral.
During the later half of the appointment, the client’s son and daughter in law arrived. They asked the adviser if she was a police officer and the adviser explained the role of a money advice caseworker. The adviser asked them to call the police to collect a criminal reference number to help with any potential criminal investigations. The adviser made a further appointment with the client and took the paperwork away to be studied in more detail.
It became clear from the paperwork that large and regular sums of money were being withdrawn from the client’s account either in cash or as transfers to another account. The adviser spent several hours determining the facts around the irregularities on the account. The paperwork showed that her son had been taking between £600 and £300 per month for a number of years. This money equates to the value of Attendance Allowance for the client and her late husband
At the next home visit, the adviser asked the client if she was aware of these transactions. The client said that she gives her son carers allowance. The adviser explained that the money she receives is not carers allowance but Attendance Allowance and that this money is hers, not his. The adviser asked the client to describe the care he provides and it was clear it fell significantly short of the standard expected of a carer.
The adviser asked the client if she felt she could afford to maintain these payments given her financial distress and she said that she could not. The adviser offered to write a letter to her son informing him that his mother no longer consented to him asking for this money. However, at the next home visit, the client explained that she had telephoned him and explained she no longer felt able to give him this money. She also explained that all of her neighbours had told her not to give him this money. The letter was left on file.
After several weeks working with the client, the adviser had successfully resolved a number of financial issues. The adviser completed a financial statement and opened a new bank account. This was done because her former bank account was overdrawn because of the irregular transactions and it was appropriate to try and separate her debts and liabilities. In addition, the adviser noticed that she had a packaged account and when the adviser asked if she used any of the services included in this package, the client could not identify any that benefited her. The adviser complained to the bank and the client received a refund of mis-sold bank charges of nearly £2,500.
The adviser also contacted her creditors to set up repayment plans and maximised her income through claims for Pension Credit and Council Tax Support. The adviser also applied for a discount on her water tariff. During this time, the client had mentioned that her late husband’s property was about to be sold and that she was expecting a large sum of money, half of which would also go to her son. The adviser identified that the client had legal advice and the client stated that she trusted her son to organise the payment of this money into her account.
Unfortunately, the client subsequently contacted the adviser to report that her son never transferred this money. The adviser contacted her solicitor and financial adviser and it appeared that the client’s son had misled the client into assigning the land over to him. Rather than transferring the proceeds from the sale of the land from his bank account to her account, as he had led her to believe he would, he kept all of the money. The value of the money is around £60,000.
The financial adviser, solicitor and the adviser all encouraged the client to contact the police and she has given several witness statements and the son has been charged. The adviser has also provided documentary evidence to highlight some of the other areas in which the client may have been the subject of financial abuse including the irregular transactions and missing funeral money. The adviser also accompanied the client to her former bank and ascertained that they have documentary evidence of their concerns over the client’s son’s behaviour and this was subsequently reported to the investigating officer.
There are other potential areas of crime such as stealing £3,000 which the client had given to her stepson on the understanding that he would hand deliver it to a family member but the money never arrived. The client’s stepson has also attempted to put his name on the deeds of the house after his father had died. This was averted by the client’s former solicitor.
The client was clearly very distressed by the actions of her son and her health and wellbeing worsened during this period. She has been hospitalised and needed additional support through her doctor. However, she more recently reports that she feels less anxious about her situation and has accepted what has taken place. Now that the financial abuse has been identified and stopped, the client’s financial wellbeing has improved as a result of regaining control over her transactions. The client now has a small sum of savings and is paying her regular household expenditures. She has also settled all of the outstanding liabilities that she was anxious about including her late husband’s funeral bill.