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 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.

The postholder will provide comprehensive advice, extensive casework and advocacy concerning welfare benefits. This will involve visiting patients in their homes, telephone calls and emails. You will be part of the multi-disciplinary Macmillan Unit team and spend time at the Unit each week whilst being based at Citizens Advice Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole. Read more:

For further information contact: recruitment@citizensadvicebcp.org.uk

Closimg date date 4 January 2021.

Information updates

COVID19: Local restrictions guidance from 2 December 2020: We now know that both Dorset and BCP will be in Tier 2 from next Wednesday, here is the list and the government guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/full-list-of-local-restriction-tiers-by-area#tier-2-high-alert

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know

IMMIGRATION: BENEFITS for EEA Nationals

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 has received Royal Assent and brings to an end freedom of movement at 11pm on 31 December 2020. The benefits rights of EEA Nationals, both during the period up to the 31  December 2020 (The ‘implementation period completion day’) and from 1  January 2021 to 30  June 2021 (the end of the ‘transition period’) are complex.

For EEA Nationals who have not been granted PRE-SETTLED STATUS, the benefit rights of this group are dealt with under the new Citizens’ Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. After 30 June 2021, if the EEA National has not been granted PRE-SETTLED STATUS (or SETTLED STATUS), they may be required to leave the United Kingdom as they will no longer be lawfully resident and will not in consequence be entitled to various Social Security benefits.

For EEA Nationals who have been granted PRE-SETTLED STATUS, the benefit rights for this group from 1 January 2021 are likely to be complex.

Wolverhampton City Council’s Benefit Bulletin for October provides a good overview, but expect more updates to come along……

EUSS Settled Status: EU /EEA Nationals need to be resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 in order to apply for either settled or pre-settled status, which MUST be done by 30 June 2021. Statistics (which are difficult to be exact about since there is no exact count of EU nationals living locally…) suggest that 95% of EU citizens in the BCP area have already applied BUT only about 45% of those living in the Dorset Council area have done so.

Vulnerable people may have difficulties, eg. if they are digitally excluded, have health issues, live in care homes etc. There may also be some people who think they don’t need to apply; even if people have lived in the UK for many years they still need to apply (unless they have obtained British Citizenship).

For free help with applications, contact: 07761 092704, euss.advice@citizensadvicebcp.org.uk

Below are various materials: an updated presentation on the scheme, a leaflet which can be printed, and a selection of posters designed to catch people’s attention with a ‘did you know….?’ format (the short title hopefully gives enough to tell you the poster’s focus….). Feel free to use any or all these resources with your teams, users and networks.

EMPLOYMENT

CJRS – Furlough for those returning from parental leave: Up to 31 October, a returning parental leave worker could only be furloughed if the employer had already used the CJRS for another worker – this rule will not apply after 1 November. For example the rules state that a woman can ask to end maternity leave early to be furloughed – perhaps where SMP has ended and they’d be better off on furlough instead.  Read more: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme#if-your-employee-is-on-or-has-recently-returned-from-leave

There are other updates on Furlough including on redundancy and notice issues:

  • During November, an employer can make a furlough grant claim (FGC) for a worker serving a period of statutory notice, but the guidance is silent on contractual notice.
  • From 1 December, an employer cannot make a FGC for a period where the employee is serving either statutory or contractual notice.

Read the employers guide: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme#if-youve-made-your-employees-redundant

Test and Trace Support Payment: The £500 self-isolation grant is only currently available to those contacted by the NHS Test and Trace system, which provides them with a code to then make the claim. Being notified by the NHS Covid app does not do this, as this extract from the Govt website says:

If the NHS COVID-19 app notifies you to self-isolate because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, but you have not been contacted by NHS Test and Trace by phone, email, letter or text message, you cannot currently apply for the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. Further work is needed to determine if it will be possible to qualify for this payment, bearing in mind that app users remain anonymous.

A recent case in Dorset highlighted the problems that a local person has had because they were contacted via the app so could not claim the grant. The current guide is below , and below that the link to the BBC News website. .

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55032033

DEBT

FCA guidance – Consumer Credit Agreements. There are 5 documents on payment deferral which all apply from 25 November and will continue until 31 July 2021 except for payday loan deferrals  which have a deadline of 31 March 2021.

  • Personal loans
  • Credit cards
  • Motor Finance
  • High cost credit
  • Rent to own/Buy now pay later/ Pawn broking agreements

Read more: https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/finalised-guidance/consumer-credit-and-coronavirus-updated-guidance-firms

FCA guidance – Support for mortgage borrowers: More on deferred payments and tailored support: https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/finalised-guidance/finalised-guidance-mortgages-and-coronavirus-updated-guidance-firms

OTHER

Womens Aid Rail to Refuge scheme: This scheme, launched in March, means that a survivor of abuse with a confirmed refuge space can travel by train for free across England, Scotland and Wales. The scheme has just been extended; read more: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/rail-to-refuge/

Green Homes Grant: The deadline for getting work done under this scheme has been extended to 31 March 2022. Read the guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-green-homes-grant

Events

Fuel Poverty Awareness Day – Friday 27 November is being coordinated by NEA who say: This winter could be the most devastating for fuel poor customers in years.  Those who were already struggling with their energy costs may find that they are plunged deeper into crisis, while others who may have never been worried about their finances could find themselves in a very different situation to where they were 12 months ago. Many people are spending additional time at home and may need support with how to stay warm and safe; while those who are ill or self-isolating may also have concerns about practical challenges in paying for their energy, particularly if they have a pre-payment meter. Read more, and get involved, here: https://www.nea.org.uk/news/how-to-get-involved-with-fuel-poverty-awareness-day/

Don’t forget the Citizens Advice energy advice pages: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/

…and the Big Energy Saving Winter microsite with a November focus to CHECK if you can save money: https://bigenergysavingwinter.org.uk/check/

Policy in Practice: 2020 – Policy review of the year. Free webinar on Wednesday 9 December, 10.30 – 11.30. This will look back at the policy response to the pandemic. We will revisit research findings we uncovered from our analysis for clients across both local and central government. And, as the focus turns to the health of our economy, we look at what 2021 holds for people facing redundancy, debt or lower incomes. To register: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7767107778265764622?source=website

Reports

CRISIS: The impact of COVID-19 on people facing homelessness and service provision across Great Britain. The homelessness response to COVID-19 has seen extraordinary action taken across Great Britain to get thousands of people into safe accommodation during the pandemic. But, with businesses and livelihoods under continued strain, the economic impact of coronavirus is exerting pressure on people already pushed to the brink by low wages and high rents. 

This new report form CRISIS is based on research carried out between March and September this year to understand the experiences of frontline homelessness services during the pandemic. Read more; https://www.crisis.org.uk/about-us/the-crisis-blog/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-people-facing-homelessness-and-service-provision-across-great-britain/

Gambling Commission News: includes an analysis of the impact of Covid19 on gambling. https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/news/2020/Data-shows-the-impact-of-Covid-19-on-gambling-behaviour-in-September-2020.aspx

Beyond the Bet are podcasts produced by the Gambling Support Service, a project delivered by 12 Citizens Advice offices across England & Wales. Often considered as the ‘silent’ or ‘hidden’ addiction, Beyond The Bet provides listeners with engaging and educational content around the subject of gambling. Podcasts are for frontline workers, someone struggling with a gambling addiction or if interested in gambling as a concept, and episode three is about the lived experience, but there are two earlier episodes – an introductory podcast and one on interventions. Go to: https://anchor.fm/beyondthebetpodcast/episodes/Episode-Three–A-Lived-Experience-Perspective-emmv3t

Funding News

Voice for Change – Round 2 opens 25 November: This fund is for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community groups and organisations, working to deliver COVID-19 services in England.

This grants programme is designed to help tackle the disproportionate impact of COVID 19 on BAME communities. There are three sections:

  1. Delivering COVID 19 services. Groups can apply for help with current costs, if their funding has been affected by the pandemic.
  2. Delivering mental health and well-being services, particularly to those who have been further impacted by COVID 19
  3. Delivering sports activities to tackle BAME inequalities and help with the impact of COVID 19 including well-being initiatives

The fund is generally aimed at smaller organisations (annual funding under £200k). Read more: https://voice4change-england.com/covid-19-grants-programme/

The National Lottery – Infrastructure Programme: We’ll give between 8 and 10 infrastructure organisations a package of funding, combined with on-site coaching and expertise provided by a Design Lab over 12 months.

Infrastructure organisations support informal groups, local social action, specialist communities, and voluntary and community sector organisations across the UK. Although they may work directly with communities too, that’s not their only purpose. We’re looking to fund two different types of infrastructure organisations – established and emerging.

For established infrastructure organisations, the Design Lab will support organisational redesign and renewal. For emerging infrastructure organisations, it’ll help strengthen efforts and build additional capacity.

Funding size: Up to £50,000 Total available£400,000 (around 8 to 10 grants in total). Application deadline: 1 December 2020. Read more: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes/new-infrastructure-programme#section-4