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 on her Citizens Advice Central Doset email [from May the E News will be sent out from this address]:  mailto:caroline.buxton@centralca.org.uk

Covid19 Information updates

BENEFITS

Pension Credit can be claimed online from 4 May 2020. The recent Memorandum is here (and assume the GOV website will be updated soon): http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/456/pdfs/uksiem_20200456_en.pdf

Post Office cash: Cash delivery payments are now available for the most vulnerable individuals through the Post Office working in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The cash payments are available to the DWP to use to support their most vulnerable customers, initially in England, who are shielding because of the risk of infection should they leave their home.

The National Shielding Service is a working partnership with DWP that enables contact to be made with specific customers to determine if they need to receive a cash payment to be delivered. When notified by DWP of those individuals who require a cash delivery, the Post Office will ensure cash is sent to their home using Royal Mail Special Delivery and that it arrives by 9pm the following day. This means that those individuals who must avoid leaving the home because of the risk of infection receive the cash that they need.

http://corporate.postoffice.co.uk/our-media-centre#/pressreleases/post-office-launches-new-cash-delivery-option-to-help-the-most-vulnerable-2993187

DEBT / MONEY MATTERS

Payment Breaks: The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed protections for those affected by the coronavirus from 27 April. The guidance covers; car finance, payday loans, buy now pay later, rent to own and pawn agreements. There’ll be a 1 month payment freeze for payday loans and 3 month deferment for the rest.  Read more: https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-confirms-support-motor-finance-and-high-cost-credit-customers

New bailiff regulations include preventing bailiffs taking control of goods at residential premises and on highways while coronavirus restrictions are in place:http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/451/contents/made

EMPLOYMENT

Furlough – more detail on specific situations:

  • Employees on fixed term contracts: An employer can renew a fixed term contract in order to keep an employee on furlough.  The amended guidance now says that the employer can also re-hire a fixed term employee after their contract has ended and furlough them, in certain circumstances.
  • Statutory payments (SSP, SMP, SPP etc): People whose period of family-related pay begins on or after 25 April 2020, will be assessed on their usual, full pay rather than at the 80% payable under Furlough.

Full guidance for employers: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

IMMIGRATION

Asylum Accommodation and Applications: Fact sheet from the Home Office: https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2020/04/26/factsheet-asylum-accommodation-and-applications/

Visas issues: For advice for visa customers and applicants in the UK, visa customers outside of the UK and British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus, go to: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents

Other Local Information

Dorset Community Action – ‘State of the Sector’ Survey: DCA write: We appreciate that everyone is under enormous pressure at this time of national emergency, both personally and professionally.  However, it is important that we are able to share the struggles that you and your organisation are facing at this unprecedented time.

In order for us to do this, we need your help.  If you could complete our State of The Sector in Dorset Survey – we will ensure that the results are shared with decision-makers, both locally and nationally.  We will also make sure that the support DCA gives will be directly linked to the support you need. The survey shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes of your time. It would be helpful if you could complete the survey by – Midnight Thursday 7th May.   Thank you for your time and stay safe.

Follow this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VMBV722

EUS Settlement Scheme (‘EUSS’): support with making applications for settled status is available from Citizens Advie BCP – contact details:

Counselling for key workers: Colliton Street Psychotherapy Service (Dorchester) are offering 6 sessions (free) by zoom/skype etc to key workers. Telephone: 07714 330120. More info; http://www.psychotherapydorset.co.uk/

Jolly Postal Service: local support for people with memory loss is now  reaching out to isolated people who are not on line by sending them something cheerful in the post.  They will receive a personal letter, cards or a drawing from a local school child.  If people respond and write back they will continue to write to them. This is a free service and open to all. Read more:

Information for your organisation

Government guide for the VCSE: published 12 April 2020, with lots of links to other websites: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-guidance-for-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-organisations

ICO Blog: Video Conferencing: whilst video-conferencing is proving immensely useful, organisations still need to be careful about potential issues to avoid prioritising ‘convenience over security’. Read more; https://ico.org.uk/global/data-protection-and-coronavirus-information-hub/blog-video-conferencing-what-to-watch-out-for/

Protect your organisation from opportunistic scams: useful article from Bates Wells: https://bateswells.co.uk/2020/04/beware-coronavirus-fraud-top-tips-for-protecting-your-organisation-from-opportunistic-scams/

Training

Benefits Training Co – Benefits Question Time: follow the link to the recent recording: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgxwHNCtwvnRWdkZlhhhhHBSwBvCP

Funding News

An update from then Garfield Weston Foundation: At this challenging time please be reassured that the Foundation is fully open and we have a range of active measures in place, as follows:

  • We gave a pre-launch donation of £1million to the National Emergency Trust in partnership with community foundations to ensure funds go to those who need it most
  • We have partnered with The Fore in the creation of the RAFT resilience fund for small charities to support cash flow during this challenging period
  • We remain open to new applications as well as providing clear guidance for charities wishing to change the use of existing grants and we offer flexibility around timescales and reporting
  • We are collaborating with others to remain well-informed and joined-up; including being on the Operations Working group for the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)
  • We are convening exceptional meetings of Trustees as needed to expedite decisions
  • We are taking a phased approach to grants; including considering medium term core costs needs as well as planning for longer-term strategic projects
  • The Foundation has robust technology and processes so can work well remotely – we are open!

National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal

Our Trustees have made a £1million contribution to this fund which will work with the network of 46 local Community Foundations across the UK to distribute funds to charities that are best placed to support people in the most need at a local level.  If your charity is supporting people affected by the outbreak and you need urgent support, you can find your local Community Foundation and get in touch with them at: https://www.ukcommunityfoundations.org/our-network.

Read more from Garfield Weston at: https://garfieldweston.org/covid-19/

For information about the Dorset Community Foundaion fund go to https://www.dorsetcommunityfoundation.org/dorset-coronavirus-community-fund/