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

STARS (Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service) are recruiting for two part-time positions:

  1. P/Time Adult Independent Sexual Violence Adviser – 22 hrs worked over 3 days
  2. P/Time Children & Young peoples Independet Sexual Violence Adviser – 22 hrs worked over 3 days

Full details for both posts and how to apply are on the STARS Dorset website here.

Citizens Advice Central Dorset – Trustee [VOLUNTEER] – Chair of People Subcommittee: CACD are looking for a new trustee to chair the people subcommittee and join the Board which is responsible for the overall direction, vision and oversight of Citizens Advice Central Dorset.

This is a voluntary role, time requirement of 3 to 4 hours per month plus additional meetings. The role requires enthusiasm, a commitment to the aims of Citizens Advice and an interest in people, governance, social justice, training, policies and practises associated with staff, volunteers and trustees. Closing Date: 9th April 2021. Read more:

Information updates

COVID19-RELATED ISSUES

Roadmap out of Lockdown: read more on the government website here.

Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space): Although this does not come in until 4 May 2021, you may want to read the guidance earlier if you are providing money / debt advice. Here is the government link

HOUSING

Eviction ‘ban’ extended to 31 March 2021: The amended regulations are still to b epublised but some evictions can go ahead, for example where a possession order was granted due to:

  • illegal trespass or squatting by persons unknown, 
  • nuisance or antisocial behaviour, 
  • domestic abuse, fraud or deception 
  • properties unoccupied following the death of the defendant 
  • substantial rent arrears 

Evictions following a Section 21 notice can’t go ahead – even if the reason the landlord served the notice is set out above.   In relation to substantial rent arrears, evictions can go ahead where possession was granted on a ground or case related to rent arrears, and arrears are equivalent to at least 6 months rent regardless of when they occurred.  This is different from the previous position where arrears had to be the equivalent to 9 months rent and have accrued prior to 23 March 2020.

Shelter’s information is up to date as at 15 February. Shelter Legal (aimed more at advisers) has been updated here as at 22 February 2021.

The Govt has updated the guidance for private landlords on possession processes, here.

Events

Dorset Community Action. Upcoming events;

  • Roadmap to Re-opening webinar, Wednesday 3 March 11am. Free. Book here.
  • Funding Fair. Wednesday 10 March, from 10 – 4. Costs £15 -£30. Book here.

Reports, briefings etc

Gambling Commission e bulletin: Here is the link to the recent ebulletin, which includes further links, eg. to consumer queries and current consultations.

Citizens Advice – how the pandemic has affected the people we support. This blog reports that half of those coming for help in recent months had a problem which came about because of the pandemic – which has also made it harder to deal with. 8 in 10 felt more stressed, depressed, or anxious as a result of their problem.

Terminally ill people – access to benefits: This debate in Parliament on Monday 22 February call for decisions to be made on two issues: the six-month rule, which means that someone is obliged to provide medical proof that they have six months or less to live so that they can access benefits quickly, and the three-year award, which means terminally ill people have to reapply for benefits if they longer than three years after the benefit is awarded. A review started in 2019, but has not yet led to changes. Read more on Hansard.

Covid19 and the temporary transformation of the Social Security System: This paper, by Richard Machin of Nottingham Trent University, argues that although the UK government’s COVID-19 social security response was necessary, it did not go far enough. A temporary lifting of some prejudicial elements of the social security system was welcome but this still leaves an overly complex system characterised by unacceptable delays in payment, inadequate support for many vulnerable groups, and inconsistent experiences for recipients of different benefits. Read more here.

Universal Credit Statistics: In total, since 13 March 2020 when claims to Universal Credit started to increase in response to restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there have been 4.5 million claims made to Universal Credit. This is nearly two-fifths (39%) of the 11.4 million claims made to Universal Credit since its introduction in April 2013. Read more here.

Banks and vulnerable customers: In the light of new FCA guidance this blog from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute notes that this is a major document setting out what banks and other financial services firms need to do to ensure vulnerable customers — including those with mental health problems — can access the products we all rely on. Follow this link to read the Institute’s initial take on the guidance and what it means for people with mental health problems

Funding News

ESA Community Training Grants of between £5,000 and £20,000 are available for projects supporting people who are unemployed or economically inactive, move closer towards employment.

This is a rolling programme, so you can apply at any time. The deadline for your application to be considered in the next round of decision making is 9am, Monday 22nd March 2021. Read more here.