Supporting our residents when they need it most: Michael’s story

21 May 2021

Summary: When taxi-driver of 30 years, Michael, was made redundant, Jose at MTVH was able to support him when it mattered most.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on people and the economy across the country, and some of those who have been particularly affected have been the self-employed. At MTVH, we are more determined than ever to providing the support our residents and customers need, and this has made a huge difference for many people.

MTVH resident, Michael Colbert, a self-employed taxi driver of 30 years from Hackney, was made redundant and lost his only source of income last year due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, Michael wasn’t able to access employee benefits, such as sick pay or the furlough scheme, leaving him in distress and struggling to pay his rent.

After reaching out to MTVH’s customer services team for help, Michael was put in touch with Jose Doval, a specialist debt and benefits caseworker in the Money Advice team. Jose spoke with Michael to find out more about his financial circumstances and learned that he had never claimed benefits before and wasn’t confident using computers. Fortunately, Jose was able to support Michael to submit a Universal Credit application over the phone, which was successful. This meant that Michael’s rent was covered, and he was also able to obtain financial support with his Council Tax bill thanks to Jose’s support. .

When later in the year Michael reached his state retirement age and was no longer eligible for Universal Credit, Jose was once again on hand to help apply and receive pension credit benefit and housing benefit to maintain his tenancy.

Commenting on the support Jose was able to provide, Michael said:

“Jose has helped me throughout the process of my journey. It’s been extremely difficult not only adjusting to change due to Covid but finding and understanding financial help available. I would not have been able to survive financially without help from Jose, he has been a life saver.”

Due to the economic repercussions of the pandemic, many MTVH residents and customers are facing challenges financially. With more people potentially accessing the social security system for the first-time, new claimants are likely to be anxious and without continued financial support many people are in the risk of falling into unemployment, deeper poverty and unable to afford the basics they need.

That’s why MTVH’s Money Advice Team has been so important. Referrals to the team have increased by 45% since lockdown restrictions were first introduced, with the team supporting over 2,227 residents this year with issues such as claiming benefits, submitting benefit appeals, budgeting, and addressing fuel poverty. The Money Advice Team have secured a massive £689,000 of additional income for our residents and the value of their service, based on reduction in rent arrears and additional income secured, has reached £1.6million already.

Specialist Benefit and Debt Caseworker, Jose Doval said:

“Our role as money advisers has become a necessity since the pandemic began. More residents who have no experience of claiming benefits have found themselves befuddled by where or how to get help. This has been more evident with our older residents, many of whom are unable to complete tasks on a computer without assistance. Case in point, Mr Colbert, who would have not been able to survive without the safety net offered by Universal Credit, but with no idea on how to go about claiming it. Providing support to ensure Michael received the support he needed was my priority and I’m happy I was able to help him develop financial stability.”

“Without support from the Money Advice Team many of our tenants would be in a much worse position, both financially and it does have a big effect on mental health, especially the anxiety of being in arrears and not being able to afford the basic everyday items.”

If you are an MTVH resident or customer and you are worried about your financial situation, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss the support we are able to provide. You can contact us at