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 in East Dorset & Purbeck: Energy Adviser for 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. The project aims to build financial resilience among vulnerable consumers and increase the likelihood of households being able to meet their heating requirements to stay warm and safe and avoid cold-related health problems.

  • Location: home based with travel to local CA offices across Dorset.
  • Salary: Based on scale 17 £24,491 per annum; Hours per week: 37.
  • Type of contract: Fixed term until 30th June 2022, with continuation likely.
  • Closing date: 5pm Tuesday 19th October 2021.
  • Interview date: 21st / 22nd Oct via Zoom.

Read more:

Bridport Citizens Advice: Advice Session Supervisor. Bridport and District Citizens Advice are looking to recruit a highly motivated and enthusiastic advice session supervisor to support a team of volunteers and paid staff. We provide high quality advice to around 2500 clients per year through telephone, face to face and digital channels.

  • Location: Based in Bridport Office.
  • Salary: £24,491 – £26,511 (gross FTE, pay band subject to experience); Hours per week: 18.75
  • Type of contract: Permanent
  • Closing date: 10.00 am Monday 8 November 2021
  • Interview date: Thursday 11 November 2021 (Location: Bridport office)

Read more:

Information updates

The OCTOBER FACT SHEET contains quite a few changes, as 30 September was something of a cliff edge:

The £20 Universal Credit (UC) uplift and Job Retention Scheme came to an end at the end of September. The UC cut will take effect for clients in the first assessment period that ends on or after 6 October 2021. It is estimated that over 5.5 million people are expected to be affected by the UC cut, added to which are higher energy prices and other worries…… These pages from the Citizens Advice website are a good starting point:

New Household Support Fund being launched: Vulnerable households across the country will be able to access a new £500m support fund to help them with essentials over the coming months as the country continues its recovery from the pandemic. Read the press release here. Schemes will be administered by local authorities.

ENERGY

Utility companies going bust: Over the past 2 months, 10 energy suppliers have gone bust, affecting more than 1.7 million customers. Ofgem’s general information is here, and they have appointed …

  • Octopus to take over Avro customer – read more here.
  • Shell Energy to take over Green customers – read more here.
  • E.ON Next to take over Enstroag customers – read more here.
  • E.ON Next tot take on Igloo customers – read more here.
  • E.ON Next to take on Symbio custmer – read more here.

NB: Consumers shouldn’t switch tariff or supplier until their account is moved to the new supplier as they might find it harder to get any money they’re owed if they switch before this happens.

Price Cap: This came in on 1 October, and the increase affects people on a default energy tariff, whether they pay by direct debit, standard credit or a prepayment meter. Ths price cap will be automatically applied by energy companies. Check if the energy price cap affects you on the Ofgem website.

BENEFITS

Working Tax Credits: If a Working Tax Credit claimant’s hours temporarily fell because of coronavirus, they have been treated as if they were working their normal hours. People in this situation do not need to tell HMRC if they re-establish their normal working hours before 25 November 2021, but from then, they must tell HMRC within the usual one-month window if they are not back to working their normal hours as shown in their Working Tax Credit claim. If people do not resume their normal hours, they may no longer qualify for WTC and may need to make a new claim for Universal Credit. Read the Govt press release here. For reporting a change to HMRC follow this link.

Post Office Card Accounts: Any tax credits, Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance customers who receive their benefits or payments via a Post Office card account have until 30 November 2021 to set up a new account and notify HMRC of the details so they can continue to receive their payments. Any suspended payments will be held and then paid to the customer once they notify HMRC of the new details. Read more here.

Payment Exceptions Service: Following on from the above, although the Govt announced that the Post Office Card Accounts would remain open for a further year, for people who will not be able to set up alternatives there is the Payment Exception Service> Pensioners and benefit claimants are able to choose how they receive their payments, and methods include the delivery of digital vouchers via:

  • a SMS
  • an email
  • a unique barcode displayed on a mobile phone

In addition, all customers who are migrated from POca to the new service will receive a reusable mag stripe plastic card, which can be used to receive their benefits in cash from more than 28,000 PayPoint retail outlets or 11,500 Post Office branches. Read more here.

HOUSING

Section 21 Notices for Assured Shorthold Tenants: Changes in notice periods over the last year have resulted in the prescribed Form 6a for section 21 notices being amended 3 times since 2 September 2020. Failure to use the version of the form which was current at the time of service could provide a defence to the notice. Advisers should therefore take particular care to check that the correct version of Form 6a has been used when checking the validity of a section 21 notice – this is the current Form 6a.

EMPLOYMENT

NHS Covid Pass and medical exemptions: The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has now published guidance here for obtaining an NHS COVID Pass medical exemption. The process involves having a medical professional confirm the reason for exemption but will appear the same as having full vaccination status on the pass, thus maintaining the privacy of the individual concerned.

OTHER

Suicide Prevention Resources: This link takes you to a useful leaflet that has been uploaded to DCA’s website.

Domestic Abuse Act 2021: Section 80 of the Act, which came into force on 1 October, stops healthcare professionals from charging a fee for providing documentary evidence of domestic abuse. Under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) legal aid is available for private family law matters (like children applications, divorce, financial remedies etc) if the applicant has experienced domestic abuse, subject to means and merits testing. Evidence of domestic abuse has to be provided and this can include evidence via a GP’s letter for which a charge could previously be raised. Read the Act here.

Scams – new 159 fraud hotline for financial scams: A potential victim who dials 159 will be automatically connected to their bank’s fraud prevention service. Anyone who receives a call or message from somebody claiming to be from a trusted organisation and who suggests money should be transferred is being urged to hang up and call 159. Read more on Stop Scams.

Events

October is Black History Month: More information and link to a resource pack here.

Sunday 10 October is World Mental Health Day: The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’. Read more here.

Policy in Practice: Information on webinars is here. This includes a recording of last week’s webinar on ‘how Autumn’s income shocks will affect low income families’.

Dorset Community Actions: Events and training are listed on Eventbrite.

Community Action Network – CAN [BCP]: Events and training are listed here.

Reports, research, blogs etc

Bureau of Investigative journalism – ‘Evicted in 10 minutes’: This report is based on sitting in on 555 recent court hearings for possession. They found that the reason for the brevity of hearings is because judges have no discretion to consider a defendant’s personal circumstances in the vast majority (86%) of cases. The report also highlights that the effect of the coronavirus pandemic was explicitly mentioned as a factor in one third of all cases where a possession order was granted. Read more here.

HMICFRS Report – Police response to violence against women and girls: A new report commissioned by the Home Secretary following the murder of Sarah Everard has been published by HM’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). The report reviews the police response generally to violence against women and girls, and recommends improvements to practice plus a new whole system approach including education and health services. Read more here.

Also on the HMICFRS website is a report from August 2021 on a local issue: Dorset Police needs to improve how it keeps vulnerable children safe, despite a clear commitment from its leaders to prioritising child protection.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting: The ‘break’ from annual reporting of gender pay gap data is due to end this year, with the deadline for submission being Tuesday 5 October. The legal duty only applies to employers with more than 250 employees. You can search for individual employers and companies here.

YMCA report – ‘Of Little Benefit’: Ending the Universal Credit uplift will disproportionately affect vulnerable young people in their housing, working and living experiences, according to YMCA research: government figures reveal the true extent of potential damage to some of the most vulnerable among the young people currently claiming Universal Credit if the £20 a week uplift is removed on 6 October. Read more here.

Citizens Advice blog – As price rises bite, how can we ensure people can afford to stay warm this winter? Citizens Advice think that the Govt should reverse course, and cancel its planned £20/week cut to Universal Credit and provide emergency grant support, which can be quickly deployed to provide extra to help people particularly affected by the rising cost of living. Read more here.

UC and Food Insecurity: Citizens Advice locally across Dorset and BCP have produced a report as part of their local contribution to the #Keepthelifeline campaign. This briefing paper explores the issues that occur with deductions, sanctions, and low benefit income levels, which often leads to claimants needing to use food banks. The paper has been sent to local MPs with the hope ​of bringing further attention to keeping the uplift. Read more:

Funding News

Youth Endowment Fund and Comic Relief are working together in this round which has a theme of ‘a supportive home – helping families to overcome challenges’. Grants are available to charities, public services or private sector organisations delivering programmes that help families and carers to create a supportive home environment for 6- to 14-year-old children (or children aged up to 18 years old if they are in the care system), reducing the likelihood of them becoming involved in violence.

The deadline is 1 December and they are running some application workshops (21 October, 8 and 25 November). Read more here.

The Morrisons Foundation awards grant funding for charity projects which make a positive difference in local communities. From support groups to children’s hospitals and homeless shelters to hospices, the grants aim to provide vital funding for good causes. Registered charities are eligible to apply. In the main, grants are available to fully fund projects up to £25,000.

NB: there are a lot of things that they won’t fund including salaries and general running costs. Read more here.

Reminder – BH Coastal Lottery deadline 17 October 2021: Small voluntary sector groups and organisations providing activities within Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole that meet the criteria can apply for a grant of up to £500.00. Projects must have strong volunteer / resident involvement. Read more here.