Welcome to the Advice Partnership E News Bulletin

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).  As we have got to April, this edition is Number 1 of the new financial year!

During the Covid-19 outbreak we will be 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:  mailto:contact@caidorset.org.uk 

Covid-19 Information updates

BENEFITS

New style Employment and Support Allowance [ESA]: if you are not already claiming Universal Credit, you can claim new style ESA online. New style ESA is payable if you have paid the correct national Insurance contributions.:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance?utm_source=3a6dad61-0354-4034-9328-0e8286643d96&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate&utm_source=Expert+advice&utm_campaign=f87efc4dfd-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_04_21_07_10&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_19bd99be06-f87efc4dfd-284330865&mc_cid=f87efc4dfd&mc_eid=ad661b2037#overview

Statutory Sick Pay:

  • SSP and furlough – If you’re on SSP you can ask to be furloughed. However, If you’re already furloughed you can’t then also qualify for SSP.
  • SSP and shielding or self-isolating – The SSP manual has been updated to say those shielding will be paid from day 1 of their period of incapacity for work, as well as those self isolating.

EMPLOYMENT:

Guidance for employers claiming wages through the Job Rentention Scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

HOUSING

Shelter have update their information on a range of housing related issues. Just a reminder – all court proceedings for eviction are on hold until at least 25 June 2020, regardless of when a landlord applied to court. Read more: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus

Students whose face-to-face courses have ended may still be liable for rent unless their tenancy contains a break clause, and in shared houses, people are likely to be ‘jointly and severally liable’ for rent. Whilst many educational establishments have waived rent due for university owned accommodation, private landlords may be less inclined to do so. Students can try to negotiate with their landlord, who might agree to release them early (called a ‘surrender’ of tenancy), or to waive or reduce rent due to the Coronavirus outbreak if the student is not living in the accommodation. A good set of FAQs for a number of issues students may have is here: https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2020/04/09/university-students-covid19-faq/

DEBT

The IVA Protocol has been updated, for example those affected by Covid-9 could ask for a reduction in payments of up to 25% without a creditor vote, or ask for a 3 month payment break. Read the updated guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-individual-voluntary-arrangement-iva-protocol-guidance

HMRC coronavirus helpline : For those struggling to pay a tax bill, contact HMRC straight away on:
Telephone: 0800 0159 559 Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm https://www.gov.uk/difficulties-paying-hmrc

Financial Conduct Authority – Covid-19 information: https://www.fca.org.uk/coronavirus

LEGAL MATTERS

Judiciary information on services during Covid-19: https://www.judiciary.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-and-guidance/

CAFCASS information for children and families: https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parents-and-carers/covid-19-guidance-for-children-and-families/

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

FLOWS – Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors: Delivered by the Family Team of RCJ Advice, in partnership with Rights of Women,can provide advice about the legal options available, and can be contacted by front line workers or if you are a domestic abuse survivor.

For Frontline workers: https://referral.flows.org.uk/

Self-referral form: https://self-referral.flows.org.uk/

CONSUMER

SCAMS: Fraudsters are taking advantage of the measures announced by the Government to support people and businesses affected by coronavirus. Scammers text, email or phone taxpayers offering fake financial support or tax refunds, sometimes threatening them with arrest if they don’t immediately pay false tax owe. There is also a scam text that mimics official Government text alerts, and claims you are being fined for leaving your home. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/

And information on the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing

Local Information

Pramalife Friendship Line: support for those who are lonely, provided by a team of volunteers, ‘local people, who will be happy to listen, or talk
about whatever is on your mind’: 01202 022987.

Healthwatch Dorset has launched a survey asking local people to share their stories to help identify how health and care services are adapting and working well during the coronavirus outbreak, and to highlight common challenges that need to be addressed. https://healthwatchdorset.co.uk/share-your-stories-to-help-health-services-adapt-during-coronavirus/

Information to support your organisations

Dorset Community Action Webinars on subjects such as fundraising during a crisis, marketing during a crisis, etc: https://www.dorsetcommunityaction.org.uk/support-webinars-during-covid-19/

Civil Society: Latest news, analysis and advice about the coronavirus for charities and social enterprises – and you can sign up for their enews: https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news.html

Training

Policy in Practice Webinar – Recap of the major benefit changes and Covid-19: Wednesday 6 May 10.30 – 11.30, free but need to register here:

http://policyinpractice.co.uk/events/

ACAS briefings: Furlough Leave – the HMRC Job Retention Scheme. Still places available on Tuesday 5 May, 10.30 – 11.30 and Thursday 7 May 2-3, Free but need to register here: https://www.acas.org.uk/webinars and can also see recordings of previous webinars.

Funding News

Morrison’s Foundation – Covid 19 Homeless Support Fund: Registered charities that care for the homeless can apply for support (up to £10k) to cover three broad areas:

● Outreach and support for rough sleepers, including provision of essentials

● Delivery of services in hostels and shelters

● Information and advice

Read more; https://www.morrisonsfoundation.com/latest-news/covid-19/

MIND – Coronavirus mental Health response Fund: The funding is intended to enable increased availability of mental health support delivered for people experiencing, or at risk of developing, mental health problems during the coronavirus crisis. The Fund aims to:

  • Mobilise rapid support as the demand grows by funding expert organisations across England, getting support to people with and at risk of developing mental health problems as soon as possible.
  • Provide an increase in effective services, preventing escalation of need, reducing waiting lists, enabling providers to flex their services for the current situation and increasing reach to vulnerable groups.

Small grants up to £20,000, large grants £50,000, minimum grant £5,000. Variou closing dates (se very soon…)

https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/campaigns/coronavirus-mental-health-response-fund/