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 Central Dorset: Advice Session Supervisor – Blandford
Hours: 8 Hours per week Salary: £ 5533 (per annum)
Term: Permanent Start Date: Immediate Start

This role will cover our outreach office in Blandford. The successful candidate will demonstrate a willingness to fit in with existing teams and be flexible in their approach. We are looking for a highly motivated individual and the supervisor role will require you to run the daily multi-channel advice session (telephone, email, webchat, virtual and/or
physical face to face) and at times to supervise a team of remote working volunteer advisers and ensure service delivery and quality standards are maintained

Read more below:

Stars – Male Independent Sexual Violence Advisor.  The role is to support male victims of rape and sexual violence providing advocacy and practical support.  Experience of the Criminal Justice Service would be a distinct advantage. This is a full-time position with a salary of between £21,000 – £23,000 dependent on experience and qualifications.  Closing date 14 February. Full details can be found on the website here.

Information Updates

USEFUL WEBSITES

The BBC website is a good source of information on various subjects, with links to other agencies; I came across this page on dealing with grief, which seemed topical given the grim milestone we have just passed.

EU Rights & Brexit Hub: Based in the York Law School Clinic but operating as a nationwide hub, this can provide free specialist second-tier advice and advocacy service on EU welfare rights. They are looking at cases involving EU or EEA nationals seeking to access public services – for example, through making claims or appeals relating to welfare benefits; they are also interested in cases relating to access to public sector housing, healthcare, education, and other related services. There is an online portal to to request a consultation. Read more HERE.

National Free School Meals Voucher Scheme: Information is on the Edenred website. The scheme will provide free school meal vouchers to cover the four-week period between 18 January – 12 February. Read more here.

Govt website – travel corridors: Travel corridors were suspended at 4am, 18 January 2021. If you arrive in England from anywhere outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man you will need to self-isolate for 10 days. You must have proof of a negative coronavirus test to travel to England.

BENEFITS

A reminder that the Severe Disability Premium Gateway closes on 27 January. A good overview on this topic is on the Disability Benefits Consortium here.

UC and childcare costs: The Child Care Element of Universal Credit is paid in arrears but most people have to pay child care costs up front. A recent case has ruled that this indirectly discriminates against women as, for example single mothers are more likely to be on lower earnings and struggle more to make these payments. The judge also held that the rule was irrational. There was evidence that it forced affected claimants to reduce their working hours, which was antithetical to one of the underlying principles of UC. The remedy is not yet clear, and the government could appeal. The Guardian reports on this here with a link to the ruling itself.

MONEY ISSUES

Tax Return deadline extended to 28 February: HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has effectively extended the self-assessment deadline, until 28 February. The official deadline for completing a return is Sunday 31 January, after which a £100 late filing penalty would normally be imposed. However, HMRC have said that in view of the pandemic ‘It has become increasingly clear that some people will not be able to file their return by 31 January’ – so there won’t be a penalty IF returns are submitted by 28 February. Read more here

FCA business interruption insurance test case: The FCA took this case to the Supreme Court who have ruled that cover may be available for partial closure of premises (as well as full closure) and for mandatory closure orders that were not legally binding; that valid claims should not be reduced because the loss would have resulted in any event from the pandemic; and that two additional policy types from insurer QBE provide cover. This will mean that more policyholders will have valid claims and some pay-outs will be higher.    

The judgment brings to an end legal arguments under 14 types of policy issued by six insurers, and a substantial number of similar policies in the wider market which will now lead to claims being successful.  The FCA’s decision to bring the test case has removed the need for policyholders to resolve many key issues individually with their insurers.

Read more detail here

OTHER

Missing or delayed post? The pandemic has led to some dealstys with deliveries, adn some people may be concerned that a bill is late. This Citizens Advice blog gives guidance on what to do and includes other links; read more here.

LOCAL INFO / NEWS

Dorset Community Action – webinar on Fuel Poverty and Food Insecurity: Follow this LINK to find presentations from yesterday’s webinar, and other info such as a flyer on how to speed up your broadband.

Mental Health Support in Dorset: Here is a useful updated list of support organisations and contacts:

Research, Reports, Blogs and Bulletins

Gambling Commission: Read their latest e-bulletin here. This includes links to data on gambling trends in 2020, and a link to some of the more common queries they receive from gambling customers.

CPAG Court of Appeal judgement – EU Nationals lawfully in the EU were unlawfully excluded from claiming Universal Credit: CPAG took this case on behalf of a disabled Roumain man and his carer. Both gined Pre settled Stat sin 201, but were subsequently refused universal credit on the grounds that their pre-settled status was not a sufficient right to reside to enable them to access means-tested benefits..

The Court agreed wth CPAG that refusing UC on the basis of their pre-settled status unlawfully discriminated against them on the grounds of nationality, breaching EU law.  This judgment means an estimated 1.8 million* EU nationals with ‘pre-settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme who are resident in the UK will be able to access means-tested benefits on the same basis as British citizens, should they need to call upon them.

Read more here.

TUC: Fire and rehire tactics have become more normal during the pandemic. A recent TUC poll showed that 1 in 10 workers had been told to re-apply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions. The polling also reveals that nearly a quarter of workers in Britain have experienced a downgrading of their terms during the crisis – including through reduced pay or changes to their hours.   Read more here.

Bailiff activity ‘a risk to public health’: ‘Taking Control’ – a ​group campaigning for regulation of the bailiff industry – is urging the government to extend the suspension of bailiff enforcement of rental evictions (announced on Friday 8 January) to include a suspension of bailiff visits for debt enforcement, as the pandemic enters its most dangerous phase. You can read news on this on the Money Advice Trust website, and Taking Control is on this link.

Funding News

Big Society Capital – Ideas for Impact: BSC are looking for social impact investment ideas with the greatest potential to have a transformative impact on a social issue at scale. Ideas could relate to changing a part of the existing investment system that does not work, bringing together partners in new ways, or aligning the needs of charities, social enterprises and investors with a solution that is more effective than those currently available. To find out more there is a webinar on Thursday 4 February at 11am-12.30pm where they’ll be discussing what they’re looking for alongside an expert panel of speakers sharing their experience of developing an idea into an investable proposition.

  • More info here.
  • Link to webinar information here.

Woodroffe Benton Foundation: Small grants in the range £500 – £2,500 for relief of hardship, care of the elderly etc. Next deadline is 31 March 2021; read more here.