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 Purbeck: Energy Adviser to join the Fighting Fuel Poverty Project which runs across Dorset (both Council areas). 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. The role is home based with travel to local Citizens Advice offices across Dorset

Salary: Based on scale 17 £24,491 pro rata per annum
Hours per week: 15
Type of contract: Fixed term until 30th June 2022, with the possibility of an extension.
Closing date: 10am Monday 4th October 2021. Interview date: 7th / 8th Oct via Zoom.

Read more:

Citizens Advice Central Dorset: Two posts available.

1: Foodbank – welfare benefits and debt caseworker: This is a new partnership project between Citizens Advice Central Dorset and Gillingham Foodbank, and will reach out to those most in need in the Gillingham community by providing timely advice, information and support, particularly in the areas of welfare benefits and debt. The caseworker will attend the Foodbank on two mornings per week to work directly with those accessing its services. The successful candidate will be an experienced adviser who is used to working in partnership to produce positive outcomes for our clients.

Hours: 10 Hours per week / 2 mornings a week
Salary: £13.30 per hour (£6,916 Actual / £25,589 FTE)
Location: Gillingham, Dorset

Closing date: 21 October 2021. Read more:

2: Benefits and debt casewoker – Rough Sleepers Initiative: Citizens Advice Central Dorset are looking to recruit a Caseworker for the Rough Sleepers Initiative (RSI). We are looking for an experienced caseworker who can provide a flexible approach to the needs of our clients and are able to deliver comprehensive advice through various channels including face to face.
Dorset Council Area – Flexible Support Adviser
Hours: 15 Hours per week (0.4fte)
Salary: £12.95 per hour (£10,101 Actual / £24,916 FTE)
Location: Dorset Council Area

The position covers the Dorset Council area, has an immediate start date and is a temporary contract until 31st March 2022. Read more:

Information updates

COVID RELATED INFORMATION

Government’s Autumn & Winter Covid response: This response (dated 14 Sept) sets out the plans for the next few months, saying that Over autumn and winter, the Government will aim to sustain the progress made and prepare the country for future challenges, while ensuring the National Health Service (NHS) does not come under unsustainable pressure. The Govt plans to achieve this by:

  • Building our defences through vaccines and treatments
  • Identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission
  • Supporting the NHS and social care
  • Advising people on how to protect themselves and others
  • Pursuing an international approach: helping to vaccinate the world and managing risks at the border

End of Covid support: The government’s Covid-19 support for businesses – including the furlough scheme – comes to an end on 30 September. Advisers could be faced with a significant increase in redundancy cases as well as other cost-saving initiatives such as changing contractual terms and conditions, temporary lay-offs etc.

Shielding: The shielding programme has now ended, so people who were previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) will not be advised to shield in the future or follow specific national guidance. The people this applies to will receive a letter informing them of these changes in more detail and providing further information on available support. Read more here.

Universal Credit £20 per week uplift: This ends on 7 September. The last assessment period in which the uplift will apply will therefore be from 6 September to 5 October. There is information for people worried about how they will cope with this cut, on the Citizens Advice website.

Housing – The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies and Notices) (Amendment and Suspension) (England) Regulations 2021: These have been amended to return notice periods to their pre-coronavirus position from 1 October 2021. However the powers introduced by the Coronavirus Act 2020 are retained, to provide for the possibility that notices could be extended again if necessary.  Read updated information on the Shelter website.

Covid-19 related Carer’s Allowance easements ended: The DWP continued to pay Carer’s Allowance despite changes to patterns of care forced upon carers by circumstances beyond their control during Covid. A relaxation of rules around breaks in care and recognition of emotional support was initiated in March 2020. These Carer’s Allowance easements ceased to apply after 31 August 202

One off Covid-19 payment for Working Tax Credit (WTC) claimants:
HMRC has confirmed that a further 23,000 WTC claimants will receive the Covid-19 one-off payment of £500 in September during an additional phase of payment. These payments will be made to claimants where finalisation reveals that they met the eligibility criteria for the one off payment on 2 March 2021 but didn’t qualify under the scheme set out in the initial Direction. Read more on Rightsnet.

Back to school / college etc: the Govt has updated its guidance on what parents/carers need to know ahout early years providers, schools and colleges – here.

New system for international travel: From 4 October 2021 – read more here.

Mandatory COVID vaccinations in care homes: The 16 September deadline for workers to receive their first vaccination has now passed, and in the meantime the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published an open letter to care home employers, agencies and managers, outlining a procedure for temporary self-certification on grounds of medical exemption. The temporary self-certificate will expire 12 weeks after the launch of the NHS Covid Pass, after which time staff will need to seek a formal medical exemption.

ENERGY

If your energy supplier goes bust: The gas and electricity regulator, Ofgem, will move you to a new supplier. This usually takes a few weeks. Read more on Citizens Advice. Wait for your new supplier to contact you. They’ll explain what will happen with your account. Contact your new supplier if you don’t hear from them within 2 weeks. You can check who’s taken over your energy supply if you’re not sure who your new supplier is. For more detailed help people can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.

Further information, including details about appointing a Supplier of Last Resort, are in this Ofgem blog.

See also below for a link to a recent Blog and press release on this subject.

Also on energy, here is a nice clear explanation of the price cap: The energy price cap applies to people who are on a default tariff, however they pay for their energy. It doesn’t apply to fixed-term tariffs or green energy tariffs. It is set by Ofgem and limits the rates a supplier can charge, including the standing charge and price of each kWh of electricity and gas. It doesn’t limit the total bill – actual bills will depend on usage. Energy companies automatically apply the price cap to people on a default tariff.

ECHO (Emergency Central Heating Offer): This is a funded heating scheme that offers emergency assistance to qualifying households to repair or replace broken or condemned gas boilers. Qualifying criteria include: having a low income, health conditions, receipt of certain benefits, and a broken boiler. Read more on the Ridgewater Energy website.

DEBT

Debt Management Vulnerability Toolkit: This is designed to help public sector creditors support their vulnerable customers. It provides front line staff with best-practice tools to identify and assist people facing physical and mental challenges, so recovery can focus on those who are deliberately trying to avoid repaying their debts. Read more here.

BENEFITS

Sanctuary scheme and under-occupancy (‘bedroom tax’): Regulations come into force on 1 October which allow for an exception where the claimant lives in social sector rented accommodation that has been adapted under a ‘sanctuary scheme’ following domestic violence. If the exception applies, the claimant can under-occupy their property without a deduction. Read the guidance here.

OTHER

Post Office account closures: The Government is delaying the closure of Post Office card accounts used to receive benefit payments. The move has been pushed back to November 2022 to allow more people to switch to basic bank accounts.

Events

NEA – Warm Homes Week, 27 – 30 September: From their websiteAs well as considering the impact of the coming winter, energy policy is fast evolving and the goal to reach Net Zero is a key focus. The conference will focus on how ending fuel poverty can complement achieving this monumental goal. We will be running four morning webinars with plenary sessions followed by fringe and spotlight sessions in the afternoons.

Dorset Community Action training – How to put a safeguarding policy in place. Thursday 7 October, 1.30; free. Increasingly, funders are asking for organisations to have a safeguarding policy and procedure in place. This session covers:

  • Why a safeguarding policy is important and what it covers
  • the steps you need to take to draft, implement and adopt a safeguarding policy
  • what training you will need for your volunteers, staff and Trustees
  • templates for the policy and procedures.

Book here.

Policy in Practice webinar – How Autumn’s income shocks will hit low income families: Weds 29 September 10.30 – 11.45. Register here.

Community Action Network [CAN] BCP: A range of events and training courses are on their website here including ‘meet the funder’ webinars and a course on Fundraising Strategy and Diversification.

Illegal Money Lending Team training: (Stop Loan Sharks – see also link to their latest newsletter below). NB other dates are available.

  • Session 1: Could you spot an illegal lender? Thursday 7 October 10.30 – 12. Book here.
  • Session 2: Changing Lives – A borrower’s journey and the part you play. A continuing learning opportunity for those who have already received Stop Loan Sharks training. Thursday 28 October 10.30 – 12. Book here.

Research, reports, blogs etc

Citizens Advice on the current energy crisis

  • Protecting people during energy market turbulence: This blog outlines how people are protected, but also what else may need to be done [22 September].
  • Citizens Advice urges government against Universal Credit cut as energy prices surge: Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said on 20 September: “This is a hugely unsettling time for millions of energy customers. It’s particularly worrying for many on the lowest incomes who’ll be facing the double whammy of rising fuel bills and a benefits cut”. Read more here.

Gambling updates: The Gambling Commission is a good source of information and data – here is the link to their latest ebulletin (20 September). Below is a House of Commons briefing paper providing information on how gambling is currently advertised and regulated

Stop Loan Sharks: The summer newsletter includes an update on latest court cases, arrests, community projects and the launch of our new social media toolkit for credit unions. Read more here.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Press release, here, on what does a ‘very difficult winter’ look like for low income families?

Funding News

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – Loneliness Engagement Fund: The objective of the Fund is to reach the groups in England most affected by loneliness during COVID-19 with communications and engagement activity that will help reduce feelings of stigma and encourage people to take steps to help themselves and others.

Grants available of between £15k and £50k. Organisations must have a track record of delivering effective communications and engagement activity at a national level and a proven reach and track record of engaging with one or more of the target groups:

  • Young people aged 16-24.
  • People with diagnosed mental health conditions.
  • People living alone.
  • People from lower income households.
  • Unemployed people.
  • Disabled people.

Closing date 13 October. Read more here.

REMINDER – Wessex Water Community Fund: This is now open – grants of up to £3k for activity which

  • Supports people in financial difficulty or those who lack access to services
  • Takes place in areas of multiple deprivation or rural isolation
  • Helps build stronger, more resilient communities
  • Helps people manage or avoid debt, including raising awareness and take up of utility affordability support, such as the Wessex Water schemes, among those who need it most
  • Educates and supports people of all ages to take steps to build financial capability, money management and household budgeting skills.

Closing date 22 October – read more here.

KFC Foundation community grants programme: This will provide support for charities, clubs and community groups who seek to address the needs of socially disadvantaged young people and help them unlock their talent, build life skills, and help them create a positive future. Grants of between £200 and £2,000 are available for projects which:

  • Benefit young people aged 11-25 years old.
  • Support those in a position of social disadvantage, such as experiencing homelessness, young carers, young parents, or young people at risk.
  • Provide safe spaces for young people and provide, training, skills and mentoring towards gainful employment.

Applications are invited from organisations with an annual turnover of less than £300,000, in communities where KFC restaurants are located. Deadline for applications: 28 February 2022. Read more here.

Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust: At this time of crisis, JRCT is keen to support work that responds to the dual harms of the Covid-19 pandemic and systemic racism. Specifically, we wish to encourage work within or across our existing programme areas that scrutinises the responses and policies of powerful institutions and actors, and which envisions and builds support for transformative social change based on justice, peace and sustainability.

They have five funding streams currently open – read more here.