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

Dorset Council – Refugee Resettlement caseworkers: Dorset Council are looking for two caseworkers to support refugee families to settle in Dorset and adapt to life in the UK. Both roles are full time (37 hours per week) on fixed term contracts:

  • 1 fixed term contract until March 2025
  • 1 fixed term contract until June 2023

Closing date 17 July. Read more here.

STARS [Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service] Dorset – Clinical Supervisor: 16 hours/week, pro rata of FTE £31k pa. STARS is a registered charity and specialist rape support centre in Dorset supporting victims and survivors of rape and sexual abuse. We are expanding our face-to-face therapeutic counselling service and require Clinical Supervisors to support this growing service. The individual will join our busy team working across our centres in Poole and Dorchester and work alongside the Head of Clinical Services and Head of Adult Counselling to help develop this growing service; carry out initial assessments, undertake supervision, screen referrals, assist with training and carry a small caseload of clients. Previous experience of working in a Counselling practice as a Clinical Supervisor is essential to this role, as is a deep understanding of how the trauma of sexual violence affects the individual.

Read more here.

Information updates

July’s Fact Sheet:

UKRAINE

Unaccompanied children from Ukraine: Up to 1,000 solo children who’ve already applied for a Homes for Ukraine Scheme visa will be allowed to travel to the UK without a parent or legal guardian, the government has announced. They’ll need proof of consent from a parent certified by the Ukrainian government or consul abroad. Previously these applications have been on hold as there was no route for them to be granted a visa within the scheme. Sponsors must:

  • be personally known to the parents
  • be checked (inc DBS) and approved by local councils before a visa is issued
  • commit to three years sponsorship or up to age 18 if sooner


Local authorities will receive £10,500 per child as well as additional funding for education and childcare on a per pupil basis. Read more here.

COST OF LIVING issues

Utility debt and unaffordable direct debits: This Adviser Online article gives guidance on when and how to challenge an increased direct debit if the increase is higher than accurate readings suggest, or because debt is being recovered at an unaffordable rate.

Broadband and mobile firms commitments: The UK’s biggest broadband and mobile operators have made commitments to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, effective immediately, to:

  • support customers who may be struggling with the cost of living with compassion and understanding
  • offer customers ways to keep them connected, such as allowing them to move to cheaper packages without charge or penalty, or agreeing to manageable payment plans
  • protect the connectivity of their customers know to be vulnerable as a priority
  • consider more ways to help their customers, including exploring tariffs, options to improve existing low cost offers, and increasing promotion of existing deals

Read the press release here.

BENEFITS

Universal Credit and LCWRA (Limited Capability for Work related Activity): A person who previously received national insurance credits due to limited capability for work can claim UC without having to be reassessed under the work capability assessment or serve a waiting period before the LCWRA element is included. This article on adviser online looks at recent case law on this topic.

UTLITLIES

Warm Homes Discount schemes 2022: The WHD scheme requires participating domestic energy suppliers to provide support to persons on a low income and who are vulnerable to cold-related illness or living wholly or mainly in fuel poverty. This support may be direct, through energy bill rebates of £150 to eligible customers. The Government has announced changes to the criteria, introducing a second ‘core group’ for 2022:

  • Core group 1: People who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit; many get the discount automatically.
  • Core group 2: .Households in receipt of certain means-tested benefits and income-capped Tax Credits will be deemed as low income. BEIS will use property data (from the Valuations Office Agency) to model energy costs and identify households with high costs. DWP will match these addresses to low income households – those on UC, Income related ESA and JSA, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child/Working Tax Credits (below income threshold), and Pension Credit Savings Credit.

There will also be a Park Homes WHD rebate for residents on a park home site who pay for their electricity through their park, or as part of their pitch fees. If successful, customers will receive a one-off payment of £150 towards their energy bills. This scheme is independently administered by Charis Grants Limited.

Read the Ofgem FAQs here.

IMMIGRATION

EEA nationals – worker / self-employed status: A new toolkit from the EU Rights Hub will help advisers assisting with entitlements such as Universal Credit, to determine whether a client has:

  • EEA worker/self-employed status under EU Law
  • passed the Minimum Earnings Threshold
  • established and proven “genuine and effective” work

OTHER

Childcare Choices: This is a new Government digital and radio campaign which seeks to ease the pressure on working families by encouraging take up of the range of government support available to help with the costs of childcare.The Childcare Choices campaign brings together all the support in one place, and covers:

• Universal Credit
• Tax-Free Childcare
• 30/15 hours free childcare

Read more here.

National Insurance changes: NI is paid by employees, employers and the self-employed:

  • Employees pay NI on their wages
  • Employers also pay extra NI contributions for staff
  • The self-employed pay NI on their profits

From 6 July, workers will be able to earn £12,570 a year before they have to start paying NI – up from the previous threshold of £9,880. This change will bring NI in line with the personal allowance for income tax.

There is a new Government tool to help you estimate how the National Insurance contributions changes will affect you

Techniques scammers use: This useful Citizens Advice blog post has information on the techniques scammers have used to exploit people’s vulnerability during the energy crisis.

Mobile phones – roaming charges abroad: From 1 July, mobile phone providers no longer have to tell consumers when they’ve used £45 of data. To avoid bill shock, consumers can:

  • check their provider’s roaming policy
  • turn off mobile roaming whilst abroad
  • choose to set a bill limit

Read more on teh Ofcom website.

Events

Cost of living Briefing {Advice Dorset Patnership}: Presentations from last week;’s briefing are here:

DCA Academy: If you have half an hour to spare, you can listen to Caroline Buxton talking with Caro Hart about Cost of Living issues here (you will have to make a brief profile on the Academy system to access it).

Finance Food and Families – BCP Cost of Living conference – 13 July: This free conference at Bournemouth University is specifically aimed at frontline workers who are likely to come into contact with someone who may need support due to the current cost of living situation. It will provide you with information about the support that already exists so that you can sign-post people to support and also explore what are the gaps that we need to focus on. Book via eventbrite.

Policy in Practice webinar – How the housing crisis has deepened the cost of living crisis: Weds 27 July, 10.30. This webinar will explore the policy issues affecting housing affordability for low-income households, examining the scale of the problem as well as what can be done in both the short and long term. More info here.

Research, reports, blogs etc

Cost of Living support – Govt press release: The Secretary of State for Welfare and Pensions (SSWP) has also published further detail on the payments, including estimates of the number of families eligible for the cost of living payment, and individuals eligible for the disability payment by region/Parliamentary constituency. Read more here.

Not eating, heating or meeting bills – managing a cost of living crisis on a low income: This Joseph Rowntree Foundation report looks at the precarious position many people are in, and makes specific recommendations about unaffordable deductions from benefits. Read more here.

CPAG Blog: Managed migration to Universal Credit – an irresponsible gamble? This blog looks at 6 reasons for alarm as the government forges ahead with its plans to move 1.7m people by the end of 2024, including the fact that claimants have to submit a new claim (they are not ‘seamlessly’ moved over), and the impact on clients with long-term health issues and ‘complex needs’ who have been on Employment & Support Allowance for a number of years.

Funding news

Dorset Community Foundation currently have two grant programmes open:

The Nature Heals Seed Fund offers small grants of up to £1,000 and is therefore designed for small, local groups running low cost community activities. It is particularly relevant for groups wanting to try out a new idea – we are happy to take risks and support new initiatives so this is your chance to try something different. However, we can also fund existing small scale activities that meet fund priorities and are in need funding to continue or develop. We are interested in funding a wide range of small scale projects/activities that use the natural world and connection with nature to benefit local people or to enhance services and activities for local people.

The Dorset Welcome Fund will award grants to local community groups, to support immediate community action to help refugees of any nationality arriving, residing or settling in Dorset. Work must take place in the Dorset Council area. We anticipate funding a range of activities and services such as (but not limited to):

  • Supply of practical personal or household items to address hardship such as clothing, bedding, mobile phones
  • Community events and social activities to welcome refugees, address isolation and support people to connect with other refugees and the wider community
  • Befriending support
  • Advice and Advocacy support
  • Mental health services
  • childcare to support parents to attend ESOL or other appointments

Grants of up to £4k are available; please note grants cannot be used to award cash to individual refugees or refugee families.

Better Community Business Network grants: Funding is intended to improve the quality of life and expectations of people and their communities, especially those who come from disadvantaged or socially deprived backgrounds. Grants of up to £3,000 are available. Causes supported by the funders include education, health, mentoring and rehabilitation ex-offenders, homelessness / poverty for example shelter projects and food banks, arts and culture, environmental regeneration projects, elderly befriending and social clubs, disability for example help lines and inclusion and social cohesion. The next deadline is 15 July. Read more here.