Service Manager Melanie Murphy on ways the service supports people with the cost of living crisis

As the cost of living crisis continues across the country our staff in Together services work in different ways to support the people who use our services. That can be in terms of the mental health impact of worries around finance or in more practical ways such as linking to services that can advise on tariffs and bills.

Melanie Murphy is Service Manager at Together’s Advocacy Together Hub Knowsley and shares a recent example of the way the she has looked to support a person with the cost of living crisis as part of the service:

I am working with a person who has just been released from Prison, she has a corporate appointee for her finances as she has a learning disability. She is on a pre-payment meter at her flat for her electricity. The costs of being on a pre-payment meter are exceptionally high and a lot more than if you are able to afford to pay by direct debit. The people I work alongside are often unable to budget and save money to pay via direct debit when they are on Welfare Benefits which means they are unfairly targeted with higher costs.

As the person has a corporate appointee, they have been able to set up a direct debit for them and she is now on a cheaper tariff for her electricity. The corporate appointee is able to do this by reducing the weekly allowance that is issued to the person each week, but others managing their own finances are unable to do this. To explain a bit more, a Corporate Appointee is an a professional from an organisation that takes on the financial management of a person’s funds. A Corporate Appointee could be a Local Authority, a solicitor or a qualified private company. The Corporate Appointee must act in the best interest of the person they support.

Often a person is at risk of financial abuse and is unable to manage a bank account due to their inability to manage their own funds. As a Together Independent Advocate I represent a person’s wishes and support options to identify a least restrictive option that enables the person to be protected but also access some funds for their personal use. One of the protective options available is the Corporate Appointee. Without this safeguarding of representation, a lot of vulnerable people wouldn’t be supported to have the best tariff arranged for them. The Corporate Appointee is managed by a knowledgeable accountant that look after a person’s outgoings and gets the best deals.

A person can go under the radar for safeguarding support, unless they are looked after by services like our Advocacy Together Hub Knowsley. Energy companies are targeting people who do not get help to set up Direct Debits and are placed on a high tariff instead. There is no help for poor people without them being identified by key services. There are lots of lost people out there without any help.

Thank you to Melanie for taking the time to share this story.