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.

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Information updates

BENEFITS

DWP retrospective ID Verification: As previously reported, under the Trust and Protect scheme, the DWP is verifying ID for around 900,00- UC claims made in 2020. Citizens Advice’s press release in May explained more about this process, and in a recent development it appears that some claimants are contacted on their online journal and are asked to verify their identity by taking a photo standing next to their street sign holding a local newspaper dated the same day. Questions were asked about the authenticity of the requests. Neil Couling (Change Director General and Senior Responsible Owner Universal Credit) tweeted So this is a temporary process, tailored for the restrictions we are still under. Eventually we will be able to return to interviews in Jobcentres in cases of doubt about identity. So there’s nothing to worry about here for claimants, they can engage with confidence.

IMMIGRATION

New style residence documents: There is a new style ‘British format’ biometric residence card and permit that you may be seeing. These replace the old pink ‘EU style’ versions. There is no need for those with old style cards to replace them, as those remain valid. Most will still have expiry dates no later than 2024, which is when the Home Office intends to move over to an all digital system of visas. You can see pictures of the new residence permits on this Home Office leaflet for financial providers.

Citizen Advice has recently updated it’s information on the right to work in the UK.

EU Settlement Scheme – Help still available from Citizens Advice BCP: The EUSS team are able to help all Dorset residents with Late Applications to the EU Settlement Scheme. They are also available to advise on issues surrounding the scheme; problems proving your right to work, to access housing or to benefits. They can advise on how to manage your status; how to upgrade from Pre Settled to Settled Status; and how to bring family members to the UK. Please contact the team directly using the below contact details, alternatively, ask your local Citizens Advice team to refer you.

  • Email: euss.advice@citizensadvicebcp.org.uk
  • Phone our Caseworkers: 07761 092704
  • Flyers can be printed:

RELATIONSHIPS

Divorce petitions – ‘unreasonable behaviour’: Whilst we are still awaiting a ‘no fault divorce’ procedure, currently someone applying for a divorce has to show that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. They must establish one of five facts, one of which can be unreasonable behaviour nad details have to be set out in the divorce petition. Recently a Family Court Judge has dismissed 28 separate divorce petitions which had identical wording as to the details of unreasonable behaviour; these petitions had been submitted by the same online divorce company, an unregulated provider. For guidance on wording there is a useful article on Adviser Online here.

If you haven’t used Adviser Online before, content is from Citizens Advice national experts, and it a useful source of guidance on many topics. Follow this link for the home page. There is also a recent article on compulsory vaccinations for care home staff.

DEBT

FCA – new Consumer Credit Leaflets from 25 October: Under section 86A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, lenders are required to include a copy of the relevant information sheet when notifying a consumer that they are in arrears or default. The new sheets are designed to provide more targeted and useful help to customers, particularly those with mental health issues. Read more on the FCA website.

ENERGY

Energy Companies going bust: Pure Planet, Daligas, Colorado Energy and GOTO Energy have ceased trading. Pure Planet, Daligas and Colorado customers are being switched to Shell Energy. We await details from Ofgem as to which company GOTO Energy customers will be moved to. The Ofgem website has a table with full information on suppliers of last resort for companies who have ceased trading, last updated 18 October. For more advice go to Citizens Advice – your energy supplier has gone bust..

Warm Homes Discount: Given the current problems in the energy market, we expect many WHD schemes to close early, so people need to check as soon as possible if they are eligible to apply for their supplier’s scheme. There is a list of participating suppliers on the Govt website, and we hope to have an updated list ready for the next E News.

A reminder: Recipients of the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit will receive a letter by mid-December advising whether the discount will be paid automatically by their energy supplier, or if they need to contact the WHD Helpline by 28 February 2022 to confirm their eligibility. The WHD Helpline opens on 18 October 2021 – Tel: 0800 731 0214.

OTHER

Information Commisioners Office (ICO) updated Code of Practice: The Information Commissioner’s new code of practice came into force on 5 October. The code has statutory force under the Data Protection Act 2018, and the ICO has enforcement powers. These are all outlined in the code.

Home insulation scam: Cornwall Trading Standards have reported on a scam where an elderly couple were told they could be fined £1,000 ‘by the government’ if they didn’t have insulation installed. With energy prices rising and winter on its way many people are looking at ways to improve the energy efficiency of their home. Unfortunately, this has provided an opportunity for rogue installers to pressure people into agreeing to work that is unsuitable for their property. We believe the firm concerned in this case may be based in Bournemouth……read more here.

Events

Charity Fraud Awareness Week, 18 – 22 October: Every charity, NGO and not-for-profit is susceptible to fraud and cybercrime by criminals exploiting the current global crisis. Charities need to be aware of the risks and take steps to keep their money, people and data safe. Find more information and resources here.

CAN – BCP – Volunteer Coordinators Meeting: 10am to 11am on Thursday 18th November via Zoom. This is open to anyone involved in the management of volunteers across the BCP area. In this session we will be looking at the ‘Recruitment and Management of Volunteers’. To book: Let Amy (amy.collins@can100.org) know if you would like to join and you will be sent the meeting link and password.

Research, reports etc

MaPS consultation on access to debt advice during the pandemic: The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) want to understand the effect that the closure of face-to-face public services during the Covid-19 pandemic has on the accessibility and delivery of debt advice in the UK. Whilst there was a drop in demand for debt advice at the start of the pandemic, anecdotally MaPS have heard that some groups who needed advice did not or could not access it due to the closure of the majority of face-to-face services as a result of government health guidelines. MaPS want to gather further insights on the impact of the closure of face-to-face debt advice services, particularly for those groups most at risk from financial shocks, and to identify the factors behind why some of these groups may not have accessed debt advice services during the period when face-to-face services were closed. Consultation deadline 29 October. Read more here.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities “supports communities across the UK to thrive, making them great places to live and work”. Their website is here. A recent report (English Housing Survey) shows that the proportion of private tenants in arrears in Spring 2021 was more than double the pre pandemic rate. The proportion of homeowners in mortgage arrears increased by 4 times in the same period.

Citizens Advice blog: From bad to worse — how will people cope with even higher energy prices next year? Analysts are forecasting that the price cap could rise again in April 2022 by £400/year to £1,660, for an average household. This could leave many falling into debt with their supplier. Earlier this year the government published proposals to improve the Warm Home Discount scheme – Citizens Advice says it should now urgently reassess these, and use the budget to put in place extra support from next April when price rises hit. Read more here.

Funding news

Postcode Lottery – The Dream Fund: This gives organisations ‘the chance to deliver the project they have always dreamed of, but never had the opportunity to bring to life’. The focus of this year’s Dream Fund will be projects that are looking to deliver systemic change in the following funding categories:

  • Environment/conservation.
  • Social inequality.
  • Pandemic recovery.


There is a total award fund of £3.5 million and charities can apply for up to £1.25 million for their project. Applications must come from partnerships of at least two charitable organisations. The application form will be open until 1 November at 5:30 pm. Read more here.

Didymus Fund: Applications are being accepted for grants of up to £5,000 for charities working in the areas of social inclusion, education, the arts, equality and diversity, and religious understanding.The aim of the fund is to support continuing projects, alongside developing new initiatives, and benefit people who are disadvantaged for whatever reason, and to build hope and enrichment of life. Deadline 2` December 2021. Read more here.

Veterans Foundation – Winter Projects: The Foundation offers grants of up to £30,000 to cover every aspect of social care including, homelessness, employability, poverty, disability, welfare issues, mental health, marriage guidance, care during old age and confidence building. The grants can be used to cover a range of project costs. The Foundation will also consider funding running costs of eligible organisations, provided sustainability is being considered.

Priority is given to charities and organisations who can demonstrate that they are directly involved in the provision of support to those in need, as well as well-run organisations of low to medium wealth. The final deadline for 2021 applications is 12 November for consideration in December 2021. Read more here.

The Arnold Clark Community Fund is open to all UK registered charities and local community groups also open to community interest companies, charitable incorporated organisations and social enterprises. Focusing on poverty relief, food banks, toy banks, housing and accommodation. Funding up to £1,000. Read more here.