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

CPAG is recruiting a Welfare Rights Adviser for its new Survive and Thrive domestic abuse project.

This 12 month role will be home-based with occasional travel to CPAG’s London office and other locations when public health rules allow. The role is open to job share and other flexible working arrangements. CPAG will also consider applicants seeking a secondment from their current employer. Salary: £34,035 – £37,61. Read more here.

Information updates

BUDGET HEADLINES

  • Furlough extended until the end of September
  • Government to continue paying 80% of employees’ wages for hours they cannot work
  • Employers to be asked to contribute 10% in July and 20% in August and September
  • Support for the self-employed also to be extended until September
  • 600,000 more self-employed people will be eligible for help as access to grants is widened
  • £20 uplift in Universal Credit worth £1,000 a year to be extended for another six months
  • Working Tax Credit claimants will get £500 one-off payment
  • Minimum wage to increase to £8.91 an hour from April
  • UC: self-employed Minimum Income Floor suspended until July 2021

A good summary of the benefits issues is on rightsnet.

OTHER ISSUES

Lockdown / Roadmap: There is a useful summary on the Govt pages here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme [CJRS]: Latest here.

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021.
  • Claims for furlough days in February 2021 must be made by 15 March 2021.
  • You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.

Housing – ban on evictions: Most evictions are on hold until after 31 March 2021. According to the government guidance to landlords, bailiffs will not carry out an eviction if they are made aware that the tenant or anyone  they live with has coronavirus, is self-isolating or has been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable even if one of the exceptions to the ban apply. Tenants should make the court aware as soon as possible if this applies to them. Read Shelter’s information here.

DWP updates:

People recently advised to shield: may be able to work from home, or could be furloughed under the CJRS (see above); there is fuller guidance on options and other financial support here.

The Access to Work grant scheme could provide support to enable people with disabilities or health conditions start a new job or stay in work. The support offered is based on individual needs, and could include a grant to assist with additional costs of practical support in the workplace or for those working from home. Read more here.

UTILITIES

Warm Home Discount: Many schemes have now closed for the 2020/21 winter; however your clients can register interest with some suppliers to receive a reminder as to when applications are opening for their 2021/2022 scheme. Here is the current list updated as at 2 March 2021:

IMMIGRATION

EU Settlement Scheme: The latest quarterly statistics for EUSS applications were released recently.Local authority figures were included in this release. In Dorset, the total applications are  7,310 (up from 6,030 in September) – but this is only 60.9% of the ONS ‘upper estimated’ population in Dorset.

EU nationals without settled status may increasingly find they are unable to to access certain benefits or other assistance, so please encourage people to apply. The Govt guidance is here, and the grace period for applications ends on 30 June 2021.

For those who need help, Citizens Advice BCP are still able to support people making their claims for Pre-Settled and Settled Status. Go to their website for contact details.

GAMBLING SUPPORT

Gamcare have teamed up with partners to help people struggling to control their gambling with a new campaign TalkBanStop  encouraging people to make the most of free tools and support that are available this spring. Read more here.

FAMILY MATTERS

The Financial Remedies Court (FRC) has now been set up as a specialist part of the Family Court to ensure that family finances are resolved efficiently by specialist judges following relationship breakdown. The list is here, and for Dorset it is the Bournemouth Court.

Events, webinars, training

Public Law Project: Judicial Review – on line academy. A complete course, run in short (1hour +) sessions over 4 days (15 – 18 March) to provide lawyers and advisers, policy people and decision makers with an understanding of bringing and defending judicial review claims. The course is also relevant to those working in campaigning organisations with a legal strategy and those representing and advising marginalised groups in society. Fee £132 (discounts available). More details and full programme are here.

Policy in Practice webinar: Boost safeguarding through multi-agency data sharing. This webinar will present  learnings from a powerful project, backed by the LGA and NHS Digital, to link data across adult services, children’s services, public health, the NHS, Police and Fire and Rescue Services. Wednesday 17 March, 10.30 – 11.45. Register here.

Research, reports, blogs etc

Policy in Practice blog – What Covid19 has taught us about the benefit system we want: The UK welfare system is complex, and people must understand a range of frequently changing benefits to know what support they are eligible for. The government has not had a consistent approach, despite Universal Credit’s initial aims to consolidate and simplify support, and it has not yet taken the opportunity offered by the coronavirus crisis to build a more coherent system…… Read more here.

Funding

The Youth Endowment Fund aims to improve the lives of children and young people. They’re building all of their work around a set of themes – the conditions that they think children and young people need in their lives to keep them safe from becoming involved in violence.  Some of these themes open shortly (e. ‘Another Chance’), others later in the year. For the March – April 2021 grant round they are running a series of online workshops for organisations interested in becoming a YEF partner..

This LINK wil take you to the prospectus and details for the workshops.