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 and volunteer roles

The Advice Dorset Partnership has a steering group made up of senior staff from a number of local organisations. For over 5 years we have been very effectively ‘chaired’ by an independent chair who is now stepping down. We are now looking for someone to take on this role. A few points:

  • The independent chair needs an interest in the work of the information, advice and guidance sector, services delivered, issues faced, but is not someone directly employed delivering or managing advice services. (though they may have been in the past)
  • Some knowledge of the wider VCSE and the local contexts in Dorset and BCP would be helpful.
  • Experience chairing and facilitating meetings, and encouraging a focus on actions and outcomes, are needed.
  • The time commitment is variable but on average the previous chair estimated no more than 1 day/mth; there are four  3-hr meetings per year, usually f2f but obviously by zoom currently, and additional work, subgroups etc in between as required
  • Administrative support to the group is provided by Caroline Buxton.
  • This is a volunteer role.

We would ask that you share this information with anyone you know who may be interested from both within and external to your organisation

To find out more, contact Caroline Buxton.

Information Updates

The FEBRUARY ADP Fact Sheet is here:

COVID-19 LOCKDOWN SUPPORT

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme modifications; The CJRS will continue in its current form and is extended to the end of April 2021. There are some amendments to dates, deadlines, calculating earnings periods etc. You can read the Treasury Direction here.

Holds on Action

Mortgages: The FCA have updated their guidance that Lenders should not enforce repossessions, except in exceptional circumstances, before 1 April 2021.  They’ve also updated the guidance on Consumer Credit – repossession of goods and vehicles. read more here.

Possession Proceedings – Provisions: Theses set out the procedure for how possession proceedings are to be restarted following the lifting of the stay on possession claims on 3 August 2020 and how new claims are to be temporarily managed. The provisions had been due to expire on 28 March 2021 but this has now been extended to 30 July 2021. Practice Direction 55C provides that to restart a possession claim which was subject to a stay before 3 August 2020, or to restart a stayed claim in which case management directions had been made before 20 September 2020, a reactivation notice has to be filed at court by one of the parties. The last date for filing a reactivation notice has been extended from 29 January 2021 to 30 April 2021. After 30 April, if no reactivation notice has been served the claim will be stayed automatically.

BENEFITS

Recovery of overpayments from benefits such as Universal Credit. Some clients are experiencing increased financial hardship because of amounts deducted from their benefits for overpayment and debts. The Public Accounts Committee raised concerns in a report in November and the DWP have responded saying: All customers or their representatives can contact Debt Management if they are experiencing financial hardship in order to request a reduction in their rate of repayment or a temporary suspension of repayment, depending on their financial circumstances. The department’s analysts are currently looking at how the department can use financial data to help identify vulnerable customers at source so that deductions can be tailored, and collection strategies refined.

For more information on deductions go to Citizens Advice. The DWP Debt Management contact centre can be contacted by phone: 0800 916 0647, and in other ways – see the information here.

IMMIGRATION

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents. Govt information was updated on 27 January and covers issues for poeple who are abroad and those in teh UK, including:

  • Minimum income threshold: The period that can now be taken into account for those unable to meet the income requirement due to Covid has been extended to between 1 March 2020 and 31 May 2021. If income is lost then the period will be disregarded as long as the income requirement can be met in the 6 months prior to the loss of income. For self employed people this entire period may be disregarded. If a person is on furlough income will be regarded as being at 100.
  • For migrants who left the UK before 17 March 2020 and whose visa expired while they are abroad: They must have been unable to travel either because of restrictions or because they did not want to risk their family contracting Covid. They will be given 3 months leave outside the rules to enter the UK during which time they can apply for a new visa.

Read more HERE.

UTILITIES

Green Network Energy and Simplicity Energy have stopped trading. It’s been announced that EDF have now been appointed as the new supplier for Green Network Energy and British Gas Evolve have been appointed for Simplicity Energy. For more detail go to the Ofgem website.

DEBT

Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space); This scheme will start on 4 may 221 and will give someone in problem debt the right to legal protections from creditor action. Debt advice providers will be able to set up a breathing space for clients to give them time to get advice and find an appropriate debt solution. There are 2 types of breathing space: a standard breathing space and a mental health crisis breathing space. Read the gudance here.

Debt Relief Order A – Z Guide. The updated version (January 2021) is here.

Local Information

Ansbury: Careers guidance for those over 19 is available by phone on 01202 677557. They also have a range of service for young people – go th the Ansbury website here.

Recently, Kathryn from Ansbury and Caroline from Citizens Advice joined Katrina, Tee and Kyle from the Discovery Project to record a podcast on how the Covid-19 Pandemic is affecting young people and their future careers. You can listen to it here.

Poverty Truth Network: Any talk about poverty must include people who experience the struggle against it. This is at the heart of the Poverty Truth Network. Our strapline captures this, ‘nothing about us, without us, is for us.’ We believe that better responses to poverty will be made if they include people who have experienced it. It is that simple and that challenging. ……There are plans for a Poole and Bournemouth commission

Reports, research, blogs, other news….

How to spot Loan Fee Fraud: This is when scammers contact people who are looking for loans and ask them to pay an upfront fee. Scammers often pressure people to pay the upfront fee quickly, or they might ask for payment in an unusual way such as with vouchers or a money transfer. Ultimately, the victim never receives the loan. It’s an increasingly common scam with people losing £220 on average because of these scams. This short blog from Citizens Advice gives tips on how to spot this scam.

Buy-now-pay-later: With a surge in people using these products (eg through Klarna and ClearPay), a review of the unsecured credit market recommends bringing interest-free buy-now-pay-later into FCA supervision. The BBC reports that these services were used by five million people in the UK last year for total sales of £2.7bn. However, one in 10 people using them already had debt arrears elsewhere, The FCA also say is’s easy to build up unforeseen debts of £100o. Read more on the Govt website and the BBC.

Policy in Practice: January Newsletter is here.

Events

February is LGBTQ+ History Month: The theme is ‘Body, Mind, Spirit’ and like the last few years, is linked to a National Curriculum subject. More information, posters and free resources are available here.

Free Disability Confident webinars: A number of webinars are available which provide practical advice on key disability employment subjects. These webinars are being delivered by Disability Confident Leaders: Do-IT, Seetec Pluss, KPMG and AdviserPlus. The webinars will be facilitated by Professor Amanda Kirby and are sponsored by Microsoft

  • Practical strategies for effective and inclusive remote team working: Thursday 11 February 11.30 – 12. Book here.
  • Supporting employees to return safely back to work. Thursday 18 February 11.30 – 12. Book here.

DCA Funding Fair: Wednesday 4 March 2021, 10 – 4 (virtual event, fee £15 – £30): more info and booking, follow this LINK.

Funding News

Energy Redress Scheme: The core priority of the Fund is to support energy consumers in vulnerable situations, but funding is also available for the development of innovative products and services related to energy. Grants of between £20,000 and £750,000 are available and can be used for capital or revenue funding. Projects lasting up to two years can be funded.

The deadline for Round 10 applications is 5pm on Thursday 11 February 2021. Read more here.

Veolia Trust has 2 grant streams:

  • Community Grant Scheme: available to constituted not-for-profit organisations and local authorities. Grants of between £10,000 and £75,000 are available to create or improve buildings or outside spaces for the benefit of the community. Please download our criteria document for further details.
  • Environmental Improvement Grant Scheme: available to Environmental Bodies that are enrolled with ENTRUST, the regulator of The Landfill Communities Fund. Grants of over £75,000 are available to enable landscape scale improvement projects such as habitat creation/management, and/or species protection.

Read more here.