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Community Engagement support for Belfast 2024 Creative Programme

Belfast 2024 programme team is delighted to invite you to our Belfast 2024 Open Day! Come take a leap and do something creative with us on Thursday 29th February!

 We will be hosting a day of creativity at 2 Royal Avenue, free and open to the public from 2pm to 7pm.

 Everyone is welcome to drop in at any stage and find out all about the opportunities to get involved and be part of this creative programme. From boat building to making your own clothes, dancing to gardening, there’s something for everyone in Belfast 2024.

 On the day you’ll be able to take our quiz and find out what kind of ‘Creative Me’ profile you are, try out activities and make a creative resolution for the year by writing a letter to your future self (which we’ll post back to you in 2025!).

 Looking forward to seeing you on this leap day

Shaftsbury Square Job Fair

At GEMS NI Office, 34 Shaftsbury Square, Belfast

Wednesday 21st February 2024, 10am – 1pm

For more information click on the link 

 

Consumer Council for Northern Ireland

The Consumer Council provde Advice and Information, Investigate and Resolve Compliants, they will also Advocate on your behalf!

The Counsumer Council have recently launched their new website and it looks fantastic. Here you can find Money Saving Tools, Compliants Resolution, and Advice and Information.

       

Cliff Edge Statement on Restoration of NI Instutions

Cliff Edge Coalition welcomes restoration of devolved institutions and the opportunity

to address growing poverty levels and cost of living pressures in Northern Ireland.

The Cliff Edge Coalition is pleased to see the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive and is looking forward to working with the Department for Communities and the new Minister for Communities, Gordon Lyons, to protect people from the damaging effects of poverty in Northern Ireland.

The harsh impacts of welfare reform and significant budget cuts to the Department for Communities are increasing hardship for households in Northern Ireland. This situation is further exacerbated by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and action is urgently needed to address growing poverty levels.

The Cliff Edge Coalition is calling for three key asks to help strengthen the social security system which will provide important protections against poverty and reduce the risk of debt and destitution.

To read the full statement, click here:

Tax Credit to UC Migration Important Notice

BURC encourages Tax Credit claimants to seek independent advice before making a claim for Universal Credit in order to maximise entitlement to benefit uprating from April

With the Department for Communities currently issuing thousands of Migration Notice letters each month to people on Tax Credits as part of its ‘Move to UC’ programme, we want to make sure that those affected get the right advice about the timing of their claim in order to maximise their entitlement to the 6.7% benefit uprating from April.

‘Move to UC’ refers to the UK Government’s plan to move ‘legacy’ benefit claimants, including those currently receiving Child or Working Tax Credit, on to Universal Credit. As part of this programme, the Department is currently issuing Migration Notice letters instructing people on the ‘legacy’ benefits that they have three months to make a claim to Universal Credit before their existing benefit awards will end.

Kevin Higgins, Head of Policy, Advice NI, sets out the crucial importance for some claimants of delaying their claim for Universal Credit until April.

“Comparing the amount of money someone would receive on Universal Credit as opposed to their current Tax Credit award is often a complicated task, but there are some fundamental truths:

  1. While some people may be entitled to more money under Universal Credit than they receive in their current Tax Credit award, others will be entitled to less;
  2. People who move to UC after receiving their Migration Notice letter will automatically avail of ‘Transitional Protection’ — this includes a top-up to their Universal Credit entitlement designed to ensure that their award is broadly equal to the amount they were receiving in ‘legacy’ benefits;
  3. The problem is that Transitional Protection is ‘eroded’ over time as other parts of the Universal Credit award increase, for example due to inflation-linked increases applied by the government;

In particular, we know that benefit uprating amounting to 6.7% will apply from April, whilst the support provided for help with rent for claimants living in the private rented sector will also see a substantial boost.

If Transitional Protection is in place prior to these changes, any increases in support will be offset against the Transitional Protection element. In other words, the claimant will not benefit fully from the increases and so will be worse off.”

The key message is if you are currently receiving ‘legacy’ benefits and you receive your Migration Notice letter about moving to Universal Credit you should ALWAYS seek independent advice so that you can make an informed choice based on your individual circumstances.

Your Migration Notice will give the exact date by which you need to make your claim, and an independent adviser will be able to help you figure out whether you have the option to delay moving until April and whether this is the best choice for you.

Call us on 028 9096 1111 or email Joanne.Farrell@burc.org  for advice. You can find your local advice provider at Local Advice | Advice NI.

Kevin Higgins continued:

“We understand that the ‘Move to UC’ Discovery Phase in Northern Ireland highlighted that 87% of claimants were entitled to Transitional Protection. This evidence indicates that people need to take the issue of when to make the move very seriously, and if they can, they need to check their deadline and consider delaying making the move until on or after 8th April.”

‘Legacy’ benefits refer to the number of working age, means-tested benefits that are to be replaced by Universal Credit. They are: Income Support, income-based Employment & Support Allowance, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

Consumer Council Energy Efficiency

Save Money & Energy! Check out the latest money saving tips Energy efficiency campaign 2023 Communications pack (1)

Still Ready for Work

Are you looking to get back into employment, would you like support to navigate the different areas. If you are 50+ and this is something you would like to know more about, Still Ready for Work click on this link and read how to make contact and start the process. Good luck!

New Year, New Beginnings: Our ESOL Classes Resume on January 15th!

Happy New Year! We hope this message finds you well. We’re excited to announce the return of our free online ESOL classes starting from Monday, January 15th.

To our Tutors: we appreciate your dedication and look forward to your continued support.

To our Learners: welcome back! We’re eager to see you make progress and succeed.

If you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time. Visit our website or contact Claudia on ESOL@burc.org for any information.

Thank you for being part of the BURC ESOL community. Looking forward to working together for another positive and successful year!

It’s a wrap! Our ESOL Classes are off until 2024

Image by senivpetro on Freepik

As the year comes to a close, we are delighted to share that our ESOL classes have successfully concluded for the year. It has been a remarkable journey filled with learning, growth, and the forging of new connections.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to our incredible Volunteer Tutors who have dedicated their time, expertise, and unwavering commitment to make our ESOL programme a resounding success.

To our Learners, we extend our sincerest appreciation for your hard work, determination, and enthusiasm throughout the year. Your dedication to improving your language skills has contributed to the vibrant and diverse community we are proud to be a part of.

As we approach the holiday season, we wish each and every one of you a peaceful and joyful break and great start of the New Year.

Looking ahead, we are excited to announce that our ESOL classes will resume from Monday, 15th January, 2024. We eagerly anticipate another year of learning, collaboration, and growth.

For any information and updates on our courses, please contact Claudia on ESOL@burc.org.

Once again, a giant thank you to our Volunteer Tutors, Learners, and everyone who has contributed to the success of our ESOL programme. Your support is invaluable, and we are truly grateful for the positive impact you’ve made.

Looking forward to working together for a positive 2024!

“Keeping Your Home Warm”

The Consumer Council regularly update theirwebsite with information that would be helpful for consumers. This includes a number of free resources and practical tools to help consumers reduce their energy bills and find the best tariffs available. You can access the advice on energy saving here. Here you can find advice on switching suppliers, energy price comparision tools, price comparison tools and grants and schemes available to support with energy costs.

In addition to energy advice, we have a range of other free support, advice and tools to help consumers with the cost-of-living crisis. The Consumer Council can provide help and support on a range of topics including your food shop, your home energy bills, your transport and more. Use the link here to browse by area relevant to you.  You can access consumer information relating to the cost of living here.