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: Fighting Fuel Poverty – Energy Adviser
Location: home based with travel to local CA offices across Dorset
Salary: Based on scale 17 £24,491 per annum plus additional pension benefits.
Hours per week: 22.5 Type of contract: 2 Years funded
Closing date: 9am Monday 26th October 2020

The Adviser will be responsible for the delivery of a new service providing energy advice to households who are claiming means tested benefits, in order to reduce fuel poverty. The project aims to build financial resilience among vulnerable consumers and increase the likelihood of households being able to meet their heating requirements to stay warm and safe and avoid cold-related health problems.

Job advert below and for more details contact mailto:admin@purbeck.cabnet.org.uk

Citizens Advice: Trainee Debt Advisers – 3 posts.

Bridport & Districts – Job Ref: TDA/BD/20
Central Dorset – Job Ref: TDA/CD/20
East Dorset – Job Ref: TDA/ED/20
Hours: 37 Hours per week (Flexible). Salary: Up to £25,000 (per annum).
Location: Covering the Dorset Council area
Term: Temporary Contract: Initially to 31st March 2021 with the possibility
of extension to November 2021
Start Date: Immediate Start / Job Share considered. Closing date: 28 October 2020

We have recently secured additional funding from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) in response to COVID-19 and the expected 60% increase in demand for our debt advice service.

You will be trained to give advice across channels including face-to-face, telephone, email and web chat. The mix of channels will vary depending on local office working but is likely to consist of mostly telephone and digital at this time. You will receive project funder accredited advice-level training within 12 weeks of starting your employment, with further specialist
level training to follow. Further information below and for an application form contact: mailto:hr@centralca.org.uk quoting the job reference.

Information updates

INFORMATION SUMMARY for OCTOBER 2020:

Covid Alert Levels: New government guidance on the 3 levels of alert: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-covid-alert-levels-what-you-need-to-know

Updated guidance for those who are vulnerable: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-covid-alert-levels-what-you-need-to-know

Standard Job Support Scheme (JSS): As announced in September this scheme provides that workers have to be paid for and perform as usual at least 33% of normal hours to qualify for JSS support, the Government and employers meeting a third each of the costs of usual hours not worked. In effect it means that those on JSS receive 77% of pay, 55% paid by the employer and 22% paid by the government – capped at £697.92 per month. Businesses larger than an SME seeking to use the JSS must produce evidence that they have been adversely affected by Covid-19

Lockdown Job Support Scheme: Announced on 9 October, under this scheme the Government will pay 67% of wage costs, capped at £2,100 monthly, to support employees unable to work because the employer’s business is required to close through lockdown restrictions. This Lockdown scheme is available only when the employee is restricted from work for at least 7 consecutive days. Businesses required to close as a result of specific workplace outbreaks by local Public Health authorities will not be eligible for the scheme.

Common rules for standard and lockdown JSS

  • Employees must have been on the employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020, previous claims under the CJRS are not required, and grants will be paid monthly in arrears. 
  • Even though the JSS does not start until 1 November it appears that claims for a Lockdown JSS grant can be backdated to 9 October.
  • Employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the claim period. 

The Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme: businesses in England can receive up to £3,000 per month, and are eligible for payment after two weeks of closure. 

These measures will sit alongside the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus (JRB) which encourages employers to keep staff on payroll.

Read more: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/job-support-scheme-expanded-to-firms-required-to-close-due-to-covid-restrictions

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/921389/Job_Support_Scheme_Factsheet.pdf

Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) is a new DWP programme that will provide employment support for those out of work for three months.JETS will provide employment support to Universal Credit claimants in the all work related requirements group and New Style Jobseekers Allowance claimants who have been unemployed for at least 13 weeks. People will be referred by their work coach for tailored support. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/nation-s-job-hunt-jets-off

SEISS [Self Employed Income Support Grant]: For those eligible for a second grant, this must be claimed by 19 October. Read more:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

OTHER ISSUES

Students: Can I get a refund on my university accommodation? To help students with their accommodation and course dilemmas during a pandemic, This is Money, with the help of Citizens Advice and other experts, reveals what students can do if they feel they are getting a rough deal. Read more here: https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-8789553/Can-refund-university-course-accommodation.html

Loan Sharks: The Stop Loan Sharks reporting app has been launched, and can be download for free on the App Store and Google Play. The app is mainly aimed at frontline professionals and provides useful information on how to recognise the signs of illegal money lending, respond to disclosures and where to refer clients to for specialist support. 

Local Informaion

EU SETTLEMENT SCHEME: The EUSS Project, based at Citizens Advice BCP and covering BCP/Dorset, has been extended until the end of March 2021 This can help local vulnerable EU Nationals with their applications to the EU Settlement Scheme via face to face appointments, phone, email and video calls. Alongside project partners DREC, we will be engaging with the local EU community throughout BCP and Dorset to encourage all EU Nationals to apply to the scheme before the deadline of June 2021.

In the meantime, we will continue to offer phone and email advice, as well as 6 face to face appointments per week, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, held at Bournemouth Central Library. We are also holding ad-hoc clinics in Weymouth, and will be organising clinics at other Dorset locations over the coming 6 months. Clients can contact via phone or email:

Email: euss.advice@citizensadvicebcp.org.uk

Phone our Caseworkers: 07761 092704

Reminder: EU nationals have until June 2021 to apply for the scheme. However, they will need to ensure that they, or their family members, are resident in the UK by the end of December 2020 to enable them to make an application up until June 2021.

BIG ENERGY SAVING NETWORK: BESN is a community outreach project targetting vulnerable energy consumers. It is delivered by Energy Champions in organisations across England and Wales. It aims to help people with their energy bills by encouraging them to take actions, including: switching, signing up for WHD, signing up for the PSR and taking measures to make their homes more energy efficient. In addition to this, a network of 20 Regional Leads offer training to frontline workers, and support to Energy Champions. 

This year BESN is being delivered by Citizens Advice and Dorset Community Action. Obviously much of this activity will need to be delivered digitally, so we would like to hear from you if you have a group of consumers who maybe meet up by zoom, or similar, that we could present to. We can also arrange one-to-one help. Contact Caroline Buxton: mailto:caroline.buxton@centralca.org.uk

Also: Free Training – Energy and Money Saving is available for front line workers and those working in the community to help households who may be facing difficulty in heating their homes.  Heating costs in winter can be a real challenge for many people and in particular with the issues added by Covid-19.  This training will look at practical ways those in contact with households can help them to overcome this and help them to keep warm.

The training is aimed at anyone who encounters households, either face to face or by telephone, who are in or at risk of fuel poverty i.e those on a low income / in a vulnerable situation who may be struggling to pay their energy bills. The training will enable staff to identify how best to help those clients and where to signpost them for additional support. Please contact one of the BESN Regional Leads:

Dorset Council: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy – consultation. Dorset Council have launched a six week consultation to gather views on their new draft equality, diversity and inclusion strategy and action plan. As a public body, the council has both a legal and moral duty to promote equality, diversity and inclusion amongst residents, service users and its own employees. The council’s vision is to make Dorset a great place to live, work and visit. As an organisation the council is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, valuing and recognising differences.

This draft strategy proposes how the council will deliver equality, diversity and inclusion over the next four years and the action plan details of what work will be undertake in the next year to help deliver this strategy. The council are keen to know your thoughts on the strategy and action plan. To participate in the survey visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/edi-strategy

Copies of the strategy and action plan can be found on the consultation page. If you require the consultation in alternative formats, please contact Susan Ward-Rice or 01305 224368. The consultation closes on the 22 November 2020.

Public Health Dorset – ‘Trusted voices’: Follow the link to access recent newsletters: https://www.publichealthdorset.org.uk/your-health/protecting-your-health/trusted-voices.aspx

BCP support: https://www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/News/News-Features/COVID19/Find-help-or-help-your-community/Together-We-Can-How-to-get-help-and-how-to-help-your-community.aspx

Dorset Council support: https://preview-dorset.cloud.contensis.com/emergencies-severe-weather/emergencies/coronavirus/community-response/i-need-help-or-i-know-someone-who-needs-help-coronavirus-information.aspx

Events

National work life week 12 – 16 October: This is Working Families’ annual campaign to get both employers and employees talking about wellbeing at work and work-life fit. Employers can use the week to provide activities for staff, and to showcase their flexible working policies and practices. Read more: https://workingfamilies.org.uk/nationalworklifeweek/

National Credit Union day – Thursday 15 October: The Stop Loan Sharks Team are delighted to have partnered with over 100 different Credit Unions in England to promote responsible saving and lending. Read there Infographic below and there is also a link to a short animation on You Tube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdTZIn-5ouk&t=5s

Reports, blogs etc

Citizens Advice: Coronavirus has hit household budgets. The financial impact of coronavirus on the people we help with debt is unsurprising. 6 million people have fallen behind on bills due to coronavirus and a wide range of data shows that people who were financially insecure before the crisis have been the hardest hit by the pandemic. Read more. https://wearecitizensadvice.org.uk/coronavirus-has-hit-household-budgets-government-action-can-help-avoid-a-debt-crisis-cce3ab7aac19

Citizens Advice: Millions without mail. Since 2010, 7 million people have been unable to receive their own post. This is either because they don’t have an address, they’re moving around frequently or someone is intercepting their post. This problem disproportionately affects marginalised people. Homeless people, survivors of domestic abuse, Gypsies and Travellers, and people living in precarious dwellings such as boats are far more likely to face these problems. Read more: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/policy/policy-research-topics/post-policy-research-and-consultation-responses/post-policy-research/millions-without-mail/

Funding News

Esmee Fairburn Foundation: new strategy launched 7 October. Minimum grant of £30 k for projects with the following aims:

  • Improving the natural world.
  • Securing a fairer future.
  • Strengthening the bonds in communities in the UK.

Read more: https://esmeefairbairn.org.uk/

Masonic Charitable Foundation: Current priorities include children and young people, and older people:

  • Small grants, £1k – £15k for projects running one to three years; this round is open until 20 December 2020.
  • Large grants, £10k – £60 k for projects running one to three years; stage 1 of a two stage process is open until 31 October 2020.

Read more: https://mcf.org.uk/get-support/grants-to-charities/

B&Q Foundation: Grants of up to £5k to registered charities who support people experiencing poor quality housing and homelessness or are looking for help with a project to improve homes and community spaces. Read more: https://www.neighbourly.com/BandQFoundation

Energy Redress Scheme: The fund’s priority is to support energy consumers in vulnerable situations, but funding is also available for the development of innovative products and services related to energy.       

Grants of between £20,000 and £1 million are available and can be used for capital or revenue funding. Projects lasting up to two years can be funded. The deadline for applications is 5pm on 4 November 2020.

Read more: https://energyredress.org.uk/