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.  Please note, due to annual leave the next edition(10) will be on Thursday 25 August.

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

Homestart West Dorset is a voluntary organisation committed to promoting the welfare of families with at least one child under 5 years of age. Volunteers offer regular support, friendship and practical help to families under stress in their own homes helping to prevent family crisis and breakdown. They currently have two vacninces, an organise – Family Support (26 hours.week) and a Community Engagement Officer (26 hours/week). Closing date for both is 19 August. Read more:


Information updates

August Fact Sheet:

Cost of Living

Stakeholder toolkit – Communicating help for households and cost of living payments: This Govt resource includes downloadable posters, easy read leaflets, links to BSL youtube videos etc.

Cost of Living payment for those on Tax Credits: HMRC will shortly be making the first payment to eligible tax credit claimants, following the completion of payments by the DWP. Govt guidance will be updated shortly. Note that the qualifying conditions for the second payment have yet to be announced.

Energy Bills Support Scheme: The non-repayable energy payment, totaling £400, will be paid to households in 6 instalments. A discount will be applied to electricity bills on a monthly basis starting in October. Households with a domestic electricity connection will be paid automatically and do not need to apply. Clients should enquire with their supplier if they’ve not received their first instalment by the end of October. The Govt has published a guide to the scheme here. NB: Clients should be advised that they’ll never be asked for their bank details to receive the energy payment. Anyone concerned about contacts in relation to the scheme should check if this might be a scam – see the Citizens Advice guidance here.

BENEFITS

UC – Managed migration: There is a new Adviser Online article on managed migration to Universal Credit (UC). Although we don’t yet know when managed migration will start in this area, this detailed but clear article is a good heads-up, and covers:

  • the process for clients once they get a migration notice
  • who qualifies for transitional protection, how it’s worked out, and when it erodes and ends
  • tactical advice to maximise a client’s entitlement.

Post Office Card Accounts (POCA): In March 2022 HMRC advised that they would ‘pause’ payments of child benefit, guardians allowance and tax credits after 5 April 2022 to holders of a POCA who had not provided alternative account details. Some 6,000 claimants have still not updated their account details and HMRC will now start to terminate entitlement to the above benefits. We understand that HMRC were asked to provide details of the legislation allowing for this and will respond. A Govt press release on this came out in March. Also fROm 25 May the DWP no longer makes payments into POCA – read info on the Post Office website here.

EMPLOYMENT

New guidance on employment status: BEIS has published new guidance on employment status. This non-statutory guidance does not change the law,  but it does helpfully summarise the principles used to determine whether someone is a worker, employee or self-employed, providing links to further resources. 

OTHER

LEAP: The Local Energy Advice Partnership restarted in July 2022 and will run continuously for the next 4 years, throughout the whole of Dorset. The LEAP Appliance scheme will return early August and the LEAP Boiler scheme will return September. Read more here.

Funeral Plans: The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a list of firms which it has not authorised to sell funeral plans. The FCA advised that if people have a plan with a firm that is listed they should get in touch with them to see what is happening to their existing plan.

DorPIP works holistically with families, statutory providers and third sector organisations in order to provide early help in the community through specialist parent-infant therapy that is unavailable elsewhere. Read more about their services here. Read their FAQs (including info on costs and discounted rates) here; they are happy to take on more clients.

Events

How to maximise unclaimed Pension Credit take up: A Policy in Practice webinar, 10.30 on Wednesday 24 August. As the cost of living crisis continues with further increases in energy costs expected before winter, many pensioners are facing unprecedented financial challenges. The DWP estimates that up to one million pensioners, around a third of all those who are eligible, are missing out on unclaimed Pension Credit. This equates to £1.7 billion of benefits that could be worth around £3,300 for an individual pensioner household. The webinar will cover why a focus on tackling pensioner poverty is now needed, with case studies of take-up campaigns. Register here.

STARS Training Event: Neuropsychology and Neurodiversity in Counselling: This one day on line training on 16 September will be split into two parts, in the morning attendees will explore the concept of ‘Neurodiversity’ and what it means to be Neurodivergent’. This session will aim to introduce the common neurodevelopmental conditions that come under the term “neurodivergent”, including autism, ADHD, Dyslexia etc. The second session in the afternoon will focus around ‘Integrating Neuroscience into Counselling Practice’. Early bird tickets – £65. Read more here.

Reports, research, blogs, consultations etc

Stop Loan Sharks! The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is running a month-long social media campaign during August to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks and signpost families to financial information and support available with back-to-school costs. The campaign has been prompted by concern that there are many households feeling the squeeze from increasing living costs which could make them an easy target for predatory lenders who offer quick cash loans at astronomical rates. Read more here.

Fuel poverty – estimates for the UK: This CPAG Blog summarise the current data and what this might mean for the future. By January 2023 over half of households in the UK (15 million) will be in fuel poverty – spending over 10 per cent of net income on fuel. They will on average be spending £38.25 above the 10 per cent threshold. There are big regional variations in fuel poverty ranging from 47.5 per cent in London to 71.7 per cent in Northern Ireland.

Rural Services Network report – Rural as a region: the hidden challenge for Levelling Up: Rural is missing from the levelling up agenda. If rural England was to be thought of as a region of England, it would be more populous than London or the South East. English rural local authorities are home to one fifth of the population, 4.8 million workers, and half a million businesses. Based on the government’s own white paper headline metrics, rural’s need for levelling up would be greater than any other. When all the headline metrics across which rural performance can be measured are considered and compared against other nine geographies, England’s hidden region has on average further to level up than any other.
But, despite its scale and need, the needs of this ‘region’ are poorly reflected in the government’s levelling up framework…..read more here.

…and more on rural issues: Newsnight on the 14th June highlighted the plight of rural communities struggling with the negative impact of the rising cost of fuel on rural communities. The story included a focus on food banks in rural areas, and both the difficulty for volunteers who can no longer afford to fill their cars to transport food donations to rural residents, along with those receiving food parcels from the food banks that struggled to reach them as they were unable to afford the petrol to get there. You can watch this on BBC iplayer.

……and on a similar theme, for local services, a consultation – Dorset Council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP): This was prepared in response to the Government’s National Bus Strategy, Bus Back Better initiative, aimed at improving bus services across England. Although the council’s bid for funding in round one was unsuccessful, there will be future funding opportunities which BusBackBetter will apply for to action those improvements outlined in the initial plan. There is continuing work with local bus operators to make improvements to the network within current budgetary constraints. The current Survey (here) is to seek further input from the public on their priorities for public transport knowing that funding is limited. These views will be aligned with input from local businesses, tourism, health service providers and town and parish councils as well as local transport action groups and other stakeholders. The survey is open until 11 September.

Funding news

Community Research Networks – Expression of Interest: Organisations can apply for a share of £500,000 to support proposals to form a Community Research Network in their area. The aim of the Community Research Networks Expression of Interest (EoI) Competition is to support up to 20 initial collaborations with the potential to form a Community Research Network at the implementation phase. Funding at this EoI phase will support initial collaborations in building relationships and to develop plans for the implementation phase. Only successful applicants at the EoI phase will be invited to apply for the implementation phase in April 2023.

Competition opens: Monday 25 July 2022
Competition closes: Wednesday 14 September 2022 11:00am

Read more here.

GambleAware – Community Resilience Fund: Gambleaware has announced an extension of the application window for its newest fund to tackle gambling-related harms in Great Britain. The fund is open to not-for-profit organisations who have experience or knowledge of gambling harms or an adjacent field such as health inequalities, addictions or mental health. Projects must support disadvantaged communities and address inequalities in light of the cost-of-living crisis, with a focus on how this could be impacting gambling-related harms. Grants can be used to:

  • Develop or create an existing service/project.
  • Work with a new community.
  • Support innovation.
  • Develop or strengthen a new partnership within the community/local area.

Awards of up to £100,000 are available, from a £1 million funding pot. The deadline has been extended from 28 July 2022 to 12 noon on 8 August 2022. Read more here.

Postcode Local Trust – West of England: Next funding round opens on 1st September 2022 (and will probably close very quickly). Grants are available for smaller charities and good causes in the west of England. Grants range from £500 to £20,000. The funding is for projects in the west of England that have a clear link with one of the Trust’s themes:

  • Improving mental wellbeing
  • Enabling community participation in the arts
  • Preventing or reducing the impact of poverty
  • Supporting marginalised groups and promoting equality
  • Improving biodiversity and green spaces
  • Enabling participation in physical activity
  • Responding to the climate emergency and promoting sustainability
  • Increasing community access to outdoor space

Read more here.