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

None this week

Information

Financial Support for jobs and businesses. This fact sheet covers the Furlough scheme (now extended to 31 March 2021), help for the self-employed, support for businesses (loans, grants etc): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/932977/ECONOMIC_SUPPORT_FACTSHEET_5_November.pdf

Furlough guidance for employees: Employees can be flexibly furloughed or fully furloughed, and can be furloughed even if they have not been before 31 October. Various scenarios are covered eg. if someone was made redundant in October, if they were on the pay roll as at 23 September they can be rehired and then furloughed. Below are links to both the government guidance and to Citizens Advice information.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/coronavirus-being-furloughed-if-you-cant-work/

The Self Employment Income Support Scheme: People must have been previously eligible for the second grant, even if not claimed, and currently trading has stopped or has been impacted by lockdown. The extension will last for 6 months, from November 2020 to April 2021. Grants will be paid in 2 lump sum instalments each covering a 3 month period.

The third grant will cover a 3 month period from 1 November 2020 until 31 January 2021. The Government will provide a taxable grant calculated at 80% of 3 months average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension

Information for those who are clinically vulnerable: Updated guidance is 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

BENEFITS

Tax Credit awards can continue even if people’s hours have dropped, now that the Furlough and SEISS schemes have been extended. However, people should still report other changes in income, childcare and increase in hours in the normal way and must tell HMRC if they are:

  • made redundant
  • lose their job
  • are self-employed and stop trading

ESA / UC Health Assessments: From Monday 2 November, ESA and UC telephone assessment appointment letters will make it clear that claimants must attend their telephone appointment. FTA (Fail to Attend) and FTP (Fail to Participate) actions – which had been eased – will now apply, e.g. benefit may be stopped (ESA) or entitlement change (UC), for those who have been issued with this letter and fail to attend or participate without good reason.

According to Touchase, People will be contacted to ask them to explain why they did not, or could not attend or participate in the assessment and where good cause is provided and accepted, support will continue. http://news.dwp.gov.uk/dwplz/lz.aspx?p1=MOaDUxMTc1OFMzNDI0OjNGQTNCQjhDRURCOUJBRENGNjk1MDg2Mjg1QjQwQjI3-&CC=&p=0

Universal Credit – Earned Income amendment: When a second set of earnings for a working UC claimant fall in the same UC assessment period (which can happen for example if people are paid 4 weekly), the second payment will now be reallocated into the following UC assessment period. This chnge follows a Court Appeal ruling. Here is the amendment: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1138/made

HOUSING

Evictions: No evictions will take place during the national lockdown except in very limited circumstances. Landlords can however still give notice and start court action. Read more on the Shelter website: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus

‘Untidy tenancies’ and UC: Untidy tenancies can occur when a joint tenant leaves the property and the remaining tenant becomes liable for their housing costs. The DWP has updated the Universal Credit to-do section and added a new ‘Confirm a change in joint tenancy’ section, which should ensure that the correct rent amount is automatically paid each month.  This, and other housing-related guidance, is on the National Housing Federation website, here: https://www.housing.org.uk/news-and-blogs/news/new-advice-dwp-universal-credit-calculations/

IMMIGRATION

EUSS Settled Status: The deadline for making an application has been extended to 30 June 2021. Dont; forcet Citizens Advice BCP have caseworker who can support peop with their applications:

Email: euss.advice@citizensadvicebcp.org.uk

ENERGY

Green Homes Grant: short video from Martin Lewis gives the key points of teh scheme: https://www.express.co.uk/videos/6196586708001/Martin-Lewis-outlines-the-details-of-the-Green-Home-Grant

Warm Homes Discount: Updated list of suppliers and what they are offering:

Local Information

Lockdown – local Support for those who are clinically vulnerable:

  • Dorset Council 01305 221000
  • BCP: 0300 1237052

Dorset – Digital Champions Hotline: Digital Champions are available to help people learn or improve their digital skills, eg. using tablets and smartphones, making video calls, doing online shopping etc. The helpline is 01305 221048, Monday – Friday 10 – 12. New publicity materials are here:

Age UK North South & West Dorset: virtual cafes. The new virtual café will be held via Zoom twice a week, every Wednesday and Friday at 11am, and will last approximately one hour. This innovative virtual coffee morning offers the opportunity for older people to make a hot drink, sit down in their own homes and connect with others to chat, make friends and have some fun during these difficult times. Please publicise this to your colleagues / service users – more info is in this press release:

Events

To Cap It All – understanding the reach and impact of the benefit cap. Free webinar on Thursday 26 November, 1 – 2.30pm. The number of households hit by the cap almost doubled between February and May to 154,000, showing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

This webinar will preview new research into the relationship between the benefit cap and mental health. There’ll be an opportunity to discuss the latest benefit cap statistics, and to hear from a range of experts on the policy. The webinar is organised by Child Poverty Action Group, the universities of Oxford, York and the London School of Economics and Political Science. To register:

https://york-ac-uk.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_7_gekSNHQBesEL9HU_Pc7w

Talk Money Week 9 -13 November: “If you find it hard to talk about money, you’re not alone. That’s why every year we encourage people to open up about their finances. By having a conversation, you can improve your physical, mental and financial wellbeing”. The Money & Pensions service supports this event – for more information and resources go to: https://maps.org.uk/talk-money-week/

National Consumer Week 16 – 22 November 2020: NCW is an annual campaign which aims to raise awareness of issues that consumers are having across the country, and the protections and resources available to help people when they need it.

The theme of this year’s campaign is online shopping and delivery. This is a particularly timely topic ahead of ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ where there will be millions of people shopping online. And of course the coronavirus crisis has added an extra importance – the number of people shopping online has unsurprisingly increased during the pandemic. Below is an information briefing and a poster:

CPAG Welfare Rights Conference 23 – 27 November: Social Security in a rapidly changing world’ . Online workshops on a range of topics – there is a a charge (voluntary organisations – £133). More info: https://cpag.org.uk/

Reports

Flexistability: Research by Working Families has found that 1 in 5 working parents in the UK feel they have been treated less fairly at work because of their childcare responsibilities since the onset of COVID-19. Read more: https://workingfamilies.org.uk/news/one-in-five-working-parents-has-faced-unfair-treatment-at-work-since-covid-19-onset/

Funding News

Dorset Council – Organisational Revenue Support Fund: This can award grants to cultural and community organisations for up to 3 year revenue support agreements. Various amounts depend upon the type of organisation:

  • incorporated, constituted ‘Not for Profit’ organisations can apply for a minimum of £5,000 per year for a maximum of 3 years
  • voluntary community sector organisations can apply for a maximum of £10,000 per year or a maximum of £25,000 per year for exceptional strategic applications 
  • cultural organisations can apply for a minimum of £5,000 up to £35,000 or exceptional strategic cultural organisations can apply for a maximum of £50,000

Deadline: 29 November. Read more: https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/your-community/support-for-voluntary-and-community-organisations/funding/organisational-revenue-support-fund.aspx

Wessex Water Recovery Fund: Administered by Dorset Community Foundation the Recovery Fund will support local projects strengthening our communities following the Coronavirus outbreak. This fund can support a wide range of local projects with grants of up to £2,500. Priority will be given to those that are working to:

• support people in financially difficult circumstances
• help build stronger communities
• support the green recovery with new initiatives
• restoring and protecting nature and wildlife for community health and wellbeing

We particularly welcome applications from BAME groups.

Closing date: 4 December. Read more: https://www.dorsetcommunityfoundation.org/funds/wessex-water-recovery-fund/

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has launched a £4.98 million grant programme which is available to voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations in the UK to cover the years 2021 to 2024. Registered charities, voluntary and community sector organisations, social enterprises, mutual and co-operatives based in the UK with an income of more than £40,000 per year can apply now.

To be eligible, they should provide advice and support to HMRC customers who need extra help understanding and complying with their tax obligations and claiming their entitlements, including those who are digitally excluded. This could include those with disabilities, mental health or learning difficulties, those on low income or in debt, older people, migrants, and carers.

Grants will range from £20,000 to £750,000 per year with a maximum threshold set at 50% of the organisation’s turnover. The funding is for activities that cover one or more of the following

·        Advice and support.

·        Digital inclusion.

·        Specialist support and referrals.

Applicants must have the infrastructure and capability to handle in the region of 700 referrals per year and would be responsible for bringing individual cases to conclusion.

The deadline for applications is 27 November 2020.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hmrc-grant-funding-application-guidance