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).
During the Covid-19 outbreak we are usually publishing a weekly E News to keep you updated on information you may need for your clients/service users (benefits, rights for the self-employed, other financial help, support services, and anything else we hope may be of use…….).
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 Doset email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Citizens Advice Central Dorset is currently advertising two roles, closing date for applications – 27 August.
Energy Advice Caseworker: 7 hours/week, annual salary £4,375 pa, fixed term until 31 March 2021, covering Sherborne and Gillingham areas.
Advice Session Supervisor (peripatetic): 37 hours/week, annual salary £25,589, to cover Weymouth, Dorchester, Sherborne and Gillingham offices (flexible). Fixed term to 31 March 2021.
Covid-19 Information Updates
Employment Rights Act 1986: new regulations for calculating notice and redundancy pay. These provide that from 31 July 2020 workers dismissed by reason of redundancy, are entitled to the calculation of Statutory notice and redundancy pay based on ordinary earnings rather than the reduced furlough rate of pay.
The regulations do not apply to payments that pre-date 31 July, and for workers already in receipt of notice/redundancy pay calculated at the reduced furlough rate, the advice is to raise a grievance (and seek more specialist guidance).
For employees that have wages that vary, or who have no normal working hours, pay is normally averaged over the last 12 weeks to calculate statutory entitlement. The new Regulations say that where the 12 week calculation period includes at least one week on furlough pay, the 12 week average should be based on normal earnings, i.e to discount the period of reduced furlough pay and substitute earlier working weeks. Follow these links for information on the Citizens Advice website and the Regulations themselves.
‘Shielding’: From 1 August those shielding can no longer claim Statutory Sick Pay on this basis. However, government guidance is that in local lockdown areas: “If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable and live in an area where additional public health measures require you to resume shielding, the government will write to you and advise you to stay at home and shield.” SSP entitlement can therefore continue on the basis of shielding “if you’re unable to work from home or a location outside the lockdown area” . Read the updated Government guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19
Local lockdown areas can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-restrictions-areas-with-an-outbreak-of-coronavirus-covid-19
Benefit overpayments and Social Fund loans are once again being recovered from Universal Credit. Claimants will be informed through letters or via their UC journal. Those facing ‘real financial hardship’ can request a further deferral to their payment by contacting the Debt Management line on 0800 916 0647. For Advance Payments claimants can request on their Journal that deductions are deferred for 3 months if they will cause ‘financial hardship’; they can also try asking for the rate of deduction to be reduced. Shelter has a good summary of information on these issues:
ESA and Mandatory Reconsiderations: A recent high court ruling has successfully challenged the DWP: Claimants for employment support allowance (“ESA”) should continue to receive ESA despite a negative DWP decision, while they are seeking a mandatory reconsideration.The judge asked the DWP to explain why ESA wasn’t payable during review, even though it would be once the appeal was started. The DWP sent him written submissions, but “none of this further information provides the answer”, said the judge. Below is one review of this case though we are not yet sure when it becomes law…. ….
Pension credit: DWP’ s recent Touchbase reminded us of the government’s Pension Credit toolkit (link below); now more than ever we need to ensure those eligible claim. as over 75s not on PC are now having to pay for their TV licenses. There’s also a link to the TV Licensing website:
UK Visa and Citizen Application Service: Service points are re-opening; Southampton is already open and Bournemouth should re-open shortly. Read more: https://www.ukvcas.co.uk/flash-message-detail?flashmessageId=56249
Black Lives Matter: Recent events in the USA and elsewhere have
highlighted the continuing preavlence of racism and brutality. Dorset Race Equality Council have written to many organsations asking you to tell them what you and your organisation is doing differently to combat racism and promote diversity and equality. Here is the letter:
Pensionwise service: The impact of the pandemic could mean that some people may be considering accessing their pension savings to help with issues like debt, furlough or redundancy. If you’re helping clients in this situation please make them aware of Pension Wise which is delivered by Citizens Advice specialists. It offers free, impartial guidance to people over 50 with a workplace or personal pension to help them understand their options. Below is a link to general information; Cit Advice BCP have a team available to help people across Dorset and BCP. You can call 0800 138 3944 to book an appointment.
Reports and Briefings
DWP – safeguarding vulnerable people: The DWP safeguarding policy has has come under the limelight recently when the Secretary of State was questioned on 17 July. Follow this link to the committee report, which also includes links to other evidence such as a National Audit Office report from earlier this year: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/164/work-and-pensions-committee/news/147459/secretary-of-state-questioned-on-safeguarding-vulnerable-people/
1 year of our #ScamsAction service: In July 2019, Citizens Advice set up a new #ScamsAction service to help people who’ve been the victim of an online scam. So far over 45,000 people have been helped, with a wide variety of scams – online dating, visas, ID checks, etc. Read more: https://wearecitizensadvice.org.uk/1-year-of-our-scamsaction-service-a6e6fe393805
And advice is available 24/7 on: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/get-help-with-online-scams/
On-line Training from the Illegal Money Lending team:
Could you spot a loan shark? The purpose of loan shark training is to provide information and knowledge about the issue, how it relates to your work and how we can help those who have borrowed from illegal lenders. We will include key things to look out for as a sign that a friend, client or colleague may be involved with a loan shark. We will show the impact that illegal lenders have on victims and communities and how we can work together to stop people falling into the clutches of criminals.
Sessions on 28 August, 15 and 22 September (approx 1 hour staring 10.30); link to booking on the first two as follows:
A continuing learning opportunity for those who have already received Stop Loan Sharks training. This is an additional learning tool for those that already know the basic facts about loan sharks. Learn about the implications and facts around reporting or not reporting for your business and staff; Learn about victim safety, Data Protection issues and how to help victims open up about their situation. The length of the session is approximately one hour. Sessions on 4, 17 and 24 September – lnk for the first 2;
Round 5 of the Dorset Council Community Impact Fund (Coronavirus Support) has now launched. Groups and organisations can apply for up to £5,000 (if they are constituted). New and emerging groups who have been in existence for less than 12 months but who perhaps don’t have the normal governance in place can apply for up to £1,000 provided they have someone who will endorse their application and manage the funds on their behalf.
The fund closes midnight on Sunday 20th September . Decisions will be made at the end of August and again at the end of September.
Applications are online this year and there is a link to the application form on the webpage. They can only support activities/projects that are to be delivered in the Dorset Council area. Follow the link to the webpage(s) which have comprehensive details about the funds priorities, funding criteria and eligibility.
Lloyds Bank Foundation Covid Recovery Fund: From conversations with small and local charities and the wider sector, we know that to be able recover from this health crisis charities need unrestricted funding and the space and support to adapt their organisational, income generation and service delivery models which have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.
To meet these needs, our COVID Recovery Fund will offer around 140 charities a two-year unrestricted grant of £50,000 alongside a Development Partner to help charities navigate a tumultuous future. read more: https://www.lloydsbankfoundation.org.uk/we-fund
People’s Postcode Lottery: various funding opportunites, most close on 19 August. Read more: https://www.postcodetrust.org.uk/apply-for-a-grant/
News from The National Lottery Community Fund: If you’re planning to apply for the Government allocation of funding to the Coronavirus Community Support Fund you must apply by 12 noon on 17 August 2020. The fund will close on this date. We should be finished distributing these funds by the end of October 2020.
After this, you can still apply for emergency National Lottery funded grants in England to help your community through COVID-19. We will be focusing on funding for organisations supporting people and communities who experience disproportionate challenge and difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, specifically for user-led equality groups supporting:
- black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee (BAMER) communities
- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer + (LGBTQ+) communities
- disabled people.
This is for six months’ emergency funding, for small and medium organisations and for between £300 and £100K. Other National Lottery funding will be available again later this year. Read more; https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/