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 (CAEDP) – Dorset Inclusivity Officer: The scope of this new contract, funded by Dorset Council, is to work with local businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the hospitality and retail sector, to implement a sustainable framework of inclusivity and accessibility across the Dorset Council area. The successful post holder(s) will manage the project, and will be employed by CAEDP, but will work on behalf of the three Dorset Local Citizens Advice to deliver this project.

Full time, initial 12 month fixed term, salary £25,926 pa, closing date 10 December 2021. read more here.

Citizens Advice BCP – Macmillan Cancer Support Welfare Benefits Caseworker: CitA BCP are currently looking to recruit a Welfare Benefits Caseworker to deliver specialist welfare benefits advice to cancer patients, their families and carers under Macmillan Cancer Support at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Wessex Cancer Trust outreach locations. The caseworker will provide a comprehensive, holistic welfare benefits advice service to clients referred to the project through agreed referral routes. This will be via home visits, office appointments, outreaches, telephone and email, adn includes undertaking casework on behalf of the client and representing them when necessary.

Hours: 30 hours per week; Salary: £22,998 (pro rata); Annual Leave: 25 days + Bank Holidays (pro rata). Closing date: 17 december 2021. Dan Stannard, Head of Training Development and HR.

Citizens Advice Central Dorset – two posts:

1: Kushti Bok Advocacy Worker: This is a new partnership project between Citizens Advice Central Dorset and
Kushti Bok to develop stronger links and give a voice to the Gypsy Roma and Traveller community. The Advocacy Worker will work with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community across Dorset to: Develop relationships with key communities across the county, provide information and advice on a range of issues, refer individuals to local Citizens Advice staff for more detailed advice and casework support where required, collect evidence of issues faced, and raise issues with relevant organisations..

Hours: 21 Hours per week (Flexible). Salary: £13.57 per hour (£14,818 Actual / £26,109 FTE). Location: Dorset County. Closing date: 6 January 2022. Read more:

2: Debt Supervisor: Closing date extended to 6 January 2022. Bridport, Central Dorset and East and Purbeck Citizens Advice are setting up a county-wide Debt Unit to improve the provision and quality of debt advice across the area, by providing technical support and guidance to advisers, and improved coordination of debt advice. The Debt Unit Supervisor is a role which requires both an understanding of the debt advice process, and the ability to set up, develop and coordinate a new unit.

Hours: 29 Hours per week. Salary: £13.57 per hour (£20,464 Actual / £26,109 FTE). Location: Remote (Home) and Dorset Council Area. Start Date: As soon as possible. Term: 9 Months. Read more:

Sexual Trauma and Recovery (STARS) – Adult Independent Sexual Violence Advisor ( ISVA ): STARS Dorset has been awarded additional funding to provide a dedicated ISVA to engage and support anyone affected by sexual abuse and focusing on older people throughout Dorset. The post is full time, offered on a Fixed Term Contract subject to additional funding. Salary range £21 – 23k. Closing date 16 December. More information here.

HomeStart West Dorset – Organiser- Family Support, 26 hours per week over 4 days, £22,183 -£25,991 pro rata (NJC 12-20) pro rata. Home-Start is a voluntary organisation committed to promoting the welfare of families with at least one child under 5 years of age. Volunteers offer regular support, friendship and practical help to families under stress in
their own homes helping to prevent family crisis and breakdown.

The Organiser will work on recruiting, training, supervising and supporting a team of Home-Start volunteers. The Organiser will also need to liaise closely with statutory and voluntary organisations. Parenting experience and an understanding of the needs of families is an essential requirement for this post. Experience of working with families or volunteers would be an advantage. Closing date 17 december 2021. More details:

Information updates

December Fact Sheet:

Covid19 – changes

Guidance on wearing facemasks: updated here as from 30 November 2021.

Travel: Return of the Red List of countries, and PCR tests on return.

BENEFITS

UC changes: The new regulations on work allowances and tapers came in from 24 November; there is a reduction in UC taper rate from 63% to 55% together with an increase in the lower work allowance from £293 to £335 pm and and increase in the higher work allowance from £515 to £557 pm. For claimants already entitled to Universal Credit on 24 November, the changes apply for any assessment period that ends on or after that date, so the earliest assessment period that could be affected will be from 25 October to 24 November. The Govt information here may be more user- friendly than the actual regulations…..

Post office card accounts and HMRC benefits: Payment of HMRC benefits into Post office card accounts were due to end in November 2021. An extension has now been agreed until 5 April 2022 – read the press release. (Note: payment of DWP benefits into Post office card accounts has already been extended to November 2022.)

EMPLOYMENT

Working safely during coronavirus: The Govt has updated its guidance here; it covers a range of different sectors, including those who have to visit other people’s homes.

Mandatory vaccinations for health care workers: From 1 April 2022, all employees working in sectors regulated by the Care Quality Commission who have face-to-face contact with service users, will be required to be vaccinated unless medically exempt. Read the press release here.

HOUSING

Possession proceedings: Most of the requirements of the temporary modification of the Civil Procedure Rules (PD55C) are coming to an end for claims for possession made before 30 November. However, the rule that a landlord must tell the court what they know about how coronavirus has affected the tenant, and the people they live with, remains in force until 30 June 2022. The Govt guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities is here. Shelter Legal provides detailed information on possession proceedings, and their general site has a good section on eviction, here.

DEBT

Mortgage lenders – possession claims: There is a temporary practice direction outlining the steps lenders must take as a result of the pandemic. For claims brought before 1 December 2021 PD55C remains in force, meaning:

  • claims brought before 3 August 2020 but not ‘reactivated’ by 30 April 2021 remain stayed unless the lender applies to lift the stay
  • lenders must serve a notice 14 days before the hearing, detailing any knowledge the lender has about the impact of the pandemic on the client and their dependants
  • the lender must bring 2 copies of the N123 mortgage protocol checklist to the hearing
  • the court doesn’t have to fix a hearing within 8 weeks of the claim being issued or reactivated

For claims brought between 30 November 2021 and 30 June 2022 only the second and third bullets above will apply.

ENERGY

Energy companies going bust: Bulb has 1.7 m customers so it will enter special administration – this means they’ll be able to operate as normal, so customers don’t need to do anything. Customers will continue to be on the same price cap tariff and if they get Warm Home Discount, will still get this from Bulb. Customers should: 

  • keep paying their direct debit as normal – don’t cancel it because Bulb will still supply their energy
  • top up their meter as normal if they have a prepayment meter
  • keep paying any repayments as normal, if they’ve got a repayment plan

Read the Ofgem statement on Bulb here.

And….Social Energy Supply Limited, Neon Reef Energy, Entice Energy and Orbit Energy have ceased trading. Customers for Social Energy and Neon are being transferred to British Gas, and Entice and Orbit to Scottish Power. Zog Energy also went out of business today – details awaited of who will take on their customers. Read more on the Ofgem website.

OTHER

EHRC race discrimination legal support scheme: People who experience discrimination can find it difficult to cover the costs of taking legal action. The EHRC says “We want to improve outcomes for victims of racial harassment and discrimination. We also want every employer and public service to understand their responsibilities and what the consequences are for not following the law”. Legal practitioners can now apply for support towards their clients’ cases – more details and application form to apply for financial support are here.

Events, training etc

International Day of People with Disabilities – Friday 3 December: The 2021 theme is ‘Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era.’ This year, we are celebrating the challenges, barriers and opportunities for people who live with disabilities, in the context of a global pandemic. Since March 2020, every person on earth has been impacted by drastic political, social and economic change as a result of domestic and international responses to COVID-19. This year, International Day of People with Disabilities should be used to recognise that people who live with disabilities are among the most affected populations amid the COVID pandemic…..read more here.

National Consumer Week launches on 6 December: This is an annual campaign which aims to raise people’s awareness of specific consumer issues, and provide support and advice for those who need it. Citizens Advice is a lead partner and says they will be encouraging people to “be wise to being green”. It’s important that we take steps to be more environmentally friendly, like making our homes more energy efficient and installing energy technologies like solar panels. It can save money in the long run, and it’s good for the environment. But people need to feel confident about making decisions so the campaign will raise awareness of how people can protect themselves from misleading energy efficiency and environmental claims, such as “green scams” and rogue traders.  Read more here.

Policy in Practice webinar – What next for post furlough employment support? Wednesday 8 December
09:30-11:00. The widely feared spike in unemployment due to the end of the Job Retention Scheme has not materialised as new research shows that over 86% of furloughed workers moved back into work. Though reduced, unemployment is still predicted to peak at over 5% this autumn and more than a million job vacancies exist in the economy. Guest speakers from different sectors join this webinar to explore the work that they are doing to help people into employment, and help them to progress once they are there. Register here.

Research, Reports, Blogs and Consultations

Universal Credit and childcare costs: The Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into Universal Credit and childcare costs amid concerns that the current system of childcare support creates barriers to parents moving into work or working more hours. The inquiry will examine how childcare support is paid and the impact of caps and limits on the amount of support available. It will also explore the effectiveness of advice about childcare support given to parents claiming UC and the efficiency of public funding of wider childcare support schemes. the deadline for submissions is 13 January 2022; read more and find the necessary links here.

Consultation on legal aid and housing possession proceedings: The government is consulting on a proposed new model for the delivery of housing possession legal aid. This aims to ensure the sustainability of the service and to improve the breadth and quality of advice available for individuals facing the loss of their home. The consultation is open until 20 January 2022.

Housing Ombudsman report on damp and mould: Social landlords should adopt a zero-tolerance approach to damp and mould, says this recent report. Addressing damp and mould needs to be a higher priority for landlords,, with a change in culture from reactive to proactive in order to improve the experience of residents. The Ombudsman report, ‘Spotlight on damp and mould – It’s not lifestyle’, examined 410 complaints investigated about 142 landlords over a two-year period, with maladministration found in 56%, rising to 64% for complaint handling alone. Read more here.

UC Sanctions: The number of UC sanctions plummeted following changes to conditionality rules in March 2020, due to the pandemic, However, following the reintroduction of conditionality and, from April 2021 face-to-face meetings in Jobcentres, they have surged.  In July 2021 there were 16,000 adverse sanction decisions. compared with under 2000 in n May 2021…..read more here.

Cost of Living Crisis: Citizens Advice latest research shows 1 in 10 families — equivalent to 3.2 million households — are facing a financial crisis this winter. They identify immediate steps government can take to ease the strain people are feeling and help them manage the tough winter months, including bringing forward uprating of benefit rates in line with inflation and pausing deductions from UC for money owed to the govt. Read the blog.

Funding News

Dorset Community Foundation – Neighbourhood Fund: The Neighbourhood Fund supports local charities and community groups in Dorset whose work addresses local issues, social problems, poverty and disadvantage due to age, illness, disability, isolation, discrimination or financial hardship. Grants of up to £5k.

Priority may be given to groups that work in partnership with other providers, involve service users in the design of services and invite feedback, and where the service/activities are easy to access with clear referral routes. Specific areas of interest include services which support older people and those with mental health issues.

Closing date: 14 January 2022. Read more here.

The National Lottery – The Jubilee Fund: The Platinum Jubilee celebrates 70 years of Her Majesty The Queen’s reign and to mark this occasion, The National Lottery Community Fund will fund 70 projects across the UK. Three areas of focus:

  • Across Generations – Strengthening relationships between generations and creating a legacy for future generations.
  • Community Renewal – Supporting new opportunities for people to develop skills and experiences in their local community, as well as opportunities to bring people together in new ways, and in new or different places and spaces.
  • Our Shared Natural World – Growing our care and action locally for the natural world.

TNL will prioritise applications from groups who:

  • have not received funding from us before
  • do not have a current award with us
  • are smaller or medium sized organisations or groups with an annual turnover of under £100,000
  • or are organisations that can demonstrate to us that they have significant reach into communities and are able to engage a large number of people to get involved
  • work in communities where there is a history of fewer funding opportunities.
  • work in areas where we know communities face challenging economic circumstances.

Deadline: 15 December 2021 at 5pm or once we receive 700 applications – whichever comes first. Read more here.