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:

Jobs

Citizens Advice Purbeck is looking for 3 Energy Advisers to be part of the Fighting Fuel Poverty Project; this will run across Dorset (both Council areas) with Advisers based at home, and is funded for two years by The Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Fund.

37 hours per week, annual salary: £23,836. Closing date 5 June. For more information:

Covid-19 Information Updates

WORK / BENEFITS

Universal Credit and Self Employment Income Support scheme (SEISS): Regulations came into force from 21st May 2020 which confirm that payments from the SEISS will be taken into account as earned income in the assessment period in which they’re received.  For the full guidance go to: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/522/contents/made

Tax credits: Following the recent announcement that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until October, this means that Tax Credits claimants can continue to receive their award for longer, in-line with the CJRS, even if they are self-employed or employed but not using the CJRS.  Read the Government guidance (which includes other changes you do still need to tell HMRC about) here: https://www.gov.uk/changes-affect-tax-credits

Childcare Costs: If you are getting Universal Credit, you can claim back up to 85% of the costs of childcare that has taken place and you have already paid for. You can continue to claim back childcare costs with your Universal Credit if you are a critical worker (key worker – list available on the link)  or if you are a non-critical worker who has access to registered childcare. Read more: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-childcare/universal-credit-childcare-guide

Statutory Sick Pay: The Scheme went live on 26 May and will enable small and medium sized employers with fewer than 250 employees to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay. Tax agents will also be able to make claims on behalf of their employers. Employer’s guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

IMMIGRATION

Coronavirus Bereavement Scheme extended to give ‘indefinite leave to remain’ to the non-EEA nationals family of ‘any NHS worker or a healthcare or social care worker who has died as a result of coronavirus’. It was originally for certain NHS occupations only but has been extended.  Those eligible should be contacted automatically: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-bereavement-scheme-for-family-members-of-nhs-and-health-and-social-care-workers

Visa Extensions: Those unable to leave the UK due to travel restrictions can extend their visa to 31 july 2020 by contacting the Coronavirus Immigration team; information has recently been updated: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents#history

Quarantine for people arriving in the UK: From 8 June 2020 people will need to fill in an online form with their contact details in the UK and self-isolate for 14 days. There will be fines for anyone refusing to fill in the form or found to have left the address they’ve given. This won’t apply to travellers coming from Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, and there are other exemptions. Read more: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/home-secretary-announces-new-public-health-measures-for-all-uk-arrivals

Events, Reports, Briefings etc

Return to work – HR issues: Community Action Network webinar. As part of Small Charities week, on Tuesday 16th June 9-9:45am CAN are running a Zoom session to cover some of the key areas of people management which will need to be considered at this time – supporting employees and their welfare; communication and consultation – especially regarding risk assessments, varying contracts of employment, restructuring, or considering redundancies; flexible working; furlough and annual leave; equality considerations; and managing performance and other employee issues.   Sonia Wilson, HR Consultant for small charities and social enterprises, will give a 10-15 minute overview and then participants will have the opportunity to ask questions.  To register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/covid-19-return-to-work-and-hr-issues-tickets-107064342330?ref=estw

HMRC Coronavirus Data on the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme:https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmrc-coronavirus-covid-19-statistics

News from the Illegal Money Lending Team: The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) have reached a major milestone of helping 30,000 people escape the clutches of loan sharks and have increased their online presence, providing extra advice and support to victims.

The team have launched a new live chat service on their website, which will be available every Tuesday from May 26 between 9am and 5pm at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. An Instagram account has also been created to share news and updates.

NAWRA’s online ‘Covid-19 Special’ (part 1): This video covers  various updates to social security announced by government  and a Q&A session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkgwB9jW28w&feature=youtu.be

Funding

Coronavirus Community Support Fund: The Government’s new Coronavirus Community Support Fund opened for applications at 10am on Friday 22nd May. This new funding stream makes available £200m in Government funding that will be aimed primarily at small to medium organisations in England. The Fund has two key objectives:

  1. To increase community support to vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 crisis, through the work of civil society organisations.
  2. To reduce temporary closures of essential charities and social enterprises, ensuring services for vulnerable people impacted by COVID-19 have the financial resources to operate, and so reduce the burden on public service

Read more; https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/covid-19/learn-about-applying-for-emergency-funding-in-england

Independent Age Grants Fund: Reaching older people now – and beyond the Coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus has changed the lives of everyone in the UK, but this is particularly true for our older generation who remain amongst the most affected. Before coronavirus, Independent Age was exploring how to strengthen collaboration with older people and local organisations with the aim of shaping a more active role in supporting communities. Now the focus must be directed towards the current crisis. We can’t do this alone which is why our trustees have released £2 million from Independent Age’s funds to help smaller organisations across the UK working with older people hardest hit by the virus.

The Grants Fund will comprise of four separate funding rounds. In each round we will make £500,000 available where organisations can apply to receive up to £15,000 each. Round 1 is open now, closes 8 June. Read More: https://www.independentage.org/community/grants-fund

Govt funding for domestic abuse / sexual violence support services: The MOJ has secured £25 million as part of the government’s package of support to charities supporting vulnerable people including victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

This will be distributed through two separate funds, one through Police and Crime Commissioners and one through the national Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Fund. Separately from the funding MOJ will also provide an extra £3 million to PCCs specifically to fund Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) until 2022. Read more: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-funding-for-domestic-abuse-and-sexual-violence-support-services

Govt to use funding from ‘dormant’ accounts: Bank and building society accounts that have not been touched for 15 years will see their money ‘unlocked’ to help charities, social enterprises and vulnerable individuals during the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis.

The £150 million in funding will support urgent work to tackle youth unemployment, expand access to emergency loans for civil society organisations and help improve the availability of fair, affordable credit to people in vulnerable circumstances. It will be divided amongst specific organisations so we may need to ‘watch this space’ to see what initiatives they develop. Read more: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-unlocks-150-million-from-dormant-accounts-for-coronavirus-response