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

You can view previous editions of the E news HERE.

Jobs

Citizens Advice Central Dorset – GP adviser for the Cranborne and Verwood Practice: An experienced caseworker is required for the Cranborne Practice outreach which is based in Cranborne and Verwood, to work alternate Fridays at either location. This adviser will provide generalist casework and have experience of dealing with a wide range of topics including Benefits, Housing, Debt and Employment issues.

  • Hours: 6 Hours per week (Friday)
  • Salary: £4234 (actual per annum)
  • Closing date: 15 July

Read more here and below.

STARS [Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service] is the only specialist rape crisis service in Dorset supporting those who have been affected by rape and sexual assault. Recently re-commissioned to deliver the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor service throughout Dorset, STARS are seeking two part time people to join the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor Service team:

  • 22hrs per week worked over 3 days
  • Adult Service: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Children & Young Peoples Service: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays
  • Basd t Dorchester office but may need cover Poole
  • Closing date: 22 July 2021

For more information please contact Helen Stevens, CEO on 01202 308856 or email helen.stevens@starsdorset.org. Read more on applying on the website and below.

Information updates

COVID RELATED INFO

Roadmap: Step 3 extension until 19 July – guidance on what you can and cannot do is here.

Business tenancies: Protection from eviction for businesses is being extended to 25 March 2022. Also, statutory demands and winding up petitions against businesses which were due to start again on 1 July are expected to be restricted for a further 3 months to protect companies from creditor enforcement action where their debts relate to the pandemic. Read more here.

There are also the Coronavirus Restart Grants for Businesses available locally – eligible businesses may have been contacted automatically, but if not find out more from these links:

HMRC, self-isolation and furlough: It has been clarified by HMRC that an employer can furlough someone if they are self-isolating, and this can include those isolating because they have returned from a red/amber country. Read the detailed guidance here.

Care home workers and compulsory vaccination: New legislation means from October – subject to Parliamentary approval and a subsequent 16-week grace period – anyone working in a CQC-registered care home in England for residents requiring nursing or personal care must have 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine unless they have a medical exemption. Here’s the Government Press Release, and the Local Govt Association’s initial response.

BENEFITS

Employment and Support Allowance – update from DWP: The DWP are reintroducing Claimant Commitments (CCs) and Action Plans (APs) for all ESA claimants in a phased approach. Work coaches continue to work with claimants to ensure that CCs and APs are reasonable and tailored for their circumstances, allowing them to continue to adhere to COVID-19 public health advice, whilst also considering how they can engage with the labour market or move closer to work.

For all new claims to New Style ESA, processed from 26 April 2021, claimants will be required to have an appointment with a work coach and agree a CC before they can receive New Style ESA.

For New Style ESA claims processed prior to 26 April 2021, the requirement for an agreed CC and for ESA legacy claimants an AP, will be introduced gradually from 28 June 2021. The DWP will contact claimants to arrange an appointment with a work coach and agree a Claimant Commitment or Action Plan.

Pension Credit Toolkit: Pension Credit is an important benefit for people who have reached State Pension age, primarily because it acts as a gateway to many other benefits such as: a free TV licence if also over 75, help with Council Tax, help with rent and a Cold Weather Payment. To raise awareness there was an Action Day last week and the govt Toolkit has recently been updated here. There’s also useful information on the Age UK website. Don’t forget for those people who get their water from Wessex Water there is a discount scheme for low income pensioners, if all the adults in the household receive Pension Credit (or the state pension is their only income). Read more here.

DEBT

Debt Relief Orders from 1 July 2021: The monetary eligibility criteria for DROs changes on 1 July as follows:

  • To increase the total amount of debt allowable from £20,000 to £30,000;
  • To increase the allowable value of assets owned by the individual from £1,000 to £2,000; and
  • To increase the level of allowable surplus income to from £50 to £100 per month.

The fee remains £90 and people still need to apply via a registered Intermediary, but this may become a debt option available to more people who are struggling with problem debt. More information on DROs is on the Citizens Advice website here.

IMMIGRATION

EU Settled Status: The 30 June deadline is looming…… It is now possible to apply on a paper form. This should only be used if someone is having “significant difficulty applying through the online application process, that cannot be resolved with support from our assisted digital provider, you do not hold a valid passport or national identity card and wish to rely on alternative evidence of your identity and nationality (or of your entitlement to apply from outside the UK)”. Follow this link.

Don’t forget Citizens Advice BCP is still able to help people with applications.

Right to work checks for EU/EEA Nationals: This guidance has also been updated nad in summary:

  • There is no requirement for employers to re-check EEA citizens employed before 1 July 2021
  • EEA citizens who apply for a job after 30 June need a lawful status – or to have applied to the EUSS – and should not be employed if they haven’t.
  • Employers may not have to dismiss employees who started work before 30 June, where the employer finds out that they haven’t applied and don’t have a lawful status. They can continue to employ them if the employee applies to the EUSS within 28 days of the employer learning this, provides their certificate of application, and the employer uses the Employer Checking Service to confirm this. If they don’t, then they can be dismissed.

Read the employer’s guide here.

Right to rent checks: The Landlord’s guide to right to rent checks has also been updated to reflect how EEA nationals can prove their rent to rent from 1 July 2021. Those with settled or pre-settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme will have digital evidence of their status which can be shared with landlords using the online checking service. There is also a landlord’s guide and information on how EEA nationals with other types of leave can prove their right to rent.

View and Prove Service: For people who have been told they can view their immigration status online, they can use this service to:

  • get a ‘share code’ to prove their status to others, for example employers
  • update personal details in a UK Visas and Immigration account, for example passport number or email address
  • check what rights they have in the UK, for example the right to work, rent or claim benefits

Read more here.

LOCAL NEWS

Dorset Community Action’s latest Newsletter is here.

OTHER

Scams Awareness fortnight: Get advice on Scams here on the Citizens Advice website.

Own your home: This is a new govt campaign which targets first time buyers to help provide a greater awareness and understanding of the government home ownership schemes to help them own their own home. The list of the help available includes the new and growing First Homes scheme, the mortgage guarantee scheme, Help to Buy: Equity Loans, Shared Ownership, Stamp Duty relief and Right to Buy for council tenants. Read more here.

Mobile Homes: The Mobile Homes (Requirement for Manager of Site to be Fit and Proper Person) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, here, mean that land can only be used as a residential site if the local authority is satisfied the owner or manager of the site is a fit and proper person to manage the site. The purpose of the test is to improve the standards of park (mobile) home site management. Local authorities must be ready to take applications on 1 July and owners or managers must have made an application by 1 October 2021.

Also advance warning about the 2021 Warm Homes Discount for mobile homes: Park home applications for winter 2021 to 2022 will open in autumn 2021. People can register their interest by completing the Park Homes Warm Home Discount contact form to be told when the scheme reopens.

Contact Charis Grants for more information about the scheme: Charis Grants Ltd, Telephone: 0330 555 9424.

Events

Benefits Forum – Thursday 15 July 9.30 – 1. A reminder that booking for this free event are now open on Eventbrite.

‘Back to normal – coping when Covid support is withdrawn’: This Policy in Practice webinar will look at which Covid-19 protections are ending, and when, and what this means for low-income households, and what the end of the eviction ban may mean for people facing problem debt. Weds 21 July, 10.30 – 11.45. Register here.

Research, reports, blogs etc

SCAMS AWARENESS FORTNIGHT

Scams are everywhere: This Citizens Advice blog encourage people to talk about and report scams, because reporting informs the work of advice or enforcement agencies to prevent future scams. Read more here.

36 million Brits targeted so far this year …. This Citizens Advice press release reports on research which shows that more than two thirds of adults (36 million) have been targeted by a scammer since January. 2021. While over 55s are most likely to be targeted, those 34 and under are almost five times more likely to fall victim to a scam than their older counterparts. Younger people were most likely to be targeted by text or messaging service (61%), while those over 55 were most likely to be targeted over the phone (73%).   Read more HERE.

CPAG Press Release on the Benefit Cap: Recent DWP figures show the number of households subject to the benefit cap has jumped by 13% since November to reach 200,000 at February 2021. The newly capped households are likely capped because they have lost jobs or working hours to Covid-19 and their wages have dropped below the earnings exemption threshold. But with the impact of the pandemic still being felt, few will be able to find replacement earnings to become ‘uncapped’. Average losses are £62 per week for capped families. Read more here.

Funding News

Local Connections Fund – Round 2 – opens 28 June: The National Lottery Community Fund is running this round of the Local Connections Fund, which is a £4 million fund to help charities and community groups in England that are working to reduce loneliness by helping them build connections across their communities. Round 2 will focus on:

  • activities that physically bring people together in a safe and secure way
  • remote activities (when this is the best or only way for people to build connections) – for example, remote activities may benefit people who are geographically isolated, people with illnesses or disabilities, or those who are not quite ready to meet people in face-to-face settings
  • helping individuals to get out of the ‘lockdown mentality’ and meet people in their communities again
  • helping organisations who work to reduce loneliness restart their activities – for example, cleaning and refreshing meeting spaces or refreshing materials, and ensuring equipment is ready to be used.

Grats of £300 – £2,500. Keep your eye on their website here.