The Advice Dorset Partnership covers the geographical county of Dorset, and is circulated every fortnight, to bring you news and information relating to the advice sector in Dorset and Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole. The Partnership is supported by Citizens Advice in Dorset (CAiD). 

During the Covid-19 outbreak we are usually publishing a weekly E News to keep you updated on information you may need for your clients/service users (benefits, rights for the self-employed, other financial help, support services, and anything else we hope may be of use…….).

As usual feel free to forward this email to  colleagues and  they can get in touch with us if they wish to go on the list.  If you would like to send anything out via the bulletin,  and for all other enquiries about the Advice Dorset Partnership, contact Caroline Buxton on her Citizens Advice Central Doset email [from May the E News will be sent out from this address]:  mailto:caroline.buxton@centralca.org.uk

Covid-19 Information Updates

JOB RETENTION BONUS: Scheme announced on 8 July – read the HMRC briefing here: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKHMRCED/bulletins/2949f99

HMRC – Furlough guidance for employers: This was updated on 10 July 2020: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

CIPD guidance on redundancy: A useful overview, aimed more at employers. https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/redundancy/coronavirus-guide?utm_source=mc&utm_medium=email&utm_content=cipdupdate_08072020.F2L1_redundancy_guide&utm_campaign=cipd_update&utm_term=8314855

DWP COMPLAINTS:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dwp-improves-complaints-handling

Withdrawing Crisis Social Security Measures – House of Commons briefing paper published 22 July. Useful summary and part 2 contains proposed withdrawal dates: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8973/CBP-8973.pdf

Local information

EMERGENCY PRE-PAYMENT METER VOUCHERS: Funds are still available for households on a low income affected by Covid-19. A maximum of 3 vouchers are available per household, each voucher worth £49. The vouchers are not cash, but will be linked to their energy account. The client may be referred to their local Citizens Advice or other organisations for advice relating to benefits, debt, energy issues, etc. Referral can be by phone or email: 01929 775500 mailto:voucher@purbeck.cabnet.org.uk Read more:

Here is also a flyer summarising energy advice available under the Keep Warm for Less service run by Purbeck Citizens Advice:

Training and briefings

Employment Briefing: Citizens Advice Central Dorset are running a 2 hour Zoom briefing on employment rights, which includes a reminder of basic rights and a run through of the Covid-related schemes and other related issues (such as returning to work safely). This session is free; there is a short piece of pre-course reading. Next session:

Wednesday 29 July 10 – 12.

To book contact: mailto:sian.mcgonigle@centralca.org.uk

HMCTS: Use of remote hearings to maintain justice during Covid 19. This recording of a live event held on 15 July provided an outline of how HMCTS have expanded the use of technology to hold more video and audio hearings to ensure justice is maintained during COVID-19. The panel also spoke about forthcoming plans for the new technology and how it will be rolled out to further courts in the near future. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/hmcts-online-event-15-july-2020-use-of-remote-hearings-to-maintain-justice-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

Could you spot Loan Shark? The Illegal Money Lending team are running a 45 minute online seminar; Tuesdays at 2pm, 28 July, 4, 11, 18 and 25 August. Here’s the eventbrite link to the first one: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/stop-loan-sharks-project-free-online-45-minute-training-seminar-tickets-113654006192

Psychological first aid courses: Psychological First Aid (PFA) is the globally recommended training for supporting people during emergencies and offers guidance on delivering psychosocial care in the immediate aftermath of the emergency event.

On this course, you’ll explore the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and what you can do to help people cope. The course will teach you the key principles of giving psychological first aid in emergencies.

This course has been produced by Public Health England and is based on international guidance from the World Health Organisation, United Nations and partners. It’s an online course, various starting dates. Read more; https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/psychological-first-aid-covid-19/1

Reports

National Audit Office: UC Getting to the first payment

Many people claim Universal Credit at a challenging time in their lives. As such, the initial wait, which is an inherent part of Universal Credit’s design and operational processes, does not cause all the issues that claimants may face but, in the context of many claimants’ existing financial difficulties, can exacerbate their problems.

This New report finds that delays in payments often due to people having difficulty with claims process, and that 80 per cent of disabled claimants and people on low incomes had benefit reduced by repayment of advance or other debt. DWP stats have revealed that 250,000 housholds are affected by teh tow child policy. Read more; https://www.nao.org.uk/report/universal-credit-getting-to-first-payment/

No DSS’ is discrimination: This Shelter blog reports on the recent case at York County Court, in which ‘no DSS’ discrimination was declared unlawful, meaning letting agents and private landlords will have to drive out old discriminatory practices for good.   The District Judge confirmed that rejecting tenancy applications because the applicant is in receipt of housing benefit is unlawfully indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of sex and disability, and contrary to sections 19 and 29 of the Equality Act 2010.  Read more: https://blog.shelter.org.uk/2020/07/no-dss-landmark-court-ruling%E2%80%AFdeclares%E2%80%AFhousing-benefit%E2%80%AFdiscrimination%E2%80%AFis%E2%80%AFunlawful%E2%80%AF/

Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit claimants: statistics related to the policy to provide support for a maximum of 2 children, April 2020: In this report, published 16 july, the DWP advises that, as at April 2020, there were 250,300 households in receipt of either child tax credit (145,880) or universal credit (104,420) reporting a third or subsequent child born after 6 April 2017. Of these:

  • 243,270 households were not receiving a child element or amount for at least one child in their household;
  • 57 per cent were in work (defined as eligible for working tax credit within the tax credit system, and in receipt of employment income within universal credit);
  • 40 per cent were single adult households; and
  • 59 per cent were households with three children, 26 per cent had four children, and 15 per cent had five or more children.
  • In relation to exceptions to the policy, the figures show that 11,100 households were in receipt of at least one exception.

Read the full report here; https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-tax-credit-and-universal-credit-claimants-statistics-related-to-the-policy-to-provide-support-for-a-maximum-of-2-children-april-2020

‘Home truths’: This report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman says that problems with the way councils are meeting new housing duties are making some homeless people’s situation worse. The LGCSO investigated 50 cases under the Homelessness Reduction Act, introduced in 2018.

While the cases are pre Covid-19, the guidance is all the more pertinent as temporary, emergency measures introduced to reduce homelessness during the peak come to an end. Problems identified include councils delaying helping people and difficulties in issuing Personalised Housing Plans – the documents which set out what has been agreed between the homeless person and local authority to address the problem. The Ombudsman also found simple communication issues, with people left unsure about the next steps they need to take, or not being told about their rights to challenge a council’s decision.

The report highlights stories from the Ombudsman’s casework, and gives advice on how councils can take steps to avoid similar situations in their areas. https://www.lgo.org.uk/information-centre/news/2020/jul/ombudsman-highlights-where-councils-can-improve-services-to-homeless-people

Funding

The Comic Relief COVID-19 Community Fund will provide grants of £4,000 to English grass roots organisations in order for them to respond to the current crisis and recover through enhanced Capacity building grants of £1000. We understand that many small grassroots organisations have had to respond rapidly to the COVID-19 crisis, so these funds will be distributed quickly through a simplified application process and weekly grants panels.

This programme will only support grass roots, not for profit voluntary or community organisations (including registered charities/companies) with an annual turnover of under £250,000 and include members with lived experience. They will deliver projects that provide community benefit across one of Comic Reliefs strategic themes.

  • Children Survive & Thrive: projects that support children under the age of five to reach their potential and have the best start in life
  • Fighting for Gender Justice: projects that improve equality for women, girls and initiatives that help people affected by domestic violence, abuse or exploitation due to their gender
  • A Safe Place to Be: projects that support people who are rebuilding their lives because of homelessness or forced migration
  • Mental Health Matters: projects that support good mental health in communities, improve access to support and tackle stigma and discrimination

Read more: https://www.groundwork.org.uk/comic-relief-apply-for-a-covid-19-community-grant/