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 are recruiting for 2 posts – a Housing Caseworker and an Employment Tribunal Specialist  – though the closing date is 8 January 2020….. These are part-time roles, part of a 21 month project funded by the Access to Justice Foundation, led by Citizens Advice Central Dorset. Details are below if you wish to do a last-minute application:

Community Action Network [BCP} are recruiting for :

  • a Volunteer Co-ordinator (full time, 23 month contract), closing date 19 January 2021.
  • a Project Officer – Research & Development (25 hrs/week, 9 month contract), closing date 28 January 2021.

Read more here.

Information updates

LOCKDOWN 3

Here is the link to the full guidance, if you haven’t found it already. Other guidance is being/has been updated; there is a section on working (which includes the CJRS ‘Furlough scheme’); see this section.

The advice for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable is still dated 31 December 2020. We understand that the term ‘shielding’ is back in use and support is available, but not free food parcels. If people are not contacted autoomatically they can register online here – they will need their NHS number.

In addition the Government has announced a package of Business Lockdown Grants: Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000 (depending on rateable value). read more bou thes eone-off top-up grants here.

The Citizens Advice home page highlights key Coronavirus information issues – you can click the links below.

Going out and meeting with people

Check if you have to self-isolate

Being furloughed if you can’t work

If you’re self-employed

If you’re worried about working

Check what benefits you can get

Getting benefits if you’re self-isolating

If you can’t pay your bills

For local guidance and information, go to Dorset Council or BCP.

Benefit and tax credit updates: A good summary of new regulations, tribunal decisions, plus news and comments, can be found on the RevenueBenefits website. For example, Tax credit regs have been amended so that  certain payments are disregarded as income, including those from COVID-19 related payment schemes. Also the minimum income floor for those with self employed income on Universal Credit will continue to be suspended until 30 April 2021.

Statutory Sick Pay and self isolation: The regulations were changed when the self isolation period was reduced form 14 to 10 days in December, and they allow SSP to be claimed for 10 days after the day of symptoms or notification (11 days total). Claimants can be notified orally or in writing, and then receive SSP for the length of that notification.  Read more here.

BREXIT:

Access to Benefits will now be different for EU/EEA Nationals. Most benefit claim forms have also been amended and many now feature additional questions for EEA and Swiss claimants. Specifically ‘Were you living in the United Kingdom (UK) before 1 January 2021?’ There is a summary on the govt website here.

The EUSS (settlement scheme) is now only open to those who were living in the UK by 31 December.  In turn, only family relationships that began by 31 December (other than new-born children) are covered. Both non-EEA and EEA family members who were not in the UK by 31 December will need to apply for a family permit from abroad before travelling to the UK.

EHICs (health cards). The UK will

  • honour EHICs issued in the EU
  • start issuing ‘Global Health Insurance Cards’ (GHICs) to cover the health costs of UK residents that arise after visiting the EU (but not Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein unless the visit started before 1 January).

UK residents can continue to use their EHICs in the EU until they expire.

Training, Briefings etc

CPAG – Timing a UC claim: A short overview of how Universal Credit works and how to claim, also setting out how final payments from your job (if it has ended) might affect your first payment, so that delaying a claim for a short period could be beneficial. Watch the video here.

Loan Shark training: various courses for the new year from the Illegal Money Lending Team, including the following (all are 10.30 – 12);

  • Could you spot a loan shark? (session 1) 9 February, book here.
  • A loan shark victim’s journey and the part you play (session 20 – 11 February, book here.
  • Do you understand credit unions? 2 February, book here.

Dorset Community Action’s next webinar on Wednesday 13 January at 11.30 will be include an update on the EU Settlement Scheme as well as govenment updates. This is a free event – book here.

Research, Reports, Blogs etc

Stop Loan Sharks Winter Newsletter: Includes news about the new online reporting app, stories from victims, successful prosecutions, and info on the new campaign to make people aware of online loan sharks – #SharkFreeSurfing. read more here.

Citizens Advice: New year, same arrears: How the pandemic is leaving private renters with unmanageable debt. Private renters have been hit hard by the pandemic. They’re disproportionately likely to have fallen into financial difficulty and also have less savings to use as a safety net. As a result, many are struggling to pay their rent. Citizens Advice is recommending:

  • A legal ban on bailiff action and a pause on all possession proceedings during the national lockdown in England, and in tiers 2 and above, beyond 11 January
  • A national programme of loans and grants to help people in England who have fallen behind on rent due to the pandemic.

Read the summary and find the link to the full report here.

Low Incomes Tax Reform Group: A better deal for the low-income taxpayer. This paper, published in December, outlines practical steps to making the tax and associated welfare systems work better for people on low incomes. The recommendations in the paper are grouped around 7 principles for the tax system that LITRG believe should be firmly lodged in the minds of those designing and managing the tax system. Read more here.

Funding News

A reminder that the Local Connections Fund is now OPEN [and closes on 26 January!]: Funded by the Government and the National Lottery Community Fund, the new £4 million Local Connections Fund aims to help reduce loneliness; it is intended for small constituted voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations with an annual income of £50,000 or less. There will be two funding rounds, with a total of £2 million available for each round. Grants of between £300 and £2,500 are to be used to:

·        Build relationships in and across communities to help reduce loneliness and build connections between people and communities

·        Bring together organisations who are working on social connections to celebrate their work, share learning and best practice, and form/bring together peer networks.

Visit the website here.