The trouble with money
Posted Monday 14 September 2009
I was sad to read in The Guardian a few weeks ago that Tony Levene is leaving his post answering money related questions for the column Capital letters. As his final article indicated, he has done a lot to highlight the issues for people with mental health problems, in particular a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, and the way they are treated by financial institutions.
At Mind, we're celebrating a year since the re-launch of our legal advice service, and the calls that we get show that many people with mental health problems experience poor treatment when it comes to dealing with financial problems.
There was the call from the woman who had been released from hospital to find that she was homeless due to being in rent arrears. Or the one from the daughter in despair as the bailiffs were outside her father's home whilst he was in hospital under section.
She was told that they couldn't discuss the issue with her due to the Data Protection Act (DPA) which meant she was unable to resolve the situation and her father would return from hospital, still not back to full health, to have to deal with the threat himself. This is despite the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) making it clear that the DPA should not be used as a screen (link to PDF file) behind which to hide from ever dealing with third parties.
The ICO recommends a common sense approach, saying that the DPA should not be used as an excuse by those reluctant to take a balanced decision. Surely this would work for the wider finance issues that people with mental health problems often face?
Any of us stuck in hospital would find it near impossible to keep up repayments on loans or rent, but most of us would want to try to come to a to a reasonable agreement with our finance companies.
Simply forcing the issue would just leave us in a worse situation, and guarantee that we wouldn't have any money to ever pay back the loans!
Tony Levene's Guardian column may be no more, but fortunately he is still sharing his wisdom, in bite size nuggets, on Twitter.
Bridget O'Connell, Head of Information
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