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:caroline.buxton@centralca.org.uk

Information Updates

HOUSING

A reminder of the new rules on notices seeking possession: From 29 August 2020 landlords are required to give tenants at least 6 months notice seeking possession in most cases; however, there are significant exceptions.

In the Coronavirus Act 2020, the government changed the notice periods required before possession proceedings can be started. The Act has now been revised and notice periods have changed again. How much notice a tenant must have will depend on all of the following:

  • when the notice was served
  • the type of tenancy they have
  • the reason/s the landlord is seeking possession. 

For notice served before 26th March 2020, the usual rules for notices apply, for example, at least 2 months was required for a Section 21 Notice.

For notices served on or after 26th March 2020 and before 29th August 2020, the Coronavirus Act changed the rules so that a minimum 3 months notice is required in most cases.

The new notice periods: The effect of the new regulations is that for notices served on or after 29th August 2020 until 31 March 2021, a minimum of 6 months notice is required in most circumstances, BUT there are exceptions. The detailed regulations are here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/914/regulation/3/made

Shelter Legal covers in more detail information for different types of tenancies: https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/home/whats_new

BENEFITS

Benefits overview: For information on benefits and related matters, including coronavirus updates and an A to Z of benefits search facility, go to: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/

Disabled students and UC: The Universal Credit (Exceptions to the Requirement not to be receiving Education) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI.No.827/2020) came into effect from 5 August 2020. A person who is receiving advanced (higher) education is not entitled to Universal Credit unless satisfying an exception. The exception would be that the person is entitled to AA, DLA or PIP and it has been determined –

  • that the person has a limited capability for work (LCW) or a limited capability for work related activity (LCWRA) on the basis of a work capability  assessment; or
  • that the person is to be treated as having a LCW or a LCWRA –

and that determination was made on or before the date of claim to UC, where the person is receiving education on the date the claim is made, or the date on which the person starts receiving education, where the person starts receiving education after the date of claim to Universal Credit.    

Disability Rights UK comments that there is no indication how a disabled student is able to “get out of the Catch 22 situation of not being found to have a limited capability for work but given no opportunity to have a work capability assessment to show this”. Read more: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/august/new-dwp-guidance-regulations-excluding-disabled-students-universal-credit

Department for Work and Pensions to improve services for deaf customers: Following a complaint to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on behalf of four hearing-impaired people who had problems accessing a British Sign Language interpreter to use the telephone service, the DWP has  entered into a legally binding agreement with the EHRC to improve support for deaf customers accessing its services by telephone. An action plan includes providing a Video Relay Service across all benefits. Read more: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/our-work/news/dwp-enters-legal-agreement-improve-services-deaf-customers

EDUCATION: With school re-starting, don’t forget about the possible help for low-income families – free school meals, help with the cost of uniforms and activities etc. Citizens Advice provide a summary at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/education/school-education/help-with-school-costs/ and for local council informtion follow these links:

Events, briefings, consultations etc

Pension Awareness Day  is on Tuesday 15 September. The campaign will include a whole week of webinars, 1:1 chats and useful resources to help people. Read more: https://pensionawarenessday.com/

Don’t forget locally Citizens Advice BCP deliver the Pensionwise service: https://www.pensionwise.gov.uk/en

NEA: Warm Homes Week 14 – 17 September: A series of digital seminars, workshops, discussions and other sessions exploring fuel poverty and other key issues such as the impact of Covid-19 on energy customers; the just transition to Net Zero 2050; and the decarbonisation of heat. Sessions will take place on Zoom and be streamed on the NEA’s YouTube channel and will be free to attend, although some will be restricted to NEA members in the first instance. Read more: https://www.nea.org.uk/

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman – consultation on NHS complaints: Have your say in shaping the future of NHS complaint handling – there’s a survey and a short film about the proposed Complaint Standards Framework here: https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/csf

Work and Pensions Committee: the Chair of this committee, the Right Hon Stephen Timms MP, has written to the Secretary of State (Dr Therese Coffey), thanking her for the Government’s response to the Committee’s report on the DWP’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, but asking her to clarify some points not covered by her response. Makes for interesting reading: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/2406/documents/23999/default/

Social Security Advisory Committee – rapid review of post-lockdown changes to social security benefits: Due to the speed with which the Government introduced changes to benefits in response to Covid19, the SSAC has not scrutinised these in the depth that new regulations would normally be subjected to. They are now working to advise the government on what these social security changes should look like in the ‘new normal’.

They are starting with a short-term review focussing on conditionality, issues for those who are self-employed , and sickness and disability related benefits. Read more, and comment, here: https://ssac.blog.gov.uk/2020/08/06/rapid-review-of-post-lockdown-changes-to-social-security-benefits/#comment-1816

Reports and other useful articles

Public Law project: Immigration appeals. PLP have published a report on their research into the the impact of moving courts online for immigration appeals in the first-tier tribunal.This report examines the transition to using the online procedure. This new system involves the introduction of a digital platform to lodge and track appeals, as well as an adapted appeal process that aims to provide more active case management and encourage earlier engagement from parties. Read more: https://publiclawproject.org.uk/uncategorized/online-immigration-appeals-a-case-study-of-the-first-tier-tribunal/

Locally, Citizens Advice are currently collating evidence on people’s experiences of first-tier benefit appeals carried out via telephone hearings. There have been a number of administrative issue, such as the Chair not being sent the correct phone number for the client’s representative, so the client is then unrepresented. Also, for some clients the prospect of a phone hearing is just too daunting. If you are having any experiences of tribunal issues, please contact Caroline Buxton. mailto:caroline.buxton@centralca.org.uk

MYTime Young Carers – their story through the pandemic: MYTime Young Carers are a Dorset-based charity who work to support young carers of ages 5-25. They have had a number of successes during lockdown and are now working towards a brand new programme which will launch when schools reopen in September. Read more: https://www.dorsetcommunityaction.org.uk/mytime-young-carers-their-story-through-the-pandemic/

Holiday from Hell – Quarantine and Employment Rights: 42BR (Barristers) have produced a useful article on the various situations that employees/workers may find themselves in: https://www.42br.com/latest-news/holiday-from-hell-quarantine-and-employment-rights.htm

Funding News

Money Saving Expert: MSE Charity’s September grant-giving round is now open with a theme of ‘building and developing resilience’. It is for projects which will support people recovering from the results of the coronavirus pandemic, and equip them to move forward. Closing date 25 September (or earlier if 40 applications are received)

To find out if your organisation may be eligible for a grant, you can take the MSE Charity’s eligibility checker here: https://www.msecharity.com/home