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 and Volunteering

Citizens Advice Central Dorset – trustee vacancy: CACD are looking for a new trustee to chair the people subcommittee and to join our Board which is responsible for the overall direction, vision and oversight of Citizens Advice Central Dorset. This is a voluntary position, covering the Dorchester, Gillingham, Sherborne and Weymouth and Portland Area.

Time requirement of 3 to 4 hours per month plus additional Sub Committee,
Board and Executive Meetings. Qualities: Enthusiasm, commitment to the aims of Citizens Advice and an interest in people, governance, social justice, training, policies and practises associated with staff, volunteers and trustees. Closing Date: Tuesday 31st August 2021. Read more:

CAN – Steps Forward Volunteering: This project is a short, accredited programme, for experienced volunteers and for new ones. It is a short practical course to develop, recognise and accredit the skills gained through volunteering. It then builds on those skills to enable volunteers to progress, be it with their volunteering, with training or towards employment.

If you would like to be part of this ESFA funded programme offering placements, know of volunteers that would benefit from this accreditation, or just would like to speak to us about it,  then please get in touch with us by emailing liz.cooper@can100.org

Information updates

COVID-RELATED

Covid19 Response – Summer 2021 – Step 4 of the Road Map: Follow this LINK the updated guidance from the Government, and more practical details on ‘how to stay safe and stop the spread’ is here.

COVID-19: guidance on protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable: Updated guidance is here.

Returning to work: Restrictions on returning to the workplace are removed from 19 July but considerations around health and safety, transport and caring responsibilities remain. Read the Govt guidance here and also see a useful Blog under Research section below.

Frontline NHS and care staff: No longer have to self isolate from 19 July, if their absence may lead to a significant risk of harm and an individual decision has been made by the organisation’s local Director of Infection Prevention and Control, the lead professional for health protection, or the Director of Public Health relevant to the organisation following a risk assessment. Staff need to have been fully vaccinated, had a negative PCR test and take daily lateral flow tests. Read the press release here.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) Grant 5: HMRC will start to contact eligible customers in mid-July about claiming. The deadline to claim SEISS 5 is 30 September 2021. The amount of the grant is based on the turnover reduction (30% and over, or less than 30%). To be eligible for SEISS 5, a claimant must:

  • be self employed or in a partnership
  • have traded in the tax years 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 and intend to continue trading in 2021/2022
  • have annual trading profits of no more than £50,000, and at least equal to their non-trading income
  • reasonably believe that there will be a significant reduction in their trading profits in the period 1 May to 30 September 2021 due to Covid-19
  • The amount of the SEISS 5 grant payable depends on how much the claimant’s business turnover reduced between April 2020 and April 2021 compared to an earlier period, usually tax year 2019/2020.

Universal Credit – Minimum Income Floor: The MIF is an assumed level of earnings applied to self-employed people once their business has been running for 12 months. It has been suspended since the start of the pandemic, but new regulations – here – come into affect on 31 July to re-introduce it. The easement can continue if the claimant’s business remains adversely affected by coronavirus. This will be subject to the discretion of the Secretary of State, and limited to a period of 2 consecutive Assessed Periods and for not more than 6 assessment periods in total.

OTHER BENEFITS NEWS

Definition of terminal illness: The current definition of terminal illness which applies to most social security benefits restricts this provision to those whose death can reasonably be expected within 6 months. DWP Minister Justin Tomlinson has confirmed that this will be replaced with a 12-month end of life approach which mirrors the end of life definition used by the NHS. This will start to be applied to Universal Credit and Employment Support Allowance from the start of next year and will then be rolled out to disability benefits. Read the DWP Press Release here.

Bereavement Support rules for cohabiting couples – changes proposed: Previously, a surviving parent could only claim financial support if they had been married or in a civil partnership at the time of their spouse or civil partner’s death. Under new plans, Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support Payments will be extended to surviving cohabiting partners with children who were living with their partner at the time of death. Once approved the changes will be applied retrospectively to April 2018. Read the press release here.

HOUSING

Possession proceedings: Practice direction 55C has been extended until 30 November 2021; this means that landlords are still required to provide information on their knowledge of how the pandemic has impacted the tenant and their household. Shelter Legal is a useful source of information on possession proceedings, and there is a also information on reactivation of claims, here.

IMMIGRATION

EUSS applications: The Home Office has announced that from 6 July paper application forms for EU Settled Status can no longer be downloaded and applications will not be accepted by email – you must apply online or request paper forms from the EU Resolution Centre. The DWP has made it clear how they will deal with existing EEA claimants who have not applied to the EUSS. There will be:

  • a further 3-month grace period for those who have not yet applied to the EUSS
  • a Home Office data match in September to capture those EEA nationals who have not yet applied
  • After that, 28 day notices will be issued, with a prompt to apply to the EUSS, if they are not to lose benefits.

They have also produced some Fact Sheets for late applications.

British Nationals (Overseas) Visas: There has been a change to the rules around the new BN(O) visa for people from Hong Kong. They can continue to enter the UK without the visa and be given ‘Leave Outside the Rules’ until 19 July 2021. After that they must apply for a BN(O) visa before they travel. The Govt information is here.

LOCAL NEWS

Dorset Housing Register (Home Choice): The housing waiting lists for the former East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset and Weymouth and Portland Council areas will close on the 19th July 2021. This means that they are not taking any new applications for social housing for the five separate registers. Dorset Council are moving to a new single waiting list from the 1st October 2021 which will be known as Dorset Council Home Choice. This means there will be some changes to how applicants apply for social housing and some of the assessment criteria.

All applicants on the housing register will need to re-apply by 1st October 2021. Their application will then be assessed using the new allocations policy. We will write to all applicants on the Register and provide them with step by step guidance on how to re-register. The new webpage explaining the interim arrangements is here.

Training, Events, etc

Last week’s Benefit Forum: Here is a LINK to the slide presentations.

Policy in Practice webinar recording – Coping when covid19 welfare support is withdrawn: Here is the link to this useful summary of which measures are ending and what that might mean for people. In a poll of attendees, 65% thought the ending of the £20 UC uplift would have the most serious impact.

Reports, research, blogs etc

Cloisters: Returning to work in the time of Coronavirus: This Back to Work Toolkit (10th editions, March 2021) is still a useful guide.

Nearly Legal blog on the Building Safety Bill: This bill has started its legislative passage through Parliament. The government says the bill will:

  • ensure there are clearly identified people responsible for safety during the design, build and occupation of a high-rise residential building
  • establish a Building Safety Regulator to hold to account those who break the rules and are not properly managing building safety risks, including taking enforcement action where needed
  • give residents in these buildings more routes to raise concerns about safety, and mechanisms to ensure their concerns will be heard and taken seriously
  • extend rights to compensation for substandard workmanship and unacceptable defects   
  • drive the culture change needed across the industry to enable the design and construction of high-quality, safe homes in the years to come

Read the blog here.

‘Home Matters’ – University of Hull- research on the impact of covid19 on household finances: This research aims to learn more about the impact of the  pandemic on household finances and in particular, the number and outcomes of eviction cases. It will look at unique data obtained from occupiers threatened with eviction and the legal practitioners who advise them to offer an assessment of the effectiveness of the new temporary regime and to consider which aspects, if any, should be retained in the post-pandemic era. Read more here. You can also complete an adviser SURVEY – open until 31 July.

Healthwatch – The Doctor will zoom you now: A recent survey for the British Medical Association showed that 95% of GPs are now offering remote consultations and 88% want to see greater use of them continue in the future. Whilst people previously told us that they welcome the idea of the NHS making better use of new technology to help make care more convenient, people’s experiences of telephone, video, and email consultations to date have been more mixed.

For some, they are working well, and many previously sceptical individuals have been converted following a positive experience. For others, these types of appointments have introduced new barriers to care.

Read more here.

EU Rights and Brexit Hub: This initiative from York University provides a free second-tier advice and advocacy service on EU welfare rights. They are also publishing useful research here about the difficulties EU citizens are facing.

National Audit Office – Child Maintenance Service: This study will assess the value for money of the child maintenance system, and the NAO are keen to hear from individuals or representative organisations that wish to share their experience with the report team (survey open until 30 July). Follow this link.

FCA and vulnerability: In February 2021, the FCA published Finalised Guidance on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers; they have now put together some further FAQs.

Funding news

Barclays 100 x 100 covid fund: Barclays will be making a further 50 donations of £100,000 each to UK registered charities to support their immediate COVID-19 relief work in communities across the UK. The funding is intended to support communities as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on the following four priority areas:

  • Help for people experiencing physical and mental health issues.
  • Financial assistance for people facing financial hardship.
  • Support for ethnically diverse communities disproportionately impacted by the crisis.
  • Enhancing digital accessibility.

Closing date 6 August. Read more here.

Movement for Good: Grants of £10k, £50k, £100k are available to charities with an income of less than £5m, supporting specific themes:

  • Education and skills;
  • Rural or community development;
  • Arts, culture or heritage;
  • Climate change or environment;
  • Human rights or equality.

Closing date 6 August. read more here.