The Advice Dorset Partnership E news is published fortnightly on a Thursday, BUT if there is something urgent in-between we will send out a short supplementary edition. * The E news works in financial years for some reason lost in the mists of time, so this is No 1 of the new financial year!

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 Dorset email:  mailto:caroline.buxton@centralca.org.uk

You can view previous editions of the E news HERE.

Jobs and volunteer roles

STARS: Adult ISVA [Independent Sexual Violence Advisors] focusing on male clients. Salary £21,000-£23,000 (FTE) Pending pay review (Dependent on experience & qualifications).

This is an exciting opportunity for a dedicated frontline practitioner who has experience of supporting vulnerable and often complex individuals enabling them to move on in their lives following the disclosure of sexual violence. You will provide advocacy and support to our clients and, at times, to their families. Excellent communication skills with a working knowledge of safeguarding procedures and multi-agency work are essential, as is a commitment to working in a person-centred way. We are a pan-Dorset charity working across the county with our administration centre based in Poole. This post will involve travel across Dorset and access to a suitable vehicle is essential with business insurance and a full driving licence. Read more here.

STARS are also advertising for an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) Assistant, supporting Children and Young People, full time, with a salary range of £20,000 – £21,000. This is a new post to connect with our clients to inform, support and guide through appointments, phone calls and sessions. You will manage a caseload and work with clients, families, and stakeholders to ensure the best practice and outcomes. Additionally, you will work with various areas of the organisation whilst managing your own diary and will serve as an ambassador for STARS DORSET. Read more here.

Citizens Advice Central Dorset – Sherborne Co-ordinator: We are looking for somebody to provide day to day support to the team to enable them to deliver a valued and consistent service to local residents. The duties will include organising the advice rota, running multi channel advice sessions and coordinating the training needs of the team. Hours 21 hours per week, Salary £14.56 per hour (£15,900 per annum). Read more and find the application pack here.

Citizens Advice Central Dorset – Trustee – Treasurer: This is a volunteer role, and is an opportunity to join the Trustee Board of a well known and respected charity – CACD. We have a Board of Trustees with a variety of backgrounds who all have the passion and dedication to make a positive difference for people, who need help and advice on a wide range of matters, in our community. We welcome and encourage applications from every part of our community. The position covers the Dorchester, Gillingham, Sherborne and Weymouth and Portland Areas, with a time requirement of 3 to 4 hours per month plus additional Sub Committee and Board Meetings (usually 4 per year). An Accounting qualification is desirable. Read more below – Closing Date: 30 April 2022.

Information updates

April’s Fact Sheet:

UKRAINE

General Information:

  • Homes for Ukraines – FAQs.
  • British Red Cross leaflet covering a range of issues – and on their website there is also information in Ukrainian.
  • Barnado’s Ukrainian Support Helpline: Support with therapy with a qualified psychotherapist, advice on a range of issues e.g., housing, accessing key health services, education, employment etc, and practical support – access to digital devices to ensure families stay connected to loved ones during this worrying time, as well as stimulating toys for children, vital baby items and more. Call: 0800 148 8586  More info including email contact details here.

Benefits: Information on the Understanding Universal Credit website here includes links to info on other benefits such as Pension Credit. From Touchbase: People arriving in the UK from Ukraine because of the Russian invasion can apply for financial help immediately, as well as access tailored job support. Ukrainians can apply for benefits and other types of financial support from the day they arrive in the UK.Translation services are available to help new arrivals with phone applications, and work coaches in DWP Jobcentres are on hand to support people making claims online.

Host families – impact on benefits: This Adviser on-line article has clear answers to questions about the effect of the £350 payment on benefits, premiums, the ‘bedroom tax’, non-dependent deductions ….. and more.

Local Information and support

  • Local Council information: Dorset, BCP
  • Help and Kindness have been asked to “make contact with all the local Host networks to invite them to connect into this web of brilliant people and support, so #DorsetTogether can help you and the refugees in a more purposeful and appropriate way as things unfold”.
  • Dorset Race Equality Council: includes information for EU citizens with settled status who may have a relative in Ukraine. Plus – news that Wilson Solicitors have received funding for a not-for-profit caseworker role for an initial three month period to act for people in need seeking safe haven from Ukraine – free advice and assistance, info and referral form here.

EMPLOYMENT

National Minimum Wage: The hourly rates increase from 1st April 2022 as below:

  • Workers aged 23 and over £9.50
  • Workers aged 21 and 22 £9.18
  • Workers aged 18 to 20 £6.83
  • Workers aged 16 and 17 £4.81
  • Apprentices £4.81

Statutory payments have also increased from 6 Apri:

  • Statutory Sick Pay: £99.35 per week
  • Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay all increase to £156.66 per week.

Covid provisions and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): Previous regulations from March 2020 suspended the 3 day waiting period for entitlement to SSP where a person was incapable of work due to infection with coronavirus or was isolating because of it. Those provisions expired on 24 March 2022. However, new savings regulations continue the protection for those whose incapacity for work because of infection with coronavirus commenced on or before 24 March 2022. Also from this date those ‘isolating’ or ‘shielding’ can no longer get SSP, unless they are actually incapable of work. More information from the Citizens Advice website.

FAMILY/RELATIONSHIPS

New Divorce law from 6 April: It will be possible to apply for a divorce under the new law from 6 April via online or paper application. The benefits of using the new system include being able to make a joint application and applicants not having to provide evidence of blame or minimum separation periods. The new process will be longer however, taking a minimum of 6 months. A good overview from Citizens Advice.

Forced marriage: The Govt has updated its statutory guidance, and also the information and guidelines for professionals – here – on how to protect, advise and support victims of forced marriage.

COST OF LIVING CRISIS & MONEY ISSUES

Where can I get help with the cost of living crisis? This Citizens Advice blog has a summary of essential information on what people can do if they are struggling to make ends meet.

‘Managing your money in uncertain times’: The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) has launched new guidance on the MoneyHelper website to help people manage changes to the cost of living. Its focus is on people who have not yet missed payments on their bills or credit commitments, but who are at serious risk of doing so. These resources and tools are aimed at people who:

  • Are struggling to keep on top of their bills and payments
  • Have experienced a reduction in income or squeezed budgets
  • Are self-employed
  • Have been or are worried about being made redundant or losing their job

‘Fuel Direct’: Energy supplier requests for fuel direct deduction form benefits have been paused for 1 year from 1 April. In response to the rise in energy costs only claimants themselves will be able to request new deductions for ongoing consumption, or request an increase or decrease to existing deductions. More information on deductions from Universal Credit here.

ENERGY

Boiler upgrade scheme: The Government’s scheme to provide grants for the installation of low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps is open from 1 April, for domestic and small non-domestic properties. These grants will help property owners overcome the upfront cost of low carbon heating technologies. The scheme will be open to domestic and small non-domestic properties. Applicants will be able to get:

  • £5,000 off the cost and installation of an air source heat pump
  • £5,000 off the cost and installation of a biomass boiler (in rural locations and in properties that are not connected to the gas grid)

OTHER

Free School Meals: The Minister for Children and Families has made a statement on free school meals saying these will continue to be available to low income families even where they have a no recourse to public funds condition or are an undocumented migrant. This was a temporary concession introduced during the pandemic that has now been made permanent. Local councils can share data with the Home Office, so an undocumented migrant in particular needs to be aware of this in case this is a problem.

Gambling: Citizens Advice has updated its information on getting help with gambling problems – here.

EU Settlement Scheme. Local support for people making applications continues to be provided by Citizens Advice BCP. A summary of the project so far and what help is currently available (until September) is here. Meanwhile a report from the Migration Observatory highlights that only 1 in 10 people granted pre-settled status (PSS) have upgraded to settled status. If you are assisting an EEA citizen – whether for immigration or benefits or housing etc. – encourage them to apply to upgrade if they have PSS and have achieved 5-years residence in the UK. They needn’t wait until their PSS is about to expire.

Royal Mail: The cost of stamps has now gone up – 1st class stamps now cost 95p and 2nd class stamps cost 68p. ‘Everyday’ stamps now have barcodes. From 31 March people can swap their non-barcoded stamps to barcoded ones with the Swap Out scheme by downloading a form and sending them to a Freepost address, or putting in an online request for a form to be sent. Forms can also be picked up from Customer Service Points. Non-barcoded stamps will be valid until 31 January 2023. Moe info here.

LOCAL SUPPORT ORGANISATIONS

Dorpip is an attachment parenting service who specialise in the infant-parent relationship. They support families with talking therapy to nurture a safe and secure relationship with their infants – helping to give children the best possible start in life. If you feel you, or someone you work with, needs ‘gentle, confidential support to talk about the challenges of being a parent’ read more here. Currently sessions are free for those who meet the criteria of the parent-infant relationship being at risk – and are also available to Ukrainian refugees.

Events

Policy in Practice webinars: Innovations in designing Council Tax support schemes – 27 April. Universal Credit migration – 25 May. Book here. (See below for a link to a recent webinar on social tariffs).

Transgender Day of Visibility was on 31 March: This annual awareness day aims to recognise and celebrate the contributions, successes, and resilience of trans and non-binary people. Information and resources are on various websites, for example the LGBT foundation.

Ramadan runs throughout April, ending on 2 or 3 May, read more on the Muslim Council of Britain website here. This has a range of information, including practical advice – some aimed at employers.

Reports, research, webinars, consultations etc

State of the Voluntary and Community Sector Survey: This survey is for organisations working in Dorset and/or BCP, and aims to capture information we can share widely and use going forward to look at how the sector is changing, how we can best work together, and our role in offering the right support, training and influence. Deadline 13 May. Link to survey.

Centre for Social Justice – ‘Swimming with Sharks’ report: As many as 1.08 million people in England could be in debt to an illegal money lender, commonly known as a loan shark – over 700,000 more than official estimates – according to this report, released as the cost of living crisis bites on family budgets. Read the report here. To report a loan shark, and for more information, go to the Illegal Money Lending’s Stop Loan Sharks website

Policy in Practice webinar on social tariffs: Watch the recording of this webinar here – lots of useful analysis and tips with speakers from organisations including the Good Things Foundation and EnergyUK.

“As a renter, you never truly feel at home”: This article uses evidence from the Citizens Advice Tenant Voices Panel, and finds that to level up the private rented sector, tenants’ voices need to be at the forefront of government reform. Members of the Tenants Voice panel shares the realities of renting today, and what needs to change in the Renters’ Reform Bill. Read more here.

Funding news

The Triangle Trust 1949 Fund: Grants to charities and non-profit social enterprises who are supporting those in need within the UK. There is a current focus on young people with caring responsibilities and young people caught up in the criminal justice system. Grants of up to £60,000 over two years are available to groups with an income of less than £1 million over the past three years. A maximum of £30,000 per year can be requested. The first funding round of 2022 is intended for young carers, and particularly:

  • Projects providing support to young carers who have fallen behind with their learning as a result of the impacts COVID-19 on their caring responsibilities.
  • Projects working in/with local schools to raise awareness of young carers and helping schools develop their approaches to supporting young carers.
  • Projects supporting young adult carers to continue in higher and further education and training.

The funding is not for standalone new projects, rather it is to support work that ‘amplifies the impact’ of existing work with young carers (up to the age of 25) and develops existing support around learning and access to education and training. The fund is open for applications until 6 May. Read more here.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) – Resilient Communities Fund: A total of £1 million is available for 2022, with grants ranging from £1,000 to £20,000, for projects which create a stronger, coordinated resilience framework for local communities. The fund is open to constituted not-for-profit groups based in a SSEN Distribution area in Central Southern England. A map is available in the fund guidelines and on the SSEN website. Projects must target one of the following priority areas:

  • Vulnerability – To protect the welfare of vulnerable community members through enhancing their resilience and improving community participation and effectiveness.
  • Resilience for Emergency Events – To enhance community facilities, services and communication specifically to support the local response in the event of a significant emergency event.


Grants will be awarded in September 2022; deadline to apply is 1 June 2022. Read more here.