Lee Healey heads up IncomeMax, a community interest company in Essex which provides independent personal money advice for the real world that helps people take control of their finances. Despite his vast experience helping thousands of households manage their finances and providing advice on benefits, debts, budgeting, utility bills and employment, a recent encounter on live television would strengthen his resolve to help those in need even further.
In January, Lee appeared live on The Martin Lewis Money Show on ITV, a programme where consumer champion Martin Lewis offers money-saving tips to help alleviate the confusion around finances and the tax breaks and benefits that people are entitled to. Owing to his experience in the field, Lee was invited onto the show to help share advice on how people can save more and access further income through the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and was to be taken aback by the personal case of a man who called into the programme for advice: Christopher, a resident of Ayrshire.
Chris suffers with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a chronic condition which affects internal connective tissue and has left him unable to work. At the time of the live show on January 20, 2022, Chris had been waiting nine months without reply after applying to the Department for Work & Pensions [DWP] for Personal Independence Payment [PIP] and has been living solely on statutory sick pay. He called into the programme for advice on what alternative temporary sources of income he could have access to until his application was processed.
As well as his PIP application, Chris had also applied to Universal Credit through its work capability function for a top-up to his personal income and had been without a response since October 2021. He had even gone as far as approaching a charitable income source in the shape of the Scottish Welfare Fund and had still been left waiting.
Chris explained on the show that while his application was still processing, he could not receive his benefit entitlements and was unable to apply for a bus pass to aid his mobility in the local area. This, coupled with the minimal income he had been receiving through statutory sick pay and the rising costs of living, had left him feeling like a prisoner within his own home.
Speaking on the show, both Lee and host Martin Lewis pledged to maintain contact with Chris to help him going forward and help find solutions to his case.
Lee said: “We’ll get Chris some help to chase up the Department for Work & Pensions because he is not alone. Outside of that, Turn2Us have a fantastic grant search tool which can be used to check the eligibility for all types of charitable income you might be eligible for, just to provide some other options in the interim. At IncomeMax we have also launched a free self-help checklist to help people in need be able to more easily identify the types of help available that are most relevant to them.
“There are soon to be changes to the Scottish welfare system with PIP being replaced in future by the Adult Disability Payment, so that’ll be a whole new system which we’ll keep a close eye on to best understand how to go through that to help him in future.”
After the show had aired, Lee reflected on the case, saying that it would remain with him not solely due to its sheer power, but its standing as a representation of the struggles that so many vulnerable people have when applying for benefits.
Lee wrote on LinkedIn: “I think this case study will live with me forever because it was so powerful, but also completely symbolic of the terrible issues vulnerable people can have with the benefits system.
“This is why I founded IncomeMax, so that we could provide advice, guidance and support and help people fight these terrible injustices. The good news on this case is that Martin Lewis will take this up with DWP alongside support from us at IncomeMax so that hopefully, in the long term we cannot only get Chris’ case sorted, but also get DWP to make improvements so that vulnerable people get the help they need quicker and in a way that is kind, compassionate and more supportive.”
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