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). 

The Advice Dorset Partnership E news is published fortnightly on a Thursday, BUT if there is something urgent in-between we will send out a short supplementary edition.

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

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Information updates

JUNE’S ADP FACTSHEET:

HOUSING

End to the ban on evictions: From 1 June 2021 where a final order of possession has been made (regardless of the ground on which possession was ordered) and on a landlord or creditor’s application, warrants of eviction will be issued by courts and delivered to tenants. Warrants must give at least 14 days notice of the eviction date – this means evictions that were previously ‘banned’ can start to resume from the week commencing 15 June 2021.

New Notice requirements: For most notices served on or after 1 June 2021 the notice period will be 4 months. This includes Section 21 Notices. The exceptions to this will depend on the date the notice was served, someone’s tenancy status and the ground or case the landlord is relying on to seek possession. NB: notices on some rent arrears grounds change on 1 August 2021.

Shelter’s information has been updated here, and Citizens Advice here; see also articles below.

The National Housing Federation has updated their commitment to support residents struggling to pay their rent. Read their statement. When pursuing possession action, all social landlords must follow the pre-action protocol.

EMPLOYMENT

Furlough Scheme: From 1 July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced and employers will be asked to contribute towards the cost of their furloughed employees’ wages (10% in July increasing to 20% in August and September). To be eligible for the grant they must continue to pay furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they spend on furlough. Read the Govt guidance here and ACAS guidance here.

SEISS 5th grant: This will cover the period May to September 2021, but this time will be based on how much turnover has been reduced in the period April 2020 – April 2021. More details available at the end of June

Turnover reduction    How much                                                   Maximum grant
30% or more                 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits     £7,500
less than 30%               30% of 3 months’ average trading profits     £2,850

BENEFITS

Housing benefit – shared accommodation rate: The shared accommodation rate of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) applies to Housing Benefit (HB) claimants under 35, living alone and renting privately and is based on the cost of renting a room in shared accommodation. There are changes to the exemptions from 31 May 2021; claimants will be expected to self-identify to claim an exemption – it should be noted that there is ‘no legal requirement for the local authority to take this action’ ie. to contact claimants who may be affected. The exemptions are:

  • care leaver exemption – the upper age limit to qualify for the for care leavers’ exemption is extended from 22 up to 25
  • homeless hostel exemption – the lower age limit of 25 for the homeless hostel exemption is lowered to 16

Read the DWP guidance to local authorities here.

Benefit overpayments – DWP’s recovery guidance reviewed: Following a judicial review claim lodged by the Public Law project, the DWP have now made it clear that it has discretion to waive Recoverable Hardship Payments (‘RHPs’) regardless of whether the claimant meets the requisite earnings threshold. Read more on this on the PLP website.

For more Benefits News, go to the Benefits Training Co’s June update.

DEBT

Bailiffs: The ban on Bailiffs visiting a property has also been lifted as from 1 June 2021. Citizens Advice information is here, and the CIVEA guidance on enforcement visits is here.

OTHER

EUSS – proving status: The Govt has produced guidance on how to prove immigration status aimed at EEA and Swiss citizens. This covers a number of topics including crossing the UK border, updating details and how to prove digital immigration status electronically using the ‘View and Prove’ service on GOV.UK.

Scams: Information on spotting and avoiding scams and what to do if you have been scammed can be found on Citizens Advice. There is also information, plus links for reporting scams, on the Trading Standards Scams team webpage. Read more about Scams Awareness fortnight under the Events section below.

HMRC Tax Credit Renewal Scams: In a recent Press Release HMRC warns of suspicious contacts related to annual tax credit renewals, such as malicious telephone numbers and web pages, and the potential for anyone doing their renewal to be tricked by a tax or benefits scam email or text into sharing personal details or even transferring money. Advice is offered as to how to distinguish real from bogus HMRC contacts, as well as with renewing tax credit claims. Read more here.

PARTNERS

Don’t forget the Wessex Water Partnerhub for useful information on schemes and support, and you can sign up for their newsletter.

Events

Carers Week 7 – 14 June: Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support. Read more here . Carer Support Dorset also have information and events here.

LGBTQ+ Month: June is Pride Month – across the globe, various events are held during this special month as a way of recognising the influence LGBT people have had around the world. Whilst progress has been made for LGBTQ+ rights over the last 20 years, there’s still a long way to go: Hate crime is still a problem, LGBTQ+ migrants struggle to get the support they need and trans people often find themselves having to justify their own existence. Various events are listed on the Stonewall website.

Scams Awareness: Citizens Advice runs the Scams Awareness campaign in close collaboration with the Consumer Protection Partnership, bringing together key partners in the consumer landscape (incluing Trading Standards service and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) to identify, prioritise and coordinate collective action to tackle detriment. The aim of the campaign is to Equip consumers with the knowledge and skills they need to recognise scams.

Campaign resources – information guidance, downloadable posters/leaflets. presentations, social media pack etc – can be found here.

Policy in Practice: Previous webinars (eg. there was recent one on the Breathing Space scheme) can be accessed here, and the next ones in the diary are on 23 June, aimed at Housing providers, and 21 July on coping when Covid-19 welfare support is withdrawn.

Benefits Forum 15 July 2021 [am]: Bookings for this free event will open shortly. We have confirmed speakers from Jobcentre Plus and a senior benefits officer from Dorset Council.

Research, reports, blogs….

NHAS: Breathing Space – arrears and eviction: Breathing space is an important new tool in homeless prevention. In this article, Alexa Walker and Nicola McEwen explain how breathing space can be used by anyone helping people in rent or mortgage arrears.  Read more here.

Ripping off the sticking plaster: The eviction ‘ban’ has been a vital protection brought in to stop renters losing their homes during the pandemic. But, it was only ever a sticking plaster. It didn’t stop landlords giving their tenants eviction notices or taking court action….this means they could start to be evicted once the ban lifts next week. Read this Citizens Advice blog.

Understanding the impact of Covid19 on tribunals: This report from the Legal Education Foundation examines issues including the satisfaction with the technology used in remote hearings, access to and ability to participate in hearings, identifying vulnerability, levels of representation, communication, and perceptions of fairness. It also has detailed recommendations across a number of the areas considered. Read the report here.

Funding News

Garfield Weston Foundation: The Foundation awards grants for capital, project and revenue costs to UK registered charities working within the UK in the areas of Welfare, Youth, Community, Arts, Faith, Environment, Education, Health and Museums & Heritage.

The Foundation offers two levels of funding, which can be used towards capital, revenue or project costs:

  • Regular Grants of up to £100,000.
  • Major Grants of £100,000 and above. (When awarding major grants, the Foundation typically expects the project and organisation’s overall annual income to be in excess of £1 million.)

Typically grants are made for a single year; however, the Trustees may consider a multi-year request for up to three years for previously successful applicants, provided they can demonstrate that a longer term commitment will add value to their organisation’s objectives.

Match funding is required. The Foundation recommends that applicants have around half of their funding identified before applying. A grant is unlikely to be for more than around 10% of the total costs of the budget.

This is a rolling programme – read more here.