Further updates since yesterday’s edition:

Shelter

Housing Advice: covers eviction, problems paying rent, mortgage arrears, and more: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus

Domestic abuse

Info on a range of organisations: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/gender-violence/domestic-violence-and-abuse-organisations-which-give-information-and-advice/

Locally, STARS [Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service] have increased their telephone support service on: 01202 308855, available at the following times:

  • Mondays 10am-12pm and 3pm – 5pm
  • Tuesdays 10am -12pm and 3pm – 5pm
  • Wednesdays 10am -12pm, 3pm – 5pm and 7.30pm – 9.30pm
  • Thursdays 10am -12pm, 3pm – 5pm and 7.30pm – 9.30pm
  • Fridays 10am -12pm, 3pm – 5pm and 7.30pm – 9.30pm

Read more:

DWP update

  • All roles at JCP are being asked to focus on meeting the extremely high demand for new claims. Staff are carrying out “bio” id checks by telephone where possible in an attempt to speed up the process. Non essential work is being put to one side.
  • The JCP offices have closed their doors but they have posters which display a local telephone number for  vulnerable customers to call. Local staff will help and then have the option to open the doors to assist. Numbers as below.

INFO: JCP telephone numbers for vulnerable customers.…these are the telephone numbers for Dorset and the New Forest:

Blandford: 01258 434334 (Tuesday and Thursday) and 01202 333123 (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) ·

Bournemouth: 01202 858425 ·

Bridport: 01305 328019 or 01305 328148 (Monday and Friday 9am – 5pm) ·

 Hythe: 02380 538307

Lymington: 01590 666624

Poole: 01202 333123

Ringwood: 01425 236921. Their poster stipulates phone availability between 9am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm.

Weymouth: 01305 328019 or 01305 328148

  • Issues such as the Habitual Residence Test are being decided through a modified process based on taking the trust of the claimant; if fraud was determined at a later stage then action would be taken.
  • Govt schemes to make payments to employees and the self employed and the interaction with benefit claims. It seems like there may be potential overpayment situations, but the DWP and HMRC are waiting for further guidance on this. In the meantime, the advice is always to make a claim.
  • Due to the high pressure on the telephone services, ongoing claimants are being encouraged to communicate via their journal rather than calling.
  • For JSA; claimant commitments can be accepted online. If claimants are vulnerable these can be accepted by telephone.

Cabinet Office announcement: The UK Government yesterday launched a GOV.UK Coronavirus Information service on WhatsApp.

The new free to use service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19), and will further reduce the burden on NHS services.

This will help combat the spread of coronavirus misinformation in the UK, as well as helping ensure people stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

The GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service is an automated ‘chatbot’ service which will allow the British public to get answers to the most common questions about coronavirus direct from government. The service will provide information on topics such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases in the UK, advice on staying at home, travel advice and myth busting.

The service will also allow the government to send messages to all opted-in users if required.

To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.

A set of menu options is then presented which the user can choose from and then be sent relevant guidance from GOV.UK pages as well as links to GOV.UK for further information.