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

Information Updates

ADP January Factsheet, updated 13 January:

COVID 19 / LOCKDOWN 3

For a useful summary of economic support go to the government website here.

Advice for pregnant employees: updated Govt guidance on the Covid implications for those with and without underlying health conditions. Read more here.

Courts and tribunals can remain open during Lockdown and whilst remote hearings should be the default, in-person hearings can happen (subject to existing rules on minimising risk). However the Lord Chief Justice commented on 5 January 2121:

‘No participant in legal proceedings should be required by a judge or magistrate to attend court unless it is necessary in the interests of justice. Facilitating remote attendance of all or some of those involved in hearings is the default position in all jurisdictions, whether backed by regulations or not.’

Jobcentres remain open for those with emergencies who cannot be helped in any other way. Read the Govt guidance here.

Which employees can be furloughed? Employers can furlough people if they are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. Read the full Govt guidance here.

Laptops and Tablets for Children who cannot attend school.: The criteria are on the Govt website here.

LOCAL COVID INFO

NHS Dorset – Open letter to residents in Dorset and BCP: Information on current services, useful phone numbers etc – follow this LINK.

HOUSING

Evictions for tenants, eg using Section 21, are now on hold until 21 February 2021, except in very limited circumstances, for example, 6 months of rent arrears or anti-social behaviour and the case has already gone to court.

Mortgage payment holidays are extended until 31 March 2021. Borrowers can apply for a payment holiday unless they have already had 6 months’ of payment deferrals since March 2020.

A clear summary of current housing information is on the Shelter website here.

BENEFITS

Severe Disability Premium [SDP] Gateway closes on 27 January 2021. Since 16 January 2019 claimants who received a SDP or have received it within the last month and remain entitled to it, have been
unable to move to UC even if they have a relevant change in their circumstances. From 27 January, people on legacy benefits will no longer be barred from claiming Universal Credit (UC) due to being entitled to an SDP.

SDP claimants who experience a change in circumstances become eligible to claim Universal Credit after that date. The government has reviewed the level of transitional payments and increased the monthly amounts.

From this date, no new Housing Benefit (HB) claims will be taken for claimants in receipt of SDP. These claimants will now be allowed to claim Universal Credit (UC) and considered for the new Transitional Element.

There is information about this in various places, including for example on the Govt website here, and also a summary on the Benefits Training Company’s January news here.

Benefits and Brexit: Guidance and memos for decision makers on Right to Reside and other relevant topics can be found on the Govt website here.

OTHER

Covid19 vaccine SCAM: People are receiving text messages telling them that they are “eligible to apply for your vaccine” with a link to a bogus NHS website, which requests personal information, including bank details, for verification.

There is a short Citizens Advice blog on avoiding online scams during the national lockdown here.

Events, Webinars etc

Dorset Public Health ‘Trusted Voices Zoom Session’ on Wednesday 20 January 2021 from 1-2pm. “We invite you to share your experiences, tell us how you’re using the newsletter, to ask questions and to make your comments so we can work together to spread the word about how to keep ourselves, friends, families and communities safe during COVID-19”. To book go to Eventbrite.

Dorset Community Action AGM and funding session: This will be an opportunity to hear about what DCA have achieved this year and what is planned for the future. There is also the opportunity to take part in a FREE funding training session, to support your sustainability. Thursday 21 January, 2 – 4pm. Book via Eventbrite.

Public Law Project and partners – Access to Justice in the SW 2021 -Online sessions on 26 – 28 January:

An event bringing together organisations using the law to help people experiencing disadvantage or discrimination in the South West and nationally.  The conference is split into short online sessions over three days with a mix of skills training, analysis and discussion. It is presented by the Public Law Project in partnership with Plymouth University, University of Exeter Community Law Clinic, Plymouth Citizen’s Advice and Dorset Race Equality Council.

Tickets are £20 for the whole event.  Read more, and book, here.

Big Energy Saving Winter- Energy Super Saver Challenge. Please can you encourage your teams and service users to pledge today to become an Energy Super Saver and help a friend, family member or neighbour switch their energy tariff or supplier. Follow this LINK to find the instructions to be entered into a competition to win an energy efficient washing machine or one of five slow cookers

Reports, blogs, consultations, and other news

DEBT RELIEF ORDER[DRO] CONSULTATION: The government is reviewing the eligibility criteria for DROs. Proposals include increasing the debt limit from £20,000 to £30,000, the asset limit from £1,000 to £2,000 and the surplus income limit from £50 to £100 per month. This will give more people with low-levels of assets and low income who are in problem debt access to a suitable and proportionate option for debt relief. It’s proposed that these changes will come in at the same time as the new breathing space regime on 4 May. The consultation closes on 26 February. Read more, and respond, here.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on UK Poverty 2020/21: JRF analysis shows that “too many of us entered the pandemic already at risk of being cast adrift into poverty, while often lacking secure housing, a reliable income or adequate support. It also shows that those of us already struggling to keep our heads above water have often been hit the hardest”. Recommendations include retaining the £20/week uplift to benefits. Read more here.

Dorset Community Foundation’s ‘Surviving Winter Campaign’ breaks records: This years’ campaign has raised over £100,000. This money is then distributed via Citizens Advice in grants of £200 to people over 60 in fuel poverty or to those over 50 who have significant health conditions, are on the highest level of benefits or have little current chance of improving their life circumstances. Read more below.

Dorset Council Adult Social Care Services & Support Surveys: Dorset Council is working with and listening to community members to influence and design adult social care services and support. They will make their future decisions for day opportunities, unpaid carer services and support based on what is important and what a good day looks like to you. Follow this link.

Funding news

BH Coastal Lottery is a platform that enables the voluntary and community sector in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to fundraise to provide services to the residents of BCP.  It has been operating for just under 2 years and registered causes have raised just over £100,000 for their good causes. In addition, the BH Coastal Lottery Community Fund, which provides the revenue for the small grant scheme, has raised just over £63,000.

The third round of BH Coastal Lottery Small Grants is now open. Small voluntary sector organisations providing services within Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole that meet the criteria an apply for up to £500.00.   

The deadline is Sunday 21st February 2021. Links to the criteria and application form are on the BCP funding page here.

Postcode Local Trust: Funding for smaller charities and good causes in the west of England under the themes:

  • Improving mental wellbeing
  • Enabling community participation in the arts
  • Preventing or reducing the impact of poverty
  • Supporting marginalised groups and promoting equality
  • Improving biodiversity & green spaces
  • Enabling participation in physical activity
  • Responding to the climate emergency & promoting sustainability
  • Increasing community access to outdoor space

Next funding round opens on 1 February 2020; read more here.