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 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

Jobs

Citizens Advice Purbeck: Business and Funding Development Manager. Based in Wareham when C-19 guidance permits, otherwise working from home. The post is peripatetic working within Dorset Council area.

Salary: Based on NJC scale 23: £27,741 pa. Hours per week: 37. Type of contract: 1 year fixed term.

The Business and Funding Development Manager will support us to grow with new opportunities and work with others. Employed by Purbeck Citizens Advice the post will include part time secondment to Citizens Advice in Dorset (CAiD) a consortium of the four Dorset Council area Citizens Advice: Bridport, Central, East Dorset and Purbeck. Read more below.

Closing date: 9am Monday 19th October 2020.

Citizens Advice Central Dorset: Dorset Employment Unit Coordinator.
Hours: 37 Hours per week (Flexible), Salary: £ 25,724 (per annum). Location: Covering the Dorset Council area. Term: Temporary Contract: Initially to 31st March 2021. Start Date: Immediate Start. Job Share considered. Closing date: 14 October 2020.


Citizens Advice in Dorset are setting up a new Employment Unit to provide high quality, specialist employment advice and representation to the residents of the county. It will bring together a team of specialist paid staff and volunteers who will deliver employment advice and training. We require a Coordinator who will be capable of getting a new initiative off the ground, working with a wide range of people and delivering the aims of the project. Read more:

Citizens Advice BCP: Welfare Benefits Adviser for Macmillan Caring Locally 18 hours per week, Salary – £9,460 – £10,252 (dependent on experience), Annual Leave – 12 days + Bank Holidays. Closing date: 11 October 2020.

We’re looking for an individual with demonstrable experience of welfare benefit advice for a minimum of 2 years. You will have a proven track record of working with vulnerable people. Macmillan Caring Locally is a local charity that works in partnership with the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to provide the services at the Macmillan Unit and in our community. For more information see the advert below and contact: mailto:dan.stannard@citizensadvicebcp.org.uk

Information Updates

SELF-ISOLATION REGULATIONS from 28 September 2020:   These mandatory requirements are triggered when a person is contacted by a test and trace worker (but not by the NHS Covid-19 app) or an NHS or local authority worker, and informed either that they’ve tested positive for coronavirus or that they’ve had close contact with someone who has.

Regulation 8 obliges workers, including agency workers, to notify their employer that they must self-isolate and the start and end dates of the isolation period. Workers who work exclusively from home don’t have to notify.  

Under Regulation 7, where the employer of a self-isolating worker is aware of the requirement to self-isolate, the employer mustn’t allow that worker to attend any place to work other than where the worker is self-isolating.  A person can continue to work exclusively from home.

Workers should tell their employer if they’re required to self-isolate, and a worker who is dismissed or subject to detriment as a result may be able to claim for whistleblowing. However, there isn’t an automatic right to be paid for workers who can’t work from home. SSP and/or a Test and Trace Support Payment may be available.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1045/pdfs/uksi_20201045_en.pdf

Test & Trace support package: People who are required by law to self-isolate from 28 September may be able to claim a £500 payment if they are on lower incomes, cannot work from home and have lost income as a result. Local self-isolation support schemes should be in place shortly. Read more: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-package-to-support-and-enforce-self-isolation

Summary of self-isolation rules from Citizens Advice: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-rules-you-need-to-follow/check-if-you-have-to-self-isolate-because-of-coronavirus/

EMPLOYMENT / TRAINING

Ending of the Job Retention Scheme: When the scheme closes on October 31, employers will need to either:

  • bring employees back to work on their normal hours
  • reduce employees’ hours
  • terminate their employment 

Those furloughed who were on Working Tax Credit were treated as though they were still working (even if they were not). The end of this scheme may mean that many WTC claimants have to claim Universal Credit.

The Job Retention Bonus is a £1,000 one-off taxable payment to the employer for each eligible employee that had been furloughed and kept continuously employed until 31 January 2021. It can be claimed between 15 February 2021 and 31 March 2021, and the employer does not have to pay this money to their employee. Read more: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-claim-the-job-retention-bonus-from-15-february-2021:

Post 18 education and training: The Govt has announce a ‘major expansion’ to help rebuild post-Covid, including free college courses for those with no A levels, and more flexible higher education loans. Read more:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-expansion-of-post-18-education-and-training-to-level-up-and-prepare-workers-for-post-covid-economy

BENEFITS

Video Relay Service (VRS) allows customers to make an inbound call to DWP via a British Sign Language interpreter using a video connection. There is no need for anyone to be in the same location and customers do not have to book the service in advance. This service now covers Pension Credit and the Social Fund.

https://www.gov.uk/contact-pension-service

https://www.gov.uk/contact-jobcentre-plus/existing-benefit-claims

HOUSING

Eviction; A good overview is on the Shelter website: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus#Eviction_and_being_asked_to_leave with more detail aimed at advisers on their ‘legal’ site: https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal

DEBT

Financial Conduct Authority guidance: The FCA have published additional guidance setting out how firms should provide tailored support to consumer credit borrowers who have been granted payment deferrals under the current guidance and who continue to face financial difficulties, as well as those who experience payment difficulties as a result of circumstances relating to coronavirus after 31 October. The additional guidance applies from 2 October. https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/finalised-guidance/consumer-credit-coronavirus-additional-guidance-firms

There is a separate guide for overdrafts; https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/finalised-guidance/overdrafts-coronavirus-additional-guidance-firms

UTILITIES / ENERGY etc

Warm Home Discount: This government scheme obligates the UK’s largest energy suppliers to credit £140 discount onto the electricity bills of certain low income households. People who get 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 helpline. Some energy suppliers also extend the scheme to others on a low income.

The helpline opens on 12 October 2020  (Tel: 0800 731 0214) and people will need to confirm their eligibility before 26 February 2021. Read more; https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme

The Green Homes Grant Scheme: The Green Homes Grant gives homeowners in England vouchers to help cover the cost of energy efficiency improvements to their home – such as low-carbon heating systems, insulation or double glazing to replace single glazing. For most, the vouchers will be worth about two-thirds of the cost of the energy efficient improvements, up to a maximum of £5,000 per household.

The work needs to have been completed by 31 March 2021; as this is less than six months away, people will need to factor in the time it takes to get quotes, apply to the scheme and get the work completed. For more information:

https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/pages/green-homes-grant

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-green-homes-grant-scheme

SCAMS

Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering people to take a stand against scams. Anyone can join up, and there are resources and a short online training session on their website here: https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/

Local news

Money Talks: This project run by Citizens Advice BCP helps local people to manage their money, withstand financial emergencies, access specialist support, develop positive habits, improve their knowledge and skills, and achieve their long-term financial goals. 

Referrals can be made by completing the online referral form at:
www.citizensadvicebcp.org.uk/money-talks/ 
by emailing:
MoneyTalks@citizensadvicebcp.org.uk
or by telephoning:
07856 865602 / 01202 985104

Their recent newsletter is here:

Pre-payment Meter Vouchers: Agencies can still refer people for a voucher, if they are struggling to top-up their prepayment meter due to the social/economic impacts of covid19. See flyer below, and referrals can be by email or phone:

mailto:voucher@purbeck.cabnet.org.uk 01929 775500

Reports, blogs etc…..

It’s vital our benefits system is up to the challenge: This recent Citizens Advice blog on the role of the benefits system in the months ahead recommends that the uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit is made permanent and that the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor for self-employed people is extended. Read more: https://wearecitizensadvice.org.uk/were-facing-a-jobs-crisis-it-s-vital-our-benefits-system-is-up-to-the-challenge-44da06550861

Citizens Advice was one of a number of agencies signing an open letter from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to the Chancellor on this issue – read the letter here: https://www.jrf.org.uk/press/joint-open-letter-chancellor-keep-lifeline

Policy in practice blog: Three ways DWP can improve young peoples access to work: http://policyinpractice.co.uk/three-ways-dwp-can-improve-young-peoples-access-to-work/

Events, training, webinars etc

October is Black History Month, the annual commemoration of the history, achievements and contributions of black people in the UK. This national celebration aims to promote and celebrate black contributions to British society, and to foster an understanding of black history in general. Read more on the BHM website: https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/

Policy in Practice webinars:

Weds 14 October 10.30: How to predict demand for your customer facing services in 2021. Register here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/462357142841500176?source=blog

Weds 11 November 10.30: How to find the right debt solution for everyone. Register here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1303694645077685005?source=blog

Funding News

Postcode Recovery Fund: Grants of between £500,000 and £1 million from a £3 million funding pot to support high impact and original projects. Priority areas for support include educational inequalities, homelessness, domestic violence, health and wellbeing, poverty, social exclusion and isolation. Applications where there are other clear benefits to the community will also be considered. Projects must be delivered in 2021-2023. Closing date 30 October 2020.

The funding is for impactful and original projects that can demonstrate a clear link to the effects of the pandemic across the following six funding priority areas:

  • Educational inequalities
  • Homelessness
  • Domestic Violence
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Social exclusion and isolation
  • Poverty

Read more: https://www.postcodedreamtrust.org.uk/

Trusthouse Charitable Foundation: Grants programmes re-open soon –

  • small grants with a focus on community support, re-opens 12 October
  • major grants with a focus on family support, re-opens 9 November

Read more:https://www.trusthousecharitablefoundation.org.uk/noticeboard

Steele Charitable Trust: The next application deadline for their regular grant-giving programme (which can include, but is not restricted to, COVID-19 related grants) is midnight on Tuesday 20th October 2020 (NB: this is a change from the previously published deadline of 31st October). You must apply online via the form – link below. Categories include health and social disadvantage. Grant size between £2,500 and £25,000.

https://steelcharitabletrust.org.uk/grants/grant-making-policy/