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 will be 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:email@example.com
Reminder……. ADVICE DORSET PARTNERSHIP – STRATEGY 2020-24: The Strategy is a short document setting out our aspirations for the period 2020-24. Given the current situation the Introduction covers how the advice sector and other VCSE colleagues have worked with local authorities and others, contributing knowledge and resources to ensure an effective and speedy response to the Covid-19 crisis; we also highlight advice issues that are likely to emerge as we move into the recovery. period. It’s a short read – and we really appreciate any comments or feedback you have – thank you:
Scams Awareness fortnight STARTS Monday 15 June
The Citizens Advice annual Scams Awareness campaign aims to create a network of confident, alert consumers who know what to do when they spot a scam. This year’s campaign will take place over two weeks, from the 15-28 June. We’ll be focusing on raising awareness of the scams that have emerged as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. There are four important things that people can do if they suspect they’re the target of a scam:
- If payment or banking details are involved in the scam the person’s first step should be to contact their bank or credit card company. If the scam is a pension transfer, they need to contact the provider immediately, along with the Pensions Advisory Service.
- Get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133. You can also get advice and information online at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/sa20. The Citizens Advice consumer service can also report problems to Trading Standards for you. Trading Standards are responsible for protecting consumers and the community against rogue and unfair traders.
- Report scams and suspected scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime.
- Tell family, friends, neighbours so that they can avoid scams and find out how to protect themselves.
Poster and Postcard can be printed and displayed:
Carers Week: 8 – 14 June: Although we’re coming to the end of this week, there are useful resources out there to support people. Carers UK research has found that 4.5 million additional people are caring for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives or friends since the Covid-19 pandemic started. Read more: https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/campaigns/carers-week
FURLOUGH & SEISS SCHEMES: Changes, dates and deadlines
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing: From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the grant for furloughed hours employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.
The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full 3 week period prior to 30 June.
This means that the final date by which an employer needs to agree with their employee and ensure they place them on furlough is 10 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.
Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be published on 12 June.
Thw Self Employed Income Support Scheme will be extended – with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,570
Read more on both schemes here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-self-employment-support-scheme-and-confirms-furlough-next-steps
Ban on Rent Evictons extended: The Govt has announced that the stay on eviction proceedings which was due to run out on 25 June has been extended by 2 months until 23 August. If a landlord wants to take possession action they’ll still need to give at least three months notice before starting proceedings. Clients who are struggling to pay rent should speak to their landlord as soon as possible to let them know their situation and work out a repayment plan. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ban-on-evictions-extended-by-2-months-to-further-protect-renters
TAX CREDITS: People continue to be able to stay on Working Tax Credit if their hours reduce eg. under the Furlough system (but not if their job ends). People in this situation may experience a significant drop in income, but their options are complicated! The Low Income Tax Reform Group have summarised this well:
Tax credits are based on annual household income. Up to 5 April 2020, we were in the 2019/20 tax year, and your award was either based on an estimated 2019/20 income or your 2018/19 income. During the year if your income falls, you can usually give a new estimated income to HMRC. Whether this leads to an increase in your award depends on whether your household income for 2019/20 fell by more than £2,500 compared to your previous year income (in 2018/19). If the reduction in your income was less than £2,500, then there will be no change to your award for 2019/20. However, now that the new tax year has started on 6 April 2020, you should be sure to give HMRC an updated estimated income for 2020/21 so they can see if your award for 2020/21 can be adjusted. You must remember that this is about annual income and be careful not to over-estimate any fall in income as if you do there may be an overpayment at the end of the year.
They also add teh following WARNING: If you are already in receipt of tax credits and find yourself needing extra financial support, for example you need to claim help with paying your rent, you may need to claim universal credit (UC). If you do this, your tax credit claim will end and it is unlikely you will be able to go back to tax credits at a later date.
CPAG also covers this topic: https://askcpag.org.uk/content/201050/tax-credits-and-coronavirus
ENERGY AND TELECOMS support for vulnerable clients
Energy companies are encouraged to introduce a range of support including: payment breaks, reduced repayments, and time to pay. Suppliers should not disconnect credit meters during the pandemic. There’s also help for prepayment customers. Money saving expert have information for specif comaplnies; https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/#energy
For telecoms, the govt agreed commitment with the UK’s major internet service and mobile providers, namely BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM:
- All providers have committed to working with customers who find it difficult to pay their bill as a result of Covid-19 to ensure that they are treated fairly and appropriately supported.
- All providers will remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.
- All providers have agreed to offer some new, generous mobile and landline packages to ensure people are connected and the most vulnerable continue to be supported. For example, some of these packages include data boosts at low prices and free calls from their landline or mobile.
- All providers will ensure that vulnerable customers or those self-isolating receive alternative methods of communication wherever possible if priority repairs to fixed broadband and landlines cannot be carried out.
COVID-19 TESTING: useful Govt summary – explains the difference between:
- Testing and sampling kits
- Coronavirus and antibody testing
- Products consumers could buy and those for healthcare professional use only
CAN Briefing: return to work/HR issues. A few places are still available for those in the BCP area for this event, running as part of Small Charities week, on Tuesday 16th June 9-9:45am. A Zoom session will cover some of the key areas of people management which will need to be considered at this time – supporting employees and their welfare; communication and consultation – especially regarding risk assessments, varying contracts of employment, restructuring, or considering redundancies; flexible working; furlough and annual leave; equality considerations; and managing performance and other employee issues. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/covid-19-return-to-work-and-hr-issues-tickets-107064342330?ref=estw
Stop Loan Sharks training – community safety, financial & mental well-being: The purpose of loan shark training is to provide information and knowledge about the issue, how it relates to your work and how we can help those who have borrowed from illegal lenders. The length of the online session is approximately one hour.
We will include key things to look out for as a sign that a friend, client or colleague may be involved with a loan shark. We will show the impact that illegal lenders have on victims and communities and how we can work together to stop people falling into the clutches of criminals.
Online session: Friday 19 June 10-11.30. To register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/stop-loan-sharks-training-community-safety-financial-mental-well-being-tickets-108433278856?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch
Policy in Practice webinars: 17 June on data analytics, 1 July on ‘surplus earnings’ for the self-employed. Details: http://policyinpractice.co.uk/events/
Dorset Community Action webinars – recent webinars on various topics to support your organisation, available here: https://www.dorsetcommunityaction.org.uk/support-webinars-during-covid-19/
The Foyle Foundation’s Small Grants Scheme re-opened on 1 June. grants of £1k – £10k, to support charities registered and operating in the UK, especially those working at grass roots and local community level, in any field, across a wide range of activities. Please note they are not able to support individuals.
Online applications can be accepted from charities that have an annual turnover of less than £150,000 per annum. Larger or national charities will normally not be considered under this scheme. They will offer one-year grants only to cover core costs or essential equipment, to enable ongoing service provision, homeworking, or delivery of online digital services to charities that can show financial stability.
Priority will be to support local charities still active in their communities which are currently delivering services to the young, vulnerable, elderly, disadvantaged or the general community either directly or through online support if possible. Read more: http://www.foylefoundation.org.uk/small-grants-scheme/
Co-op Local Community Fund: Closing date 28 June. Projects must either:
- bring the community together to help those in need, providing access to life’s essentials such as community spaces, food and bereavement support
- support the mental and physical health of others through community wellbeing activities
- enable people to develop or share their skills to foster community spirit and build resilient communities for the future
Your project or event must also:
- take place in the UK or Isle of Man
- not have religious or political aims (although you can still apply if you’re a religious organisation)
- meet the Co-op’s values
- take place or will still be running after November 2021
- benefit your local community