The Advice Dorset Partnership E news is published fortnightly on a Thursday (except this week as Thursday is a Bank Hol), BUT if there is something urgent in-between we will send out a short supplementary edition. Due to annual leave, edition No 6 will be on Thursday 23 June.

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 Dorset email:  mailto:caroline.buxton@centralca.org.uk

You can view previous editions of the E news HERE.

Jobs

STARS (Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service): Two roles – Full Time Adult ISVA supporting Male Clients, and Part Time Finance Officer 10-15hrs per week. Read more here.

Information updates

June Fact Sheet:

UKRAINE

The updated Govt Guide is here. Information about opening a bank account has been updated with links to various banks – see pages 14 – 15. A Citizens Advice colleague found a useful page on North Devon Council’s website with more detail on what ID major banks may require and/or accept.

Applying for visa: Video on you tube Top Tips on applying to the Ukraine Schemes for a UK visa; English version is here but there are also versions in Ukrainian and Russian.

COST OF LIVING ISSUES

Citizens Advice Central Dorset have prepared a 2 page summary of help available and links, feel free to copy /circulate etc:

Govt Policy Paper Factsheet on the measures announced by the Chancellor on 26 May. In summary:

Cost of Living Payment: Households on means tested benefits will receive a payment of £650 this year, made in two instalments. This includes all households receiving the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Pension Credit

The payment will be made in two lump sums, the first from July, the second in the autumn. Payments from HMRC for those on tax credits only will follow shortly after each to avoid duplicate payments. Claimants will need to be in receipt of one of these benefits, or have begun a claim which is later successful, as of 25 May 2022 to be eligible for the first of the two instalments. This payment will be tax-free, will not count towards the benefit cap, and will not have any impact on existing benefit awards.

Disability Cost of living Payment: People across the UK who receive the following disability benefits will receive a one-off payment of £150:

  • Disability Living Allowance (including Child Disability Living Allowance)
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Scottish Disability Benefits
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

For the many disability benefit recipients who receive means tested benefits, this £150 will come on top of the £650 they will receive separately. As with the other Cost of Living Payment these payments will also be exempt from tax, will not count towards the benefit cap, and will not have any impact on existing benefit awards.

Energy Bills Support Scheme: Households will get £400 of support with their energy bills through an expansion of the Energy Bills Support Scheme. The full £400 payment will now be made as a grant, which will not be recovered through higher bills in future years.

Household Support Fund: To support people who need additional help, the Government is providing an extra £500 million of local support, via the Household Support Fund, which will be extended from October 2022 to March 2023. Local details will be available shortly.

Council Tax ‘energy bills’ rebate scheme: Both local authorities are now processing the £150 rebate for those in Council Tax bands A – D. For people who pay by direct debit this payment is made to the account the Council has details of. Those who don’t pay by direct debt, or receive full Council Tax Support, need to apply. For more information on the process:

  • In Dorset people are currently receiving letters telling them how to apply – this is an online process: Dorset Council
  • Similarly, BCP Council is in the process of writing to those people who need to make a claim.

FCA advice to Building Societies in response to the cost of living crisis: The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) expects Building Societies to support consumers who are struggling to pay or showing signs of financial difficulty. Lenders are reminded to:

  • engage early
  • consider helping borrowers switch to a cheaper option where available
  • train staff to identify and work with vulnerable borrowers
  • ensure good outcomes by tailoring forbearance to individual circumstances

It’s expected that other lenders will be asked to take similar steps. The 2021 Coronavirus Tailored Support Guidance remains the standard for firms dealing with borrowers in financial difficulty.

Energy suppliers told to support customers who can’t pay: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have written to Ofgem saying that ‘Suppliers have an obligation to support customers in payment difficulties… If suppliers are not doing so, this appears to be a direct contravention of a supplier’s Supply Licence Conditions (278a) that require suppliers to support customers in payment difficulty.’

OTHER

Child maintenance – new online service: A new online service to support people in making decisions in child maintenance cases has been launched on GOV.UK. This new service will replace Child Maintenance Options (CMO) to help people consider different ways to make financial arrangements for child support. This will now be the gateway to making a claim online via the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). The service will be available 24/7 and the DWP say it will be quicker to use as a CMS application can be done in one sitting rather than requiring a call back as before via the CMO telephone service. The DWP says that people who cannot access an online service or need help to do so can still speak to a CMS case worker on 0800 171 2345 which is available 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

Boiler upgrade scheme: The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) is now open for grant applications and payments. Grants of either £5,000 or £6,000 depending on the type of installation, are available for air source heat pumps or biomass boilers or ground source heat pumps. The grant application process is carried out by the installer. read more on the Ofgem website.

Immigration – Citizenship fee waiver for children: The Home Office has published a new policy providing a fee waiver for some children applying to be registered as British citizens. The policy states that the fee – currently £1,012 – should be waived if the child and their parent(s) ‘have credibly demonstrated’ that they cannot afford the fee after meeting their essential living needs. Read the caseworker guidance here.

Flight cancellations: A lot of this in the news this week! Citizens Advice has useful information on claiming compensation if your flight is cancelled or delayed – here.

Events

Advice Dorset Partnership – Cost of living Crisis – Briefing: A Zoom briefing on Thursday 30 June, 3 – 5pm with updates from Citizens Advice, Age UK, Faithworks and others. It will cover government support, ensuring people are getting all the benefits they are entitled to, grants, money saving tips including social tariffs, and information on local support and projects. Book via eventbrite – it’s free!

Carers Week 6 – 12 June: Read local news and information on the Our Dorset website.

Refugee Action workshop – Monday 13 June, 11 – 12.30: Refugee Action is launching a new report on access to immigration advice. The report is commissioned by Refugee Action and funded by the Community Justice Fund and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. RA are holding regional online workshops, which could be useful for getting a comprehensive picture of the advice available in our area and possibly making contact with other offices and organisations.  Book here.

Pension Credit day – Weds 15 June 2022: The Department for Work and Pension’s Pension Credit campaign is building towards a day of action on Wednesday 15 June 2022. The campaign aims to help with the challenges some pensioners are facing with the cost of living. So far, national newspapers and social and digital channels have been carrying messages reminding pensioners they should check their eligibility for financial support. The Pension Credit calculator is the quickest and easiest way to do this.

Scams Awareness fortnight – 13 – 26 June: Citizens Advice runs the Scams Awareness campaign in close collaboration with the Consumer Protection Partnership. This brings together key partners in the consumer landscape to identify, prioritise and coordinate collective action to tackle detriment. Read more here – you can also sign up for resources.

Webinar: How to identify and support Just About Managing households using data. This is a Policy in Practice webinar on Wednesday 29 June, 10:30-12:00. Register here.

Reports, research, blogs etc

In the Red Index – A new tool from Citizens Advice for understanding the cost of living crisis: More and more people are coming to Citizens Advice in financial crisis than at any point since the start of the pandemic. One of our most powerful indicators we have for what’s going on with people’s finances comes from our debt advice. But for almost half of the people we help, because of the cost of living crisis, our advisers now just can’t make the sums add up. They’re in what we call a negative budget……read more here.

Managed Migration to UC – how to help people on legacy benefits: From Monday 9 May DWP resumes the managed migration of people who claim benefits from legacy benefits to Universal Credit. The first two areas to go live will be Bolton and Medway. This Policy in Practice blog explores how managed migration to Universal Credit will affect people differently, how a benefits calculator can help, and other steps that organisations can take to support people to complete the move.

UC overpayment deductions – an inflexible system causing destitution: Debt owed to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is pushing people into destitution, according to recent research by The Trussell Trust. The Public Law Project is calling for a system where the DWP adopts a fairer and more flexible approach that properly takes account of the circumstances and potential hardship faced by individuals. Read more on the Legal Action Group website.

Funding News

Hilden Charitable Foundation: The aim of the Fund is to address disadvantage, notably by supporting causes which are unlikely to raise funds from public subscriptions. Both the UK and overseas fund policy is directed largely at supporting work at community level. Grants of up to £7k. Two priority areas:

  • Asylum Seekers: For organisations working to provide essential services which help meet the needs of asylum seekers and refugees and support their integration into the wider community.
  • Penal Affairs: Funding should support work “through the door” where organisations go into prisons with projects and support to help prisoners (especially women) cope and/or maintain family bonds and to be better able to resettle positively when released. Post-release projects which support positive settlement and reduce the risk of re-offending are also welcomed.

Closing date for current round – 3 July. Read more here.

Western Power Distribution – Community Matters Fund: Non-profit groups and Local Authorities can now apply for their share of a £500,000 funding pot to address poverty, particularly over the school holidays. Localgiving will distribute grants of up to £2,500 for projects which align with at least one of the following themes:

  • Providing food to families affected by holiday hunger, eg food parcels and serving meals.
  • Delivering services to assist families affected by holiday hunger, eg food pantries.
  • Delivering educational activities focused on skills development and ongoing support to reduce food poverty (could include cookery classes, budgeting support, benefits and debt advice).
  • Offering innovative approaches to holiday hunger and food poverty.

Closing date 14 June. Read more here.