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 – like this one!

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.

This is a short pre-Christmas edition to catch up on recent changes and to wish you all a good break, looks like we’ll need to re-charge our batteries ready for the new year! The first full edition of 2022 will be out on Thursday 13 January.

Agency Listings – UPDATE

We will be updating the agency list on the Advice Dorset services part of the website in early January – to do this, we will make use of the information you publish on your websites, and may call you to check things if were not sure. However, if you prefer to email us with any specific updates, or to be included in the listings if you are not currently, then email me: Caroline Buxton

Information updates

Government information on Covid19 here.

NHS Covid Pass: This is the proper name for what is also referred to as a ‘vaccine passport’. People can get an NHS Covid pass if they have completed a negative PCR test or negative lateral flow test within the past 48 hours. They can also get an NHS Covid pass if they are vaccinated with 2 doses. Read more on the NHS website.

Statutory Sick Pay / Fit Notes – changes: Employees can now self-certify for 28 days sickness until January 2022. The Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2021 came into effect on 17 December and provide that employees can now extend the self-certification period for sickness absence from 7 days to 28 (calendar days). However, this is limited until 26 January 2022. Also, the DWP has added notifications to benefit entitlement pages to say that fit notes will not be required. This is what is on the medical evidence section of Universal Credit:

Temporary change to fit notes
You do not have to provide a fit note (sick note) for Universal Credit until 27 January 2022. This will not affect your claim.

There is no need to ask your GP for a fit note before then. This is to give GPs more time to work on the coronavirus vaccination boosters. If you are concerned about your health condition, you should continue to see your GP.

However, although claimants can self-certify for 7 days, there are many cases where fit notes, as laid out in Regulation 2(1) of the Medical Evidence Regulations, are still legally required and this has not been changed. Also this change regarding Fit Notes is guidance, not law, so there could be some problems ahead, and to make sure there are no gaps in entitlement, clients should be proactive at the end of January in checking when fit notes will be required again, so that they don’t miss out. More information, including some FAQs, on the LA Welfare Bulletin here.

Jobcentre Plus Christmas opening times: Here.

Benefit payment dates over Christmas: Here.

Discretionary Housing Payments: This DWP analysis shows how much of their allocation each Local Authority had used by 30 September 2021. Locally the mid-year figures (ie. April – September 2021) are:

  • BCP: 347 awards, £240,170 of £910,265 used (26%)
  • Dorset: 558 awards, £259,461 of £646,621 used (40%)

Local Information

Barnardo’s Helpline for asylum seekers: Barnardo’s Boloh Helpline has expanded to support the mental health and wellbeing of adult asylum seekers across the UK. The Helpline will offer advice, signposting, emotional support and 8 free sessions of therapy by qualified Barnardo’s therapists. Read more here – The Helpline is open Monday – Friday (10am-8pm) and Saturday (10-3pm) via phone 0800 151 2605