Carers Income Maximisation Project - Meet the TeamDate published: 9th June 2020
Carers Income Maximisation Project: Meet the Team - Billy Hardie
Q1: What is a typical day like in your job?
Normally it is visiting clients at their homes, phone calls or meeting them at CARF Offices. I have 2 appointments per day available for new clients, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. The meeting can last for up to 2 hours, to allow time for completion of application forms, benefit checks or benefit advice. This gives carers plenty time to ask questions and for to take action immediately on the advice provided, no wait for a follow up appointment. The rest of the working day is concerned with completing case notes, mandatory training to keep competent in advice provision, team meetings and admin tasks.
Q2: How has Covid-19 affected your job?
Due to Covid-19, there has been two main changes to my job. Obviously I can no longer physically meet with clients however, I do now have the option of using video conferencing if clients would prefer that to telephone advice. The only other change is that I now have my dog sitting beside me all day in my new office/kitchen.
Benefit applications are completed, where possible, online on behalf of the client. If application does not have an online option, the forms and other documents are being completed and either emailed or I print them off and post them.
Q3: Why did you apply for this job?
Attraction of having paid employment, which utilises me being able offer advice from my acquired training and knowledge on benefits and general advice. Prior to this I was a volunteer adviser within CARF. I provided general advice in the Dunfermline office and two days per week I delivered specialist money advice to clients living in Glenrothes. Through these roles I witnessed the challenges carers sometimes faced accessing drop in services, particularly during peak times.
Q4: What has given you the most job satisfaction?
Assisting carers to improve their entitled income. Hearing how this new income will ease the pressure on their lives, allow them to spend quality time and enjoy activities with the people they care for.
Q5: What frustrates you the most about your job?
Many carers have received wrong advice or believe they have no entitlement due to social media posts and misinformed support networks in the community. The most common being for those of pension age believing they are not entitled to Carers Allowance when in fact, many can establish an underlying entitlement to this benefit, where although the benefit is not paid to them, it would provide a carers premium to their pension credit entitlement. This is in addition to the new Scottish Social security Carers supplement payable bi-annually.
Q6: What are your plans for this year?
To build up referrals and promote the project around Fife. Especially expanding promotion to the North East Fife area which is rural and we have had less client engagement in this area. I would also like to help and engage with more Kinship Carers.
Q7: What is the most popular question you are asked by clients?
What other benefits am I entitled to, if any?
Q8: What is the answer to that question?
Let me do a full benefit check for you to find out.
Q9: What is the most frequent social policy issue you see affecting unpaid carers?
People of Pension Age who cannot claim Carers Allowance due to the amount they receive in their State Retirement Pension. Even though this is an income which prevents them from applying, they invariably struggle (because of their age) more than younger carers to look after their partners or children. They feel that having worked all their lives they are disadvantaged from younger people who may never have worked. The only way to get extra Carer income/elements is if they are entitled to Pension Credits or other benefits.
Q10: How can carers get in contact with you for advice and assistance?
Carers can contact me or my colleague Dougie by:
E Mail: CIMReferral@carfonline.org.uk or by calling CARF General Advice Line - 0345 1400 095.
We will also accept referrals on behalf of carers from any support workers and other agencies within Fife.