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). 

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.

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

Citizens Advice East Dorset & Purbeck is an innovative and successful advice service which offers confidential advice online, over the phone and in person, and is looking for an Energy Adviser to join the Fighting Fuel Poverty Project. The Adviser will be responsible for the delivery of energy advice to households who are claiming means tested benefits, in order to reduce fuel poverty.This service will be delivered through various channels including telephone and online support, with face to face and home visits once Covid 19 guidance allows. The post is part-time, based at home.

Salary: Based on scale 17 £24,491 per annum plus additional pension benefits. Hours per week: 37. Type of contract: Fixed term until 30th June 2022, with the possibility of an extension. Closing date: 10am Thursday 26th August 2021. More details:

Citizens Advice BCP – 2 roles:

Help to Claim adviser: Citizens Advice delivers a service called “Universal Support: Help to Claim” which offers end-to-end support to help people make a new Universal Credit claim and be ready for when their first payment arrives. We are looking for an adviser with good IT skills to support clients to make and complete their new Universal Credit claim. You will also need to demonstrate a commitment to the aims and principles of the Citizens Advice service.

30 hours per week, Fixed Term Contract from 6th September 2021 to 30 March 2022. Salary Scale 20-22 £19,430 – £20,661 pro-rata (based on experience). Closing date 3 September 20201. Read more:

Welfare Benefits Caseworker for St Ann’s Hospital: You will be responsible for the delivery of a high quality welfare benefits advice service for patients of St Ann’s Hospital. You will provide comprehensive advice, extensive casework and advocacy concerning welfare benefits. This will involve visiting patients in hospital wards, telephone calls and emails. You will be liaising with St Ann’s staff and will be based at Citizens Advice Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole and St Ann’s Hospital.

15 hours per week, Salary – Grade 20-22 (£19,819 to £21,074 – pro rata) (dependent on experience). Closing date 3 September.

For further information contact Dan Stannard.

STOP PRESS: two jobs at STARS (Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service): closing date 30 August for both.

  • Head of Children, Young People and Family Services: Full-time: 37hrs, Salary: £30,000, Based at either Poole or Dorchester, read more.
  • Head of Adult Counselling and Support Services: Full-time: 37hrs, Salary: £32,000. Based at either Poole or Dorchester. Read more.

Information updates

COVID CHANGES

Covid self-isolation from 16 August: People do not have to self-isolate if they are close contacts of people testing positive for Covid-19, as long as they have had both vaccinations at least 14 days before coming into contact with the positive case. People under the age of 18 years and 6 months also don’t have to self-isolate. More detail on the NHS website.

EMPLOYMENT

Coronavirus Job Retention scheme (CJRS): The scheme will be ending on 30 September 2021. Claims for September must be submitted by 14 October 2021 (and any amendments submitted by 28 October).   Read the updated HMRC guidance here.

Redundancy: The Govt guidance on redundancy, finding work, claiming benefits and managing debts has recently been updated here.

Driver’s hours rules [road haulage]: The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that the current relaxation of driving hours rules will be extended to 3 October 2021. This means, for example, an increase from 9 to 10 hours daily. Read more here.

BENEFITS

Ending of £20 UC Uplift: From 23 July, claimants have been receiving notifications via their online journal account advising that their claimant statement has been updated to show the reduction in the standard allowance from October. A letter from the DWP to Stephen Timms (Chair, Work & Pensions Committee) says “We will do further communications with claimants over the Summer via their statement and journal messages ahead of the uplift ending in the Autumn, making it clear that it will no longer be included in their standard allowance”.

DEBT

Individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) protocol: The Covid support in the IVA protocol which allows insolvency practitioners (IPs) to agree reduced or no payments without the need for a variation has been extended to 31 December 2021. The guidance does not apply to IVAs starting after 1 August 2021. The updated protocol is here.

IMMIGRATION

EU National – temporary protection: The Govt has announced ‘further reassurance to late applicants that the government will protect their rights until their application and any appeal is decided.’ Joining family members will also have temporary protection for 3 months after their arrival in the UK and pending the outcome of an EUSS application made during that period (and of any appeal). This should mean that late applicants to the EUSS will still have the right to work and rent if they have a pending late application. Read the announcement here.

Checking immigration status: People can now contact the Home Office about their immigration status if their access to work, benefits or services has been affected, and they believe this is because the immigration status held by the Home Office may be incorrect. The service is free and can be accessed here. There is also a way to ‘view and prove’ immigration status here.

OTHER

DWP news – the Post Office card account service ending in November [POca]: Customers can phone the DWP Customer Service centre on 0800 085 7133 (opening hours are 8.30am to 4.00pm, Monday to Friday) to provide new account details for their benefit or State Pension payments. All POca customers who are unable to provide a bank, building society or credit union account will be moved to the DWP voucher-based scheme called the Payment Exception service which provides access to payments via the PayPoint network. Payment Exception service payments can also be accessed via the Post Office network from the end of August 2021. Customers will start to be moved to the Payment Exception service from the end of August 2021 if they haven’t yet contacted DWP with new account details. More detail is on the Money Advice Service website here.

TV Licences: For people in financial difficulty, or who have missed payments, or been interviewed under caution because they don’t have a licence, the Simple Payment Plan may be a option:. Customers who qualify are able to choose from either a fortnightly or monthly payment plan that spreads the cost of a licence over 12 months, which is different to current payment plans. The Simple Payment Plan also offers flexibility if a payment is missed, as it can be spread across the remainder of the plan instead of having to pay double the amount next time.

Also for debt advisers putting someone into a Breathing Space: “For TV Licensing, Breathing Space only applies to arrears, not regular payments. During the Breathing Space the customer won’t receive a visit from TV Licensing. We will then work with the debt advisor to ensure that the customer is on the best payment plan to help them reduce the money (arrears) they owe. This is likely to be our Simple Payment Plan (SPP)”.

Public Health England – press release on drug overdoses: PHE has issued a warning of a sharp rise in the number of overdoses linked to people using drugs in several areas across England (including the south west), sadly resulting in a number of deaths. There are early signs that the overdoses may be caused by heroin mixed with a potent and dangerous synthetic opioid. Read the Press Release below:

Events

DWP – Shaping Future Support: the Health and Disability Green Paper – consultation events. This paper outlines the proposals to improve the experience of disabled people and people with health conditions using DWP services. The DWP are running a series of face-to-face and virtual events over the consultation period to hear from disabled people, people with health conditions, and their representatives, views on our proposals. The virtual events include:

  • Monday 6 September, 10 – 11.30: Re-thinking Assessments – this will seek views on alternative approaches to health & disability benefit assessments. Book on eventbrite.
  • Wednesday 22 September, 10 – 11.30: Employment Support. Book on eventbrite.

Dorset Community Action:

  • Training: Designing, monitoring and evaluation – a basic level course suitable for organisations just starting on monitoring their work.. Tuesday 7 September 2 – 4. £20/£30. Book on eventbrite.
  • Support webinar: latest government updates. Wednesday 8 September 11.30. Free. Book on eventbrite.
  • For other DCA events go to eventbrite.

Reports, research, blogs, etc

Resettlement scheme for Afghan nationals: The government has released a fact sheet on UK support to resettle Afghan nationals. One change to the system after recent events is that people can apply from outside Afghanistan. There has also been an announcement that a further 20,000 refugees will be resettled over 5 years. Read the factsheet here.

Pre-settled status and accessing benefits: This article on The Conversation website reports on a recent case which went to the Court of Justice for the European Union. An EU national challenged as discriminatory the rule that someone with pre-settled status needed to demonstrate another ‘right to reside’ in order to claim benefits. The European Court has upheld the UK courts ruling; this is different from the Fratila decision previously mentioned in this bulletin. It also presents an interesting conundrum in that EU law remains relevant in the UK despite Brexit as the facts in this case arose before the transition period ended so the court’s judgment is binding throughout the UK. The article goes on to say:

This case now presents a peculiar possibility. The UK government will probably argue, in a counterintuitive about-face, that EU law should be applicable in the UK, and that the supreme court should disregard UK national courts in favour of listening to the wisdom of the CJEU.

They also suggest that going forward people may have to challenge the refusal of benefits on a case-by-case basis.

ACAS poll on time off work to get vaccinated: New research by Acas has found that a quarter of British employers have not been giving their staff paid time off for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations and have no plans to allow it. Acas advice is that employers should support staff to get the vaccine once it is offered to them, and this could include ensuring employees have paid time off for COVID-19 vaccine reasons. Read more here.

Ministry of Justice statistics on mortgage and landlord possession actions for the period April to June 2021: The statistics indicate that both landlord and mortgage possession actions across England and Wales have increased by over 100% compared to the same period in 2020. The figures are still significantly below the levels during the pre-Covid period. Read more here.

Co-op Community Wellbeing Index: This is based on ‘conversations with people….about what makes their communities tick’ and gives an insight into what’s important to people in a local community, from the quality of education, housing affordability, and public transport – to the amount of green space and the number of community centres in an area. The Co Op have gathered data for over 28,000 communities across the UK, to understand how they score across these and many other wellbeing measures. These results may be useful to you if you are planning a project or seeking funding. Read more here.

Energy Cap rises – Citizens Advice press release: New analysis from Citizens Advice shows how rising energy bills will coincide with Universal Credit cuts this autumn, creating a perfect storm for families. The charity’s research is released as Ofgem announces £139 rise in default tariffs and £153 increase for prepayment meter customers.  The rise which takes effect in October will hit family budgets just at the same time as the government’s planned cut of £20 a week to Universal Credit, which is set to affect six million households. It will also coincide with the end of the furlough scheme, which the charity warns could lead to further job losses and more families being pushed onto benefits. Read more here.

Another useful Citizens Advice press release is entitled Universal Credit Cut: everything you need to know. This summarises the implications of the ending of the £20 uplift, which will begin to effect people from 6 October, and the article includes tips on getting other help. Read more here.

Funding news

BCP Living Legacy Fund: This new fund has been established by Dorset Community Foundation in partnership with BCP Council and is designed to attract other private funders, philanthropists and donors who have a shared interest in supporting BCP communities. The Fund will support services and activities that help to achieve outcomes contained within the BCP Corporate Plan. In this first round it will prioritise applications supporting the recovery and strengthening of local communities following the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on:

  • isolation & loneliness
  • poverty
  • health & wellbeing

Grants of up £5000 are available and should be spent within 12 months. Closing date 10 September. They aim to distribute grants to successful applicants by the end of October. Read more here.

BCP Youth Fund: A fund for young people, managed by young people
Local organisations providing services for children and young people aged up to 18 (up to 25 for those with SEND or care leavers) in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole can apply for funding of up to £10,000 for projects which will make a positive difference to young people’s lives.

Groups, including local charities, business, statutory services and voluntary organisations, can apply to receive funding for initiatives which will make a tangible difference, providing new experiences to local young people. The aim of the funding initiative is to help the youth-led BCP Youth Forum achieve their core aim of providing young people the chance to have access to skills, resources and opportunities to give back to society.

The closing date is 24 September and the proposed project will need to be ready to run from October 2021. Successful applicants will be able to showcase the success of their project at a special event in March 2022. Read more here.

Safer Dorset Fund – Operation Relentless Community Fund- ASB: The Police & Crime Commissioner has launched this new scheme as part of his initial 100 days in office. The the purpose of the scheme is to support local projects and initiatives that reduce ASB and increase public feeling of safety in areas disproportionately affected by ASB. Applications from Community Groups, Charitable Organisations and Community Interest Companies can apply. Projects and Initiatives can be funded that:

  • Address and deliver the desired outcome for the round (Reducing Anti-social Behaviour).
  • Deliver a real, lasting difference to the area.
  • Has a local focus.
  • Can be delivered within the grant term.

Applications from £100 up to a maximum of £5,000 will be considered. Closing date 4 October 2021. Read more here.