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). 

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

Reminder……. ADVICE DORSET PARTNERSHIP – STRATEGY 2020-24: The Strategy is a short document setting out our aspirations for the period 2020-24. Given the current situation the Introduction covers how the advice sector and other VCSE colleagues have worked with local authorities and others, contributing knowledge and resources to ensure an effective and speedy response to the Covid-19 crisis; we also highlight advice issues that are likely to emerge as we move into the recovery. period. It’s a short read – and we really appreciate any comments or feedback you have – thank you:

Covid-19 information updates

FURLOUGH SCHEME: Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – updated Govt guidance from 14 May 2020: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

MATERNITY RIGHTS: Useful FAQs on rights during pregnancy and maternity leave during Covid-19 are on the Maternity Action website. https://maternityaction.org.uk/covidmaternityfaqs/

RETURNING TO WORK: read the Insight overview of the Government’s guidance on the House of Commons Library, bearing in mind this link is as at Wednesday 20 May so things change……: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/economy-business/work-incomes/coronavirus-returning-to-work/

BENEFITS

New Process for claiming New Style Employment Support Allowance (NSESA): Previously, clients on Universal Credit could ask to claim NSESA by discussing this with their work coach. Recently, this guidance was amended to say this is no longer the case. Clients who are already on UC now must follow the same claims process as all other claimants, this is to apply either online or by calling the UC helpline. The full guidance is here: https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance

Can you claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance (NSESA) and receive the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)? There seems to be some debate about this, but as it stands there is nothing to stop someone being entitled to NSESA and still claiming help from the SEISS. Help from SEISS is based on past self-employment ie. having submitted a self-assessment return at least for the tax year 2018/19 and having traded in the tax year 2019/20, and the business has been adversely affected by coronavirus whichcould mean a reduction in profit or that it has ceased trading altogether due to coronavirus. However the client must intend to continue (or resume) trading in this tax year.

The current view it to advise a client to claim both NSESA and SEISS if they satisfy the separate qualifying conditions for both, and declares any SEISS to ESA if they are still in receipt of it at the time that a SEISS payment is made.

HOUSING

Govt letter to social housing tenants: On 22 May the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government wrote to all social housing tenants with info on staying safe, maintenance/repairs, a reminder of the new 3 month period that tenanst must be given in a notice seeking possession, other help for vulnerable people, etc. Read the full letter here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/885686/Covid19_Letter_to_social_housing_residents.pdf

MENTAL HEALTH

Mental Health Awareness Week is THIS WEEK – 18 – 24 May: there are ways to get involved, resources, briefings, blogs and lots more here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

ACAS have a section of their website devoted to Coronavirus and Mental Health: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus-mental-health

MONEY ISSUES

‘Loan Sharks’; With many people struggling to manage financially there are concerns that loan sharks may be more active – for information go to the Illegal Money Laundering website: https://www.stoploansharks.co.uk/who-we-are/

Local Information

Dorset Growth Hub: supporting the business community, providing up to date and impartial advice, phone lines are open…. ” to help answer your queries no matter how small. We are keeping up to date with Government guidance and support for businesses from BCP Council and Dorset Council, we can point you in the right direction.” Also able to offer 1-2-1 meetings with specialists over Zoom. Read more: https://www.dorsetgrowthhub.co.uk/covid-19/

Training for organisations

DCA Support Webinars: Wednesday 27 May – Managing recovery of income generating services. Details and full list of previous webinars here: https://www.dorsetcommunityaction.org.uk/support-webinars-during-covid-19/

Reports / Briefings

Shelter Blog: Benefit Cap undermines Govt’s Covid-19 response: Whilst Government measures such as lifting the Universal Credit standard allowance should mean that many households see their overall entitlement increase, some households will be taken over the benefit cap limit due to the increase, which means that the additional amounts will make no difference. Read more: https://blog.shelter.org.uk/2020/05/the-benefit-cap-is-undermining-the-governments-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19/

Down to the minute: how our data reveals the nation’s concerns in real-time. This Citizens Advice blog looks at trends: since the coronavirus outbreak, they have been monitoring the top 25 most viewed advice pages on their website every day. Watch a visual graph showing spikes related to government announcements, and read more at: https://wearecitizensadvice.org.uk/down-to-the-minute-how-our-data-reveals-the-nations-concerns-in-real-time-24fb8c9ceee

Funding News

Resourcing Racial Justice: The purpose of the Resourcing Racial Justice fund is to provide financial support to individuals and organisations that are working to redress the impact of COVID-19 and beyond on those who identify as People of Colour (POC). Three strands:

  • Supporting Individuals: £5k – £30k
  • Supporting Organisations- Emergency and Recovery: £5k – £30k
  • Supporting Organisations- Long Term Structural Change: £30k – £50k

Closing date: 22 June 220. Read more: http://resourcingracialjustice.org/apply

ESFA Community Training Grants: Focus of grants will be to fund projects which support participants who are over 16 years of age, eligible to work in the UK and either unemployed or economically inactive. Successful applicants are expected to be able to help move individuals into work, or closer to employment, by providing vocational training, advice, guidance and information. Grants of £5k – £20k. Closing date 1 June (but submit by 26 May to get feedback in time otthem amend your application!) Read more:https://www.groundwork.org.uk/esfa-grants-dorset/