Delivering Dosh Money Awareness Training

Blog written by Steve Raw, Managing Director of Dosh

Sitting in the car park of the venue for today’s Money Awareness Training waiting for the caretaker to arrive, I am thinking about who I will meet and how the workshop will pan out during the course of the day.  It is the feeling of excitement I always experience and is similar to the one I had a couple of weeks ago when I arrived for the training I would be delivering with a colleague in the Scottish Borders.

Whilst this is not my main employment (I am/have been the Managing Director of Dosh* since 2009), it is something I love doing and I think I can speak on behalf of my co-presenters, when I say that they love it too. 

Introduction to the workshop and why

Several years ago, a support provider for people with a learning disability experienced some difficulties around their support with money.  They had received a warning notice from a regulator that they needed to remedy this situation urgently.  My organisation (Dosh Ltd – Financial Advocacy at  became part of the solution by delivering workshops across the country for their managers and leaders.  This is something we quickly found we enjoyed and, from the feedback we received from delegates, were good at it too.  Since then, we have been providing our training across England and Scotland.  (Not yet in Wales or Northern Ireland, but never say never!)

What the workshop includes:

  • Concepts and Values – the support options around money for people we support
  • Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005 and Best Interest Decisions
  • Financial Safeguarding
  • State Benefits Awareness
  • Introduction to Banking and Banking options for people with a learning disability
  • Budgeting, Money Planning, and the Dosh ‘Money Plan Game’
  • And a Q & A about supporting people to be more independent and have more control over their money.

Each delegate receives a Money Awareness Workbook which includes information and resources. 

Related.  Dosh – Play the game  featured in our workshop is an interactive a game which was specifically designed for people with a learning disability.  Delegates also have an opportunity to play the paper version during our day together.

Delivering training to a team in Sutton in Cambridgeshire

Five things we can do:

  1. We can customise our workshop to fit the needs of your colleagues. Recently in Scotland an organisation wished to have a focus on Banking; in another part of the country, we were asked to include a presentation on ‘Safeguarding’.
  2. We make our training accessible for the people attending our workshops. Dosh delivers training to people with a learning disability, support teams, their managers, social workers, and finance teams
  3. We can deliver workshops anywhere in England, Scotland, and Wales
  4. Share our workshop presentation in a pdf after our training so that candidates do not need to worry about note taking during the session.
  5. We provide a follow-up service after the workshop.


What the day involves:

Chocolate! Yes, you read it correctly.  We have an activity that you can actually eat and when your energy is beginning to sap, we come to the rescue with a liberal sharing of sweets. 

We spend time getting to know our delegates, especially during the activities and the breaks.  We find out what worries and challenges them and about supporting people with their money.

Working alongside our delegates as the workshop progresses.

We use a range of media and training methods including videos, film, power point, flip chart, paper exercises and Q & A sessions.

Five things that make us different?

  1. Financial Advocates who deliver the training also support people daily with their money and state benefits to bank, budget, and plan.
  2. I am a parent/carer for a woman with a learning disability who copes with autism, so I bring a family member’s perspective to the table.
  3. We share stories and experiences from our ‘day to day work’ to illustrate our presentations.
  4. We do not stick rigidly to our programme – if the class wants us to focus on a particular area during the day, we can adjust our programme.
  5. Our support and training do not end when the workshop finishes as we share our contact details with delegates so they can continue to request information and answer questions they may have thought of after the training.




Feedback from our recent workshops

“Very Informative” “Enjoyable, learning” “Nice and friendly speakers” “Friendly, nice speakers, learning enjoyable” “Enjoyable, easy to understand and interact” “It was spot on”  “Very good well presented” “Enjoyable”  “Enjoyed the day”  “Good action points to take away”  “Very good training session very informative” “Very informative and fun” “Valuable information and sweeties”     

The best thing about today was:  “Gaining more confidence around supporting people with their money” “I will, apply this to my work in the future”

If you would like to hear more about our training and would like to book a workshop, here are some of, out contact details

Information about our training:

email:                    Angela and Kerry [email protected]

email me:            [email protected]

Note:  * Dosh is a not-for-profit company, supporting adults with a learning disability to have more control and independence with their money, since 2007.


March 31st, 2023

Posted In: Banking, News and Blogs, Stories

Planning for the Future



Many people who have a family member with a learning disability fear what will happen when they are no longer around to care for them.

This Blog covers some of the main things you can think about to help prepare for the future.





Planning for benefits and banking

  • If you manage the benefits of your relative with a learning disability as their appointee or deputy, it is important to plan for if you are no longer around or not able to get the money out.
  • If you build a financial circle of support for your relative, their future will be more secure as they are not dependent on one person.
  • A circle of support could include family, friends, support workers or other people who want to be part of the life of your relative.



  • Some charities will support you to build a circle of support. They are listed below so you can find one local to you.
  • You should also make sure that key people such as family members and support staff know important money information:
  • Which bank are they with?
  • How is this money accessed (PIN, signature, appointee)?
  • Where are financial documents kept?
  • You could also look for other support options, such as a financial advocacy or appointeeship service that could take over in the future.

mental capacityPlanning for financial security

  • A Will is a written and legally binding document, which tells people what to do with money and property when you die.
  • Anyone over 18 can make a Will if they have capacity.
  • To have capacity they need to be able to answer ‘yes’ to the following questions:
  • Do you know what a Will is?
  • Do you know what things belong to you?
  • Can you choose who gets your things after you die?
  • If someone with a learning disability would like to make a Will, they should get written confirmation of their capacity from a solicitor and a medical professional before they make a Will.
  • Wills are legally binding, but that does not mean they cannot be contested. It is important to seek legal advice when writing one.
  • As well as a solicitor, you could also get support from an accountant or independent financial advisor.


Making a Will

  • Most people never make a Will, but it is important to create one even if you do not have a lot of money.
  • If you die without a Will, the law sets out how your assets will be divided (the Intestacy Rules).
  • This may not be what you would have chosen.
  • For many people, the main objectives of writing a Will are to:
  • Name the person (an executor) who will be in charge of making sure your wishes are followed
  • Pay off any money you owe
  • Provide for your family and decide how you want your estate to be divided
  • Create a secure financial future for a relative with a learning disability (a Discretionary Trust, see below)
  • Ensure there is a guardian for children under 18
  • Avoid delays, conflict or confusion
  • You should involve your family and other people who are involved in your life in this process so that you can create a clear plan and help everyone to understand your wishes for the future.
  • You should regularly review and update your Will to make sure it is still appropriate to your circumstances.


Creating a Discretionary Trust

  • Many people with a learning disability are dependent on means-tested benefits, so they may lose some benefits and have to pay for their care costs if they inherit money directly.
  • A Discretionary Trust can provide a structure to manage their money and protect their entitlement.
  • A Trust is a legal arrangement set up by a solicitor. It states:
  • Who can benefit from it (beneficiaries)
  • Who can manage it (trustees)
  • What the funds can be used for
  • The beneficiaries could be a single relative with a learning disability, your extended family, or even a charity.
  • A trustee must look after the assets of the Trust, and must spend the money in the best interests of the beneficiaries and in line with your wishes.
  • You need to name at least two trustees in your Will. These should be people that you trust completely, and who are committed to the long-term responsibility of managing the Trust.


Resources and support

Creating a circle of support


Finding a solicitor

  • The Disability Law Service can support you with finding a solicitor with experience of future planning for people with a learning disability
  • You can find a solicitor by calling the Law Society on 0870 606 5555 or on their website
  • The Citizens Advice Bureau can advise you about solicitors near you. Call them on 08444 111 444 or visit your local office
  • You will probably have to pay your solicitor, but you can get free legal advice with Legal Aid if you are over 70 or have a disability. Find out more by contacting Community Legal Advice on 0345 345 4345 or visit | Community Legal Advice



informationWhere can I get more information?

  • Making a will
  • Information on trusts
  • Contact Dosh to discuss support options for your relative for the future, including financial advocacy and appointeeship for benefits.



January 20th, 2023

Posted In: News and Blogs, Uncategorized

Mark’s Story

Earlier in the year, Mark expressed that wanted to replace his trike and discussed the idea with his Dosh Financial Advocate who suggested he visit a supplier for a suitable Trike to get some prices.

Whilst shopping around it became clear that he would not be able to fund this solely on his own, but over the year Mark managed to save just over half the amount by following the budget he had agreed with Dosh to give him some savings so he would have more choices.

Mark and Dosh also looked around for additional funding and following further discussions we put together a grant application to his care and support provider for financial assistance.

Before putting in the application, Mark and Dosh discussed this with everyone involved so we all knew what we needed to do to achieve his goal.

Mark then came up with the idea that he could use his new trike to do a sponsored bike ride and raise the funds to repay the grant.  We added this proposal to the grant application, what an excellent idea!

Success! The grants team loved the idea of paying it forward and agreed to give Mark the funds he needed, so the trike was ordered and payment was arranged.

Now as you can see Mark is off and enjoying life on the road!

December 6th, 2022

Posted In: News and Blogs, Stories

Banking Guide – Part 2




How can I get support with Banking?



1. Tell the bank what support and changes you need to help you. Build up a relationship with your local bank, so that they know you and what you need.
2. Ask what reasonable adjustments they can make, for example, to help you take money out of your account easily. Ask what they can do for people with a disability.
3. Ask the bank staff to check with their specialist disability team. They can give staff extra support and information.
4. Ask about the different types of accounts they have.


Remember the important laws:
• The Equality Act says people with a disability must get equal access to banking
• The Mental Capacity Act helps people make their own decisions and explains how to check someone’s capacity.
• Banking laws on identity, data protection and clear information.


With Capacity Without Capacity
Support (Reasonsable Adjustments) Appointee Account
Third Party Mandate Court of Protection – Single Decision
Joint Account Court of Protection – Deputy
Basic Bank Account Lasting Power of Attorney (If this was set up when you had capacity
Ordinary Power or Attorney
Lasting Power or Attorney

These accounts are slightly different with each bank.
They may have different names and work in different ways.                                                                                                                         Ask each bank to tell you what they have



How to deal with problems?



1. Ask them to explain their decision and what else they can do to help you.
2. Ask if they have a disability or customer services team that can help them or that you can talk to.
3. Speak to the manager in the bank.
4. Speak to the bank’s head office.
5. Make a formal complaint to the bank.
6. Report the problem to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Conduct Authority.
7. Contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service helpline, Disability Law Service or Citizens Advice Bureau.
8. Think about taking the bank to court.

October 10th, 2022

Posted In: Banking, News and Blogs, Stories

Being Bettina’s Dad – Being a Carer.

Being Bettina’s Dad – Being a Carer – A blog written by our Managing Director, Steve Raw.

This is Bettina. Bettina copes with autism and a learning disability.

Bettina is our pride and joy.

Dozing on the settee after a hard day’s work my pager started to beep.  I woke up and phoned my transport department.   They had the call that Joyce was going into labour, and they were sending a vehicle round to our flat to rush me to Berlin Military Hospital (BMH).  We were 10 months into a two-year tour of occupied Berlin, and it was still a couple of years before the ‘Wall’ was to come down.

Within a couple of hours our beautiful daughter Bettina had come into our lives.  It would be another 18 months before she was diagnosed with severe autism and a learning disability, but that didn’t matter to us (and still doesn’t) she is our beautiful daughter and love is enough.  Being Bettina’s Dad: When love is not enough to keep you Safe and Secure – Leadership in the Raw

As I write this article, I have just received an invite from MacIntyre Families @MacFamilies  to be interviewed for a podcast.  MacIntyre Families work with “all families ,siblings and circles of support to ensure voices are being heard, understood & importantly working together.”

So immediately I started thinking of the answers to potential questions and writing an article I could share which may help other carers and people who have an interest in supporting people.

Joyce and I are super organised and from the moment we got together we started planning.  Having two daughters was always the plan, although I must admit that being a parent carer was not in the action plan.

“Most things don’t work out as expected but what happens instead often turns out to be the good stuff”  Dame Judi Dench

On reflection, and 35 years of supporting Bettina, Dame Judi was quite right that it does indeed ‘turns out to be the good stuff’.  ‘B’ as she is often referred to by her family, has enriched our lives and has taught us on what is important and what really is unimportant.

How has she done this?

Part 1.  “Everybody has plans until they get hit for the first time”.  Mike Tyson

1992 was not our family’s best year.  Both my mum and father-in law passed away within weeks of each other; I had a severe bout of flu at the beginning of the year, and Bettina was permanently excluded from school halfway through her first term!

  1. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and those experiences drew us even closer together as a family knowing that we were dependant on each other and meant that we could bounce back and take on the world on behalf of Bettina.
  2. Money was super-tight at the time, as we had only just bought our first house and the interest rates skyrocketed to 15%, but we managed to find some money for a week in Great Yarmouth, our first holiday as a family – we still reminisce about that holiday – but we have found that when Bettina spends (intensive) time with her family on her hols she progresses at an increased rate, and she certainly did that year.
  3. With lots of teamwork, perseverance and love we got through 1992. Bettina quickly returned to school under its new leadership and enhanced provision.

Part 2. “Make up your mind that no matter what comes your way, no matter how difficult, no matter how unfair, you will do more than simply survive. You will thrive in spite of it.” —Joel Osteen

We thrived in spite of it:

  1. Joyce set up a support group for carers which morphed into a Carers Centre which also provided for Young Carers – the most vulnerable of carers.
  2. In 1996 on retirement from my Army career I started a new career in social care supporting adults with a learning disability. I am still thriving 26 years later as a Managing Director for Dosh supporting adults with a learning disability to have more control and independence with their money.
  3. Over the last 30 years Bettina has brought laughter, fun and joy to her family. We have grown together while always keeping a sense of perspective thanks to ‘B’. I truly think there is nothing we can’t face as a family.


Part 3 – “I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” Audrey Hepburn


Five fun things we get from being a carer for Bettina:

  1. As Bettina does not appear to have any concept of age both, Joyce and I are expected to function at the same energy level we did 30 years ago. I live a completely different life to the one my parents did at the age I am now.
  2. While Bettina’s verbal communication is limited, she does astound us sometimes with her opinions when she suddenly joins in the conversation at the dinner table. This often happens when I am pontificating about something.  Bettina suddenly comments “I don’t care” which has us all falling about with laughter.  A side eye from ‘B’ tells us she meant it.
  3. Bettina’s sayings and phrases are unique to her (‘B’ often creates new ones too) and she often expresses them in public – we know what they mean but fortunately the general public do not!
  4. Bettina gets us out of social engagements we don’t want to be part of. No extended family on Christmas day for us.  “Bettina needs calm and quiet”
  5. Bettina helps us find and hold on to our “inner child” too easily lost when you become an adult: Being Bettina’s Dad: Finding your inner child and not forgetting to lose it – Leadership in the Raw

A quote for Bettina’s family and all carers:

“When written in Chinese the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

Thank you, Bettina, for giving us a lifetime of opportunities.

Bettina with her big sister, Jennifer, and her dad.

Woolacombe Beach 2022

Picture courtesy of Joyce Raw (‘B’s tiger mum)

July 27th, 2022

Posted In: News and Blogs, Uncategorized

Dosh Banking Guide Part One


In 2014, we created a report called Making Banking Easier. Our report highlighted some of the problems faced by people with a learning disability when banking.

It’s now 8 years since we published our report, and people with a learning disability still face many of the same challenges when banking. The advice we gave in the guide is still as important today as it was back then.





About Bank Accounts Bank Account

Bank accounts are a way to look after and use your money through a bank or building society.  Bank accounts are used for a lot of different things. You can put your money into your bank account, whether its from work or benefit payments. The money in your account can be used to pay bills and buy things you like. You can also keep money in your account to save for things for the future, like a holiday.


Banks can offer you a lot of different services. They can offer loans, mortgages and more. They also offer different types of bank account including Savings Accounts, Basic Bank Accounts, and Current Accounts.

If you have a bank account, your bank may write to you about the other services they offer. You should check carefully before you agree to anything new, and talk about any changes with a friend or advisor.

Getting a Bank account

You should be careful when signing up to a bank account or another banking service. You need to make sure you know what you are signing, how it will work, and how much it will cost you. Speak to someone you trust before you agree to anything with your bank.

Changing and closing your bank account

If you’re not happy with your bank account anymore, you should speak to your bank. They will be able to help you to close or change your account. It is easy to change or switch your bank account to one you would prefer. If you find an account you would like to switch to, speak to this bank who will help you switch from your old account.

Sometimes your bank will make a change to your account. If this happens, they will write to you to explain the changes they are making.


How can I get support with banking?

Whilst you don’t have to tell your bank about your disability, it can help if you tell them what adjustments and support you need. This could be physical if you require a wheelchair, or supporting you to understand the information the bank is giving you.


What should banks be doing?

  • start by assuming that you have capacity.
  • have different types of accessible information before you get a service (like advertising) and when you get the service (like in letters). They must tell you about these and make them available.
  • support you to understand the information they give you.
  • offer different ways of accessing a service and tell you about these. This should include internet and phone services.
  • have branches that you can visit. Some banks have a branch near you, or let you use their services through the Post Office.
  • accept different things as proof of identity. They can tell you what different things they accept as proof.
  • judge someone’s capacity to make a decision by following the Mental Capacity Act, if they are worried or unsure about someone’s capacity.
  • explain why they will not give you a service or how they have decided that you do not have capacity.
  • aim to use the least restrictive option for people who lack capacity.
  • offer each person the best access to banking for them. This could include different types of bank accounts that can be used with support if someone does not have the capacity to manage a bank account by themselves.


With Capacity

If you have the capacity to manage a bank account but still want some support, there are different things you can do, including:

Support from your bank: Banks can give you different types of support. For example, they can give you a chip and signature card, instead of a chip and PIN card. A PIN is a secret 4-digit number you usually have to remember to use your card.

They can give you information in different formats (like Easy Read) and they can explain things to you if they are hard to understand.

Third party mandate: You give another person temporary access to your bank account. The bank will have a form to let you do this.

Joint account: You share a bank account with another person and you both have full access to the money.

Basic bank account: You have your own bank account but it has some limits on what it can do. The details are different between the different banks.

They are for people with a low credit score, people that do not want an overdraft and people that want to limit how much they can spend and reduce the risks and costs of having a bank account.

Ordinary Power of Attorney: You give someone else control over all or part of your money and finances. This will stop if you lose capacity.

Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs: You give someone power over your money and finances when you still have capacity.

They can help you manage your money if you would like them to, even if you have capacity to do so yourself


Without capacity

Appointee account: Your appointee (the person or group that manages your benefits for you) has a separate account for your benefit money (like the Dosh Client Account).

Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs: You give someone power over your money and finances when you still have capacity.

Later, when you lose capacity to look after your own money, your attorney can step in and manage your money and property for you.

Court of Protection decision: This is usually for a one-off or single decision, for example the court decides to let someone else sign a tenancy agreement for a house for you.

Court of Protection Deputy for property and financial affairs: The court decides to appoint someone (your deputy) who can make decisions about your money for you, if you cannot make those decisions yourself.

Your deputy must work hard to support you to make decisions about your money yourself. The deputy must only step in and make a decision for you, if you cannot make that decision, even with lots of help and support.

If you are interested in these options, speak to your bank to find out what they can offer you. The details of each account will be different between banks and it is a good idea to ask what other options they offer.

Remember, make sure you understand all the information about any banking service before you sign up for it.

If you want more information about making legal changes like power of attorney or the Court of Protection, visit the website

July 17th, 2022

Posted In: Banking, News and Blogs

Dosh Strategy for 2022-23

Dosh logo

Dosh Strategy for 2022-23

Dosh’s mission continues to be for people to have more control and independence over their money. More particularly, Dosh’s purpose is to empower, give voice to and enable everyone with a learning disability to be more independent and have more control over their money to live the life they choose.


Our 10 Commitments for Dosh in 2022-23

Dosh 10 Commitments for 2022/23

  • We make ‘commitments’ because we are committed to doing what we say we will do. (we are not in the business of ‘wishing’ or ‘hoping’)
  • We ‘Endeavour’ (showing real intent to see things through to the end because ‘trying’ doesn’t cut it for Dosh)

  1. Project 2000

The Dosh Board and Managers met in November 2021 to work on their company strategy from 2022 – 2025: identifying our goals, the strategies necessary to accomplish those goals and the internal performance management system that will be used to monitor and evaluate progress.

To encapsulate this strategic direction Dosh will launch ‘Project 2000’ to get Dosh ready to support 2000+ people in three years

In 2022/23 we will meet our objectives set out in the Project Implement Document for Project 2000.

  1. Wellbeing and Diversity

Supporting staff wellbeing, diversity awareness and engagement

We believe our employee wellbeing can directly improve the mental and physical health of the workforce, with general health being linked to increased levels of productivity, performance and retention and reduced absence.

In 2022/23 we will celebrate diversity, ensure wellness & wellbeing and active engagement with our colleagues, and regularly ask them how they are feeling.

We will look at our systems and processes to keep our colleagues safe when supporting people

  1. Access to Money

Promoting better access to money for the people we support

We will look to create better access to spending money and cards for people we support who may not have capacity for banking/spending and inclusion in digital and online payments and spending.

We will carry out research into banking products which will empower the people we support to have quick and more responsive access to their money when they need it.

  1. Quality Assurance

Knowing we are doing a good job and ensuring consistency and quality as we grow

We will review our quality strategy and introduce specific roles in the team to take a lead on managing and developing quality across Dosh.

We will work with The Quality Company during 2022/23 on new Quality Assurance protocols which put the people we support at the centre of everything we do

  1. Risk Management – for people we support

                                                  – for our company

Making smart business decisions and being well managed

We will identify safeguarding risks to people we support with their money and seek to mitigate harm.

We will  evaluate risks and identify potential risks for our Dosh colleagues. .

We will evaluate risks and identify potential risks to our ‘business’ and company.

We will develop our business and management policies and operational processes including when someone is no longer supported or passes away, how we deal with complaints and how we report our performance. This will give clear oversight so that we make conscious, clearly recorded decisions.


  1. Leadership & Management

We will continue to build self-leadership and self-organising teams to enable dynamic and flexible leadership, growth, and development.

All of our team members are involved in communications and connections with colleagues, stakeholders, commissioners, families, and the people we support, and we consider each one of them to be a Leader.

Our  colleagues have been recruited for their values, beliefs and competencies and their desire to make a difference to the life of a person with a learning disability. We are a democratic company, and each member has an opportunity to make an input, contribution and change to the way we support people and the way our company is directed.



  1. Co-Production

If Dosh is to deliver successful services and support, we must understand the needs of the people we support and engage them closely in the design and delivery of those services.

Co-production is an approach where people, family members, carers, organisations, and commissioners work together in an equal way, sharing influence, skills, and experience to design, deliver and monitor services and projects.

Real co-production means that people are truly involved in planning and designing services from the very beginning.

We will work with people and those who are significant in their lives to make this happen in 2022-23.



  1. Finance – Quality and Affordability

  We will continue to exercise caution and control over our Budget and Budgetary management during 2022-23

We will continue to review how we monitor, evaluate and report on our management accounts, so that we become financially stronger and more sustainable.  Dosh will also consider Growth and Consolidation (in specific areas and regions of Great Britain) during this business cycle.

We will look at ways of making our support and services affordable for the people we support while catering for peoples unique and specialised needs


  1. Social Impact – Empowering People to lead fuller lives and reaching their full potential

  Understanding the relationship between actions, impact, and outcomes through data and information we gather

We will make a significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge.

For Dosh creating social impact will be the result of a deliberate set of activities with a goal matching this definition.

We will fully align our social impact management and reporting with Thera Trust


  1. Support to Thera Trust

We will add value to Thera Trust

This will include:


  • Research and pilot projects
  • Impact management – we will provide physical and logistical resources as and when needed
  • Social media – we will promote Thera companies’ media at every opportunity
  • Membership of committees and communication groups
  • Leadership Development and Training
  • Input into policies & procedures
  • Supporting ‘Open Innovation’ and collaboration across the Group


We will regularly evidence and report on our endeavours to meet each of these commitments.  We will do this through:


  • Chairpersons Report to the Thera Trust Board
  • MD Reporting to the Dosh Board
  • Social Impact Reporting to Thera Trust
  • Weekly to the Dosh Team via the end of week Dosh Newsletter


May 4th, 2022

Posted In: Dosh Strategy, News and Blogs

The 3rd Leadership Lesson I learned – Surround yourself with Talent









The 3rd Leadership Lesson I learned – Surround yourself with Talent

Standing in front of a room full of colleagues, I am about to open the Dosh (Financial Advocacy) Ltd*  conference as we celebrate our 15th Anniversary as a company.

*  is a ‘not for profit’ company and part of a charity supporting adults with a learning disability, with their money.

I look around the room and sense the anticipation, enthusiasm, and energy.  Once more I am surrounded by talent.

My colleagues have been recruited from the world of banking, local authorities, and social care and two team members are musicians!  They all share a commitment and passion for supporting people with a learning disability to have more control and independence over their money.

This was the third leadership lesson I learned in my first career in the Army – if you want to achieve great things, make a difference in other peoples lives and leave a lasting legacy you can’t do it on your own.

Always surround yourself with people who are even more talented and competent than you.” ~ Stephen Covey “If you have great people around you, they will take you higher than your dream will. Leaders are never self-made”.

How this has worked for Dosh in Five Ways: 

  1. Colleagues who have specific areas of expertise freely share their knowledge with each other which has a knock-on benefit for our customers.
  2. We recruit people for their values, knowledge, life experience and their leadership skills – all of our colleagues are leaders.
  3. Succession planning and Business Continuity has never been an issue for Dosh, we have always had colleagues ready and willing to step into the ‘breach’ whenever there is a need.
  4. You know when you have a successful team – it is when their ideas outnumber yours. Dosh has continued to thrive because of these ideas.
  5. We have sought out other teams within our wider organisation who can support us to deliver for the people we support: IT, Marketing, Contracts, Management Accountants, HR, Fundraising etc.  Super talented colleagues who we call ‘Friends of Dosh’ and we ensure that we express our gratitude for their help and support on a regular basis.


How surrounding yourself with talent has made me a better leader:

  1. As a leader you don’t have to have all the answers – my talented colleagues do!
  2. I have learned from those around me – how they work things out, how they see things from a different perspective and what they know that I don’t
  3. I have been able to progress my teams’ objectives so much quicker for having surrounded myself with talent.
  4. One of the leadership highlights in both my careers has been able to play a small part in developing people and progressing their careers. Their success will be my legacy.
  5. It has stopped me from being complacent. When you are surrounded by talent you need to perform to your highest standard every day.

10 Tips on how to surround yourself with talent and retain them:   

  1. Recruit and select people who have different backgrounds – go for diversity.
  2. Never stop talent-spotting even when you don’t have vacancies. I am constantly looking for people I may want to work with, join our team and be part of my network.
  3. You need to be secure in yourself as a leader and not feel threatened by people who are going to challenge what you do and what you think.
  4. Strive to build a reputation that you welcome and support talent.
  5. Find responsibilities that will challenge your talent, so they develop and feel accomplished
  6. Constantly be looking for opportunities for your colleagues, not just within your team, so they develop their portfolio of experiences.
  7. Don’t hold your colleagues back, if they move on then try to retain them within your network. This is something we strive for in Dosh, regularly inviting our former colleagues to our team events.  We never forget what they did for our company, they are our ‘Legends’ and are referred to as such.
  8. Look for people who are values-driven, have a positive attitude, lots of energy, and have a track record of delivering results.
  9. Always thank colleagues. As a manager at a Registered Care Home many years ago, at the end of every shift I personally thanked each colleague.  It was always a privilege to work with them.
  10. It is also important to work for good leaders. I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked for some amazing people who continue to be part of my network and influence my leadership and management.  In the early 90s I had the good fortune to work with Army officers, five of whom I am still in regular contact with and often call on their help and support.

And finally………

You know when you are surrounded by talented people – at the end of the day you are happily exhausted.   The venue where we are holding our company conference is huge with a labyrinth of corridors.  I don’t need to ask for directions to the restaurant, I just need to follow the growing sound of laughter and chatter of team members.

When you surround yourself with talent and recruit characters bristling with humour, ideas, and conversation, it’s a good place to be.

Angela Atkin a super talented colleague, the first team member and longest serving employee for Dosh Ltd

Cutting the Dosh 15th Anniversary Cake.



April 12th, 2022

Posted In: News and Blogs, Thought pieces

Become a Non-Executive Director with Dosh

Dosh logo

Dosh is a specialist company within the Thera Group and provides financial advocacy to people with a learning disability. We were set up to help people with a learning disability to have more control over their own money.

We are looking for people with the skills and dedication to help run the organisation as a Non-Executive Director on our board. You will help us to continue our charitable work and to develop our organisation for the future.

You will bring the following:

  • Believes in our vision and wants to help make sure the vision is lived every day.
  • Will have a shared passion to help the company evolve and succeed.
  • Will be supportive yet challenge our thinking.
  • Can commit to a minimum of 6 days a year plus be able to have the time for communications/ advice in between board meetings. (expenses paid)

Interested? Please contact [email protected] with your CV and we will be in touch.

December 13th, 2021

Posted In: News and Blogs

Values in Action

Steve Raw

By Steve Raw, Dosh Managing Director 



I started supporting people with a learning disability 25 years ago.  This is my second career.  My daughter, Bettina, was 9 years old at the time.  Bettina copes with a learning disability, autism, and epilepsy.  I knew what my values were (and they haven’t changed) but did I know what the values were of the organisation I was going to work for and if they had them, did they demonstrate them towards the people they support?

Several years ago, driving to the office on the M11, I was tuned into BBC Radio 5.  A listener was telling the presenter about the importance of British Values.  The presenter responds by saying what are they?  “urmm, mmmm, a pause” and after not getting a coherent response from the listener, the presenter eventually cuts to the next person.  I make a mental note not to make statements unless I can back them up and give examples.  I also think, could I name our company values and best of all could I provide evidence we live them?

I have recently  been invited by a couple of my colleagues to deliver a presentation to our team on ‘Values’.  Now is a good time to reflect before I put my talk together.

Definition for “Values”

A set of principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life.

A set of moral principles that help you to decide what is right and wrong, and how to act in various situations

A philosophy that is meaningful to the company

Related:   Giving Voices to Values – Leadership in the Raw by Meike Beckford

How they have worked in our company

Dosh (Financial Advocacy) Ltd is a company supporting adults with a learning disability to have more control and independence with their money. Dosh is a Not-for-Profit Company and I have had the honour of being Dosh’s Managing Director since 2009.  There are currently over 40 members of staff supporting 1200 people across England, Scotland, and Wales.

Our Values are a statement of intention and commitment to achieve a high level of performance for the people we support.

Our values are an internal reference and are designed to maintain a consistent approach in our work and support to people, no matter how much we grow as a company.

We have a ‘code’ which we share with each other, which includes:



Our Values

  • We care about the well-being and success of every person we work with and support
  • High standards are a way of life. We pursue excellence in everything we do.
  • We make a difference in every community we serve.
  • We respect and listen to our people.
  • We empower our people to make decisions that improve their work and benefit the people we support and our company.

Our Values are aimed towards each other and the people we support.   We do not differentiate.

Why Values?

  • Values influence people’s behaviour and serve as criteria for evaluating the actions of others.
  • They have a great role to play in the conduct of life.
  • They help in creating norms to guide day-to-day behaviour.
  • The values of a culture may change, but most remain stable during one person’s lifetime. The Dosh Values have been constant for the last 12 years
  • Defining your values and then living by them can help you and your colleagues feel more fulfilled


How we deliver them:

  • We consult with the people we support and set standards that they feel are important. Here is our: Dosh Promise – Dosh – Financial Advocacy
  • They drive our behaviour and our interactions with the people we support and each other
  • We regularly talk about our Values with each other, either on a one-to-one basis or as part of team.
  • We challenge each other – are we adhering to our values? (they are an internal reference about what is good)
  • A set of qualitive goals we strive to achieve each year (which is included in our business plan and regularly assessed).
  • We do what is right over what is easy. Here are our 8 pillars of Trust Doing what is right over doing what is easy – Leadership in the Raw



Personal Values are different for each person. These can be defined as ideas or beliefs that a person holds.

As I started my new work 25 years ago,  I had the opportunity to set up a new team from scratch which would support people to be part of their local community who had previously not left the Victorian institution where they lived.

On my first day I had decided that my benchmark would be ‘Bettina’ when it came to setting out our values.   What would I want for Bettina?  And would I be happy with the people I recruited supporting Bettina?  I have not moved from this position over the last quarter of a century.

Related:  Being Bettina’s Dad: Bettina’s Code of Conduct – Leadership in the Raw

Now define your Values:

Image courtesy of:

September 30th, 2021

Posted In: News and Blogs

Tags: , ,

Dosh’s 10 Commitments for 2021/2022

By Steve Raw, Managing Director & Joanne Davies, Charityworks Graduate

With the start of the new financial year comes the opportunity to look back on what we achieved in 2020/2021 and to set out what we will set out to do in the coming year.

2020 was a difficult year for everyone, and it was no different for Dosh. We had to adapt to the new and challenging conditions that corona virus brought about.

Nevertheless, Dosh adjusted to life during the pandemic extremely well, continuing to advocate for the people we support and visiting almost 80% of the people we support every three months, whether online or in person.

Moreover, we continued to improve and expand Dosh, using our three strategic aims as our guiding principles.



Those aims were: to have an impact and make sure all our work makes a positive, valuable difference for people with a learning disability,

To keep strong values and to support people as well as make business decisions that fit with our values and vision.

To influence the world around us through partnering with other organisations to share our knowledge and experience as well as speaking up for the people we support.

Dosh did excellently in making sure that we achieved those aims.

In regards to having a positive, valuable impact, 92% of the people we support said they were happy or very happy with the support they get from Dosh. To see the full results from the annual survey, click here.

In regards to keeping strong values, Dosh took a two-pronged approach, introducing a “Dosh Values” course for new staff to give them a strong sense of what Dosh stands for. We also promoted the people we support’s individual independence and control over their money, with 87% of the people we support saying that they can use their money to do what they want.

In regards to having an influence on the world around us, Dosh provided consultancy and training for other organisations, including care providers, local supporters and advisors.


So now, building on our successes from the last year, Dosh would now like to make 10 new commitments. Our new commitments are:




10 Commitments for Dosh in 2020-2021

1. Budget management

We will continue to exercise caution and control over our Budget and Budgetary management. 

We will continue to review how we monitor, evaluate and report on our management accounts, so that we become financially stronger and more sustainable.  Dosh will also consider Growth vs Consolidation during this business cycle.





 2. Leadership

We will be the leader in our field for Holacracy, self-leadership and team-leadership

Building sel

f-leadership and self-organising teams to enable dynamic and flexible leadership, growth and development to be at the centre of our culture.






3. Financial advocacy

What does financial advocacy mean now? How do we act as financial advocates for someone? 

During 2021 – 22 we need to continue to ask this question and check in with the people we support so that we continue to provide the support peo

ple want rather than what we think people want.  How does that shape our external communications, the image we want to give and the research/projects/consultancy/campaigns we undertake?



4. Quality Assurance & Control

Knowing we are doing a good job and ensuring consistency and quality as we grow

We will review our quality strategy and introduce specific roles in the team to take a lead on managing and developing quality across Dosh.





5. Impact Measurement and Management

Knowing what makes a difference so we can have a greater impact

Dosh will develop its own impact management project to review and develop the positive impact we can have, alongside providing support and resources (both physical and equipment) to the Thera Group’s Impact Management strategy.



6. Financial and digital access:

Promoting better access to money for the people we support

We will look to create better access to spending money and cards for people we support who may not have capacity for banking/spending and inclusion in digital and online payments and spending. One of a number of research projects we will progress during 21/22.




7. Communication

How we communicate with our stakeholders.

With clearer/smarter data and information management we will find the best method, style and media to connect with people







Supporting staff wellbeing, diversity and engagement

We believe our employee wellbeing can directly improve the mental and physical health of the workforce, with general health being linked to increased levels of productivity, performance and retention and reduced absence.  During this business year we will celebrate diversity, ensure wellness & wellbeing and active engagement with our colleagues.






9. Risk Management

Making smart business decisions and being well managed

We will develop our business and management policies and operational processes including when someone is no longer supported or passes away, how we deal with complaints and how we report our performance. This will give clear oversight so that we make conscious, clearly recorded decisions.




  1. Thera Trust support 

We will add value to Thera Trust

This will include:


  • Research and pilot projects
  • Impact management
  • Social media
  • Membership of committees and communication groups
  • Leadership Development and Training
  • Input into policies & procedures
  • Supporting ‘Open Innovation’ and collaboration across the Group


To understand more about the Dosh 10 Commitments, watch our youtube video!

Dosh 10 Commitments v2 – YouTube

April 6th, 2021

Posted In: News and Blogs, Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

Working on Benefits






By Meike Beckford, Previous Lead Director

Benefits that are not affected
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) & Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
These are based on care and mobility needs. They are not affected by work.




Benefits that are affected
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
“Permitted work” is allowed up to:
• £140 per week and under 16 hours
• £140 per week for any hours for “supported permitted work”. This applies if you are supported by an organisation (like a Local Authority) that supports disabled people to work.

You may also be eligible for Access to Work funding if you are doing permitted work.

Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) and Incapacity Benefit follow the same rules for permitted work as ESA.


Income Support
This also follows the same rules as ESA for permitted work.
Your benefits will be reduced once you earn over £20 per week. For every £1 you earn over £20 you will lose £1 of your benefits.



Universal Credit
There will not be any limits to the number of hours you can work, but the amount of Universal Credit you get will reduce as you work more:
• £292 per month (if you get housing costs with UC)
• £512 per month (if you do not get housing costs in UC)

Above this amount you will lose 63p of Universal Credit for every £1 extra you earn. This will be taken off automatically.



                                           Housing benefit
The amount you work does not affect your housing benefit, but your income and savings do affect it. Permitted work earnings usually don’t count as income (only the first £20 if you get Income Support).
If you keep ESA or Income Support, you are likely to keep Housing Benefit, but you should check.






You must tell Jobcentre Plus and the Local Council before volunteering or starting work, even if it is permitted.






Working Over 16 Hours
If you work over 16 hours per week you must tell the Jobcentre Plus and Local Council.
You will stop receiving Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance.
You may be able to claim other benefits and support including:
• Working tax credits
• Universal Credit
• Access to work:


                                      Working tax credits
* These are being replaced by Universal Credit.*
If you already have a tax credits claim, you will usually work:
• at least 30 hours
• at least 16 hours if you are disabled, over 60 and/or have children
How much you can get in tax credits and how much you can earn from work depends on your circumstances, for example if you are disabled, or have children or a partner.




Voluntary Work
Voluntary work will not affect your benefits. It does not count towards your hours of “permitted work” under ESA.
You can only be paid reasonable expenses (like a bus fare).







More Information
• Current benefits:
o Universal Credit and work:
o ESA and work:
• Support on finding work if you are disabled:
• Help with moving from benefits to work:
• Find out what benefits you should be getting:

• Disability Rights UK guide to working on benefits: ~ [email protected] ~ 0300 303 1288


Disclaimer – We have tried to ensure that the information in this document is
accurate. We will not accept liability for any loss, damage or inconvenience arising
as a consequence of any use of information – we always recommend you check with
the DWP or your local Job Centre Plus.
Version 6: February 2021.

Text © Dosh Ltd. 2018. Widgit Symbols © Widgit Software 2002-2021


March 1st, 2021

Posted In: News and Blogs

Tags: ,

Self-organising teams

Working for Dosh word cloud

By Meike Beckford, previous Lead Director for Dosh

This post builds on a previous post I wrote about self-leadership and here I will take you through an example of how team-level self-leadership (or self-organising teams) can be developed through a model called holacracy. I will share the experiences we have had so far in Dosh in piloting this in 2020 and the benefits I have found it can bring.

Overall, the principle of self-organising teams is quite a broad one, with the overall goal being for the team to manage, arrange and lead its own work. This ultimately builds on the idea that in our dynamic and fast evolving world, we cannot rely on the traditional approach of everyone repeating the same monotonous tasks on autopilot whilst leaving the thinking to one designated leader or the organising to one manager. As I mentioned in my innovation post over a year ago, no one person has a monopoly on knowledge or talent, and we are stronger when we involve everyone in contributing to the direction of the team. In addition, hierarchies can become slow and stifle innovation as they create an approval lag that means the team has to wait for a decision to go up the chain and pass back down before they can do anything. It therefore removes decision-making from those with the information and ‘live’ experience who cannot respond quickly to changing circumstances and needs on the ground.

Taking these processes and hierarchies away can raise some alarm bells of course – how do you stop it descending into anarchy, with everyone doing what they like, no overall direction, risk management or business planning? What about the team members? How do you still support, train and develop them if everyone is doing it themselves? It may be quite a scary concept, not only for managers used to telling people what to do, but for team members used to the security of someone else making the decision so they can just show up and carry out the day job.

This is where models like holacracy become useful, through a gradual adoption process that avoids the cliff edge that might risk a collapse into anarchy. Holacracy is an organisational structure based on creating holons, or circles (teams). Members document all the roles they hold (not just one overall job) and write the purpose and accountabilities of each one. These roles are visible to all and they are constantly evolving through a bespoke meeting and organisational structure that allows everyone in the team to develop the roles in response to what they and the organisation needs.

Having documented roles makes them explicit, transparent and gives a clear scope of authority to each – it takes away much of the misunderstanding about who is responsible for what and helps roles work together from a clear starting point. The structure (through governance meetings) for processing changes ‘holds space’ for everyone and ensures they each have a voice, but is skewed towards making changes by using the test of ‘will it cause harm’ (that cannot later be reversed) as the bar for objecting to a change. Thus, most things are ‘safe to try’ and the team (or circle) is empowered to give things a go and take responsibility for making (and reviewing) changes that will better enable them to achieve their goals.

The system distributes leadership and power across the organisation.

This is something we have trialled in Dosh in the last year, experimenting with the meeting formats and documenting the roles we fulfil. It has taken some adjustment but has brought a number of clear benefits:

  • A ‘refresh’ of roles by creating accurate role descriptions that reflect what people actually do day-to-day – this is open for all to see and has allowed us to address misunderstandings and discuss where tasks and responsibilities should fall, led by the teams when they spot something that doesn’t fit, rather than dictated by the manager.
  • Opening up team data through our regular tactical meetings. Teams are looking at how they are getting on at a team, not just individual, level, for example monitoring performance and capacity so that they can share workload across the team more effectively and be part of recruitment and work allocation decisions.
  • A sense of shared responsibility has developed from this, so that they are aware of how they are doing (and the competitive ones can compare themselves to other teams!) and support each other if someone is struggling. If something is blocking them from working effectively, they have a forum and the authority to deal with it themselves.
  • Pilot projects and new roles have emerged from these conversations, where the team have identified gaps – e.g. ‘we need a better way to quality check our own work’ and have implemented a peer checking project to try this out. Had this been introduced by management it might have appeared an imposition that creates extra work, or even a rebuke for poor practice, but as a team idea it developed into a tool for mutual support and development. This has strengthened our overall practice – showing again that many minds are better than one!

It has of course also brought its challenges, particularly the strange meeting format and terminology. People’s openness to the approach depends on where the team is in itself, so not all are ready to adopt at the same pace or with the same enthusiasm, but these obstacles can be overcome as we work on the system together, tailoring it to our own needs and developing it together so that everyone has a sense of ownership and control over our development.

For me, the biggest thing is that it reinforces and supports our existing culture and leadership practice where we all work together to achieve our overall purpose.

Whether your own team or organisation is already there, or this is somewhere you’d like to get to, exploring self-organising teams and holacracy might be the tool you need to find a turning point and build towards change.


Read more about Dosh’s leadership practice in Steve’s post on Leadership in the Raw.

To learn more about holacracy, try this video or read the founder’s book: Brian Robertson (2015) Holacracy : the revolutionary management system that abolishes hierarchy, London : Portfolio Penguin


Happy exploring!

February 8th, 2021

Posted In: News and Blogs

Tags: ,

Annual Review 2020 Results

By Joanne Davies, Charityworks graduate and Meike Beckford, Lead Director


The results are in for the Dosh Annual Review 2020 and they are excellent!

We asked all of the people we support, their support staff and families to complete a survey telling Dosh how we did this year. Almost 200 people replied with their thoughts and what they would like to see in future from Dosh. We asked you to tell us what you think about Dosh as a whole as well as lots of different parts of our service to see where our strengths lie and where more work needs to be put in to make sure you are getting the most out of Dosh.

The Annual Review results (which you can download here) show an overview of what you thought of Dosh’s work this past year. Here are some of the highlights:

  • 92% of people who responded were either Happy or Very Happy with the support Dosh offers.
  • 94% said Dosh kept their money safe.
  • 87% of people who responded said they were able to use their money to do the things they want.

“Manager xxx offers and recommends Dosh to all new clients and believes it offers best possible way for vulnerable people to have and look after money”

“I feel like [my advocate] knows me and understands me. But she will make sure I am not wasting my money unnecessarily which means my money is safe.”

“[My advocate] is amazing, she is very involved and makes people’s dreams come true”

  • 85% said their money plan included all the things they enjoy doing.
  • 85% of people who responded said Dosh sent them their money and paid their bills on time.
  • 85% agreed or strongly agreed that their advocates know them, their likes and dislikes

Learning from the review and what we do now

We also want to get better based on your feedback from the review.

“Bills paid and managed, budgets adaptive and person centred and maximising income means [the people we support] have money to enjoy life”

We know that payments and communication are working really well for most people, but we don’t get it right all the time so we could still get better. We have already increased the number of people working in our finance team, so they have time for everyone’s requests and we are reviewing our processes to help us make payments processes as smooth as possible.

We will keep working with you to make the Money Plan easier to understand and enable you to use it between visits and ensure you have access to this even when we can’t visit in person.

Our experience from the Coronavirus lockdown has shown how important online and card payments are and we are looking at new ways to enable more online payments and give people access to cards where needed if they can’t do this themselves. Our aim is to enable people to be as independent as possible with their money and be able to use money for the things they want. This means we will still support you to look at what options are already out there from banks etc. that would give you your own account. For those people that can’t manage this, we are piloting a debit card through the Dosh account and hope to be able to roll this out in 2021.

“[Our advocates] are lovely, they know [this person’s] likes and dislikes, speak to her with respect and never rush her”

As we have not been able to visit most people in person for a while, we wanted to ask how you had found remote support and what you would like going forward. Most people said they would like a mixture of in-person and remote visits. We will work with you in 2021 to test this and think about how we can still be financial advocates for everyone we support without seeing them so often.


You can download the full results here or read about our Dosh Promise to understand the standards we are working to.


December 8th, 2020

Posted In: News and Blogs

Tags: , , ,

Impact, Values and Influence: Our Strategy for 2020-21

By Meike Beckford, Lead Director


While we have been busy adapting our support to lockdown conditions with Coronavirus, we’ve been a little quiet on our other projects. We are now lucky enough to have our teams set up to work from home and in between continuing our core payments and advocacy work, we have been turning our attention back to our goals for the coming year.

When we started planning for 2020-21, we thought about what was really important in our work. How do we make a difference and achieve our mission to give people more independence and control over their money? We wanted to make sure that, whatever new opportunities and developments came our way, we remained focused on our core mission.


To do this, we came up with 3 strategic themes:

Strategy banner

 1.  Impact

Making sure all our work makes a positive, valuable difference for people with a learning disability.

2.  Values

Supporting people and making business decisions that fit with our values and vision, for example to promote people’s independence and control.

3.  Influence

Partnering with other organisations to share our knowledge and experience and speak up for the people we support.


We want to use this direction to help us make decisions about what we do over the coming year. How we decide which projects to take on, which areas to work in and how best to support people. So, this year, we’ll be asking:

Impact: how will this positively impact the people we support?

Values: how are we acting and what are we speaking up for?

Influence: how does this grow our voice to achieve our mission for people we support?

This isn’t something we can achieve alone, so we are excited to be working with our partners including the people we support and their families and circles of support; the over 200 support providers we work with across the country; social services and healthcare professionals; financial services and benefits agencies. We look forward to sharing our projects with you and welcome any ideas you’d like to share with us.

This is all working towards achieving our purpose to empower, give voice to and enable each person with a learning disability to be more independent and have more control over their money so they can live the life they choose.


Read more about our vision and purpose with the Dosh Promise.


May 15th, 2020

Posted In: News and Blogs, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

Benefit rate changes for 2020

By Peter Smith, Financial Advocate and New Business Advocate for Dosh

April generally brings a review of benefit rates and this year is no exception. There is some welcome news for working age benefit recipients, and a one-off increase for Universal Credit recipients to reflect the current Coronavirus situation. Pension benefits continue to enjoy the ‘triple lock’, which means they increase by the most favourable amount calculated from three different elements. Let’s look at some of the changes, starting with working age benefits.

The then Chancellor George Osborne announced a freeze on the personal allowance element of benefits in 2016, but that has changed for 2020 and for the first time in five years the basic personal allowance element will increase by 1.7%. This change affects Jobseekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (both personal allowances and the work-related activity component), Income Support, Child and Working Tax Credits, some elements of Housing Benefit and finally Universal Credit. You can see some examples of the increased figures on our benefits uprating poster.

For Universal Credit (UC) recipients only – so this does not apply if you are in receipt of any other benefit – there will be an additional amount of £20 per week, paid for the next twelve months until April 2021. As UC is actually paid monthly this means that the standard allowance for a person over 25 will increase from £317.82 per month to £409.89 per month. Other components of UC are also increased by 1.7%.

There is also welcome news for those who receive help with housing costs either via UC or through Housing Benefit. If you are subject to the limits provided by the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) – so if you rent from a private landlord, for instance – then the LHA will also increase by 1.7%.

This is also the first increase in this allowance for five years.

For pension age benefit recipients, then both State Pension and the minimum amount of Pension Credit increase by the triple lock figure, which for 2020/21 is based on the average earnings index, and brings an increase of 3.9%. Please see the uprating poster for some examples of what that means in pounds for Pension Credit. State Pension entitlements are all individually calculated, so people can have different amounts, but the full amount of the new State Pension goes up from £168.60 per week to £175.20.

Disability benefits like Personal Independence Payment and Disability Living Allowance have continued to be increased each year while the other benefits were frozen. This is also the case for 2020, and these benefits are also increased by 1.7%. Again, please see our uprating poster for some examples of the actual figures. This increase also applies to the disability premiums payable with some means tested benefits like ESA and Pension Credit, so they will rise too.

While most benefit increases lag behind the increases in earnings, it is good to see some relaxation of restrictions this year with the basic personal allowances and the LHA. Hopefully this will be of help to those who need it most.


If you are supported by Dosh, your Financial Advocate will include these increases on your next Money Plan.

If you manage your own benefit and want to check you are getting the benefits you are entitled to, you can use an online calculator: or view all the relevant rates for each benefit at For a more detailed review, Dosh can conduct a Money Check.

April 28th, 2020

Posted In: News and Blogs

Tags: , , , , , ,

Dosh support for managing your money during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We have put together some information on how your support from Dosh will operate during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the UK and what we can do to help you buy the things you need.


Update 26/10/2020: We are gradually resuming some in person visits to people we support, where necessary. To do this safely, we are following strict risk assessment and review processes to ensure that everyone stays as safe as possible at this time.  We are restricting the number of visits we complete for now, so please bear with us while we make bookings as it may take some time before we can arrange to visit you. If you would like to request an in person visit, please speak to your Financial Advocate first.

Our aim continues to be to provide the best financial advocacy we can to each individual. We know for some people this is hard when we are not there in person, so we will prioritise those people to visit. If you are happy to stay with virtual visits for now, we can continue to do Money Plan reviews via phone and video call. If you need help accessing these, please let us know.


Dosh Advocates and office staff will continue to work and support you as best we can:

  • Your regular payments will go in and out of your Dosh account as usual
  • We are cancelling most in person visits and meetings
  • Please contact your Advocate by phone / email
  • Please request any extra transfers or online orders through your Advocate

We have some guides which you can download and we have summarised the main information below.





Options for getting cash and banking access

Speak to your bank and your Dosh Financial Advocate if you are worried about how you will access money at this time.

Some options you could consider are:

  • Request a debit card with contactless for your current personal account
  • Give others limited access to your account e.g. through an authorisation letter, or third party mandate. Speak to your bank about how to do this.
  • Look at a new account/card online e.g. prepaid card (Money Saving Expert guide here) or basic bank account (Money Saving Expert guide here)
  • Speak to your support provider about getting a cash advance, or company credit card
  • Use Dosh open credit (speak to your Advocate about this)
  • Ask Dosh Finance to make payments online e.g. for supermarket shopping and other delivery companies, or buy shop gift cards.

If you have any concerns about managing money at this time, please contact us.

For guidance from other Thera Group companies and more general resources on Coronavirus, please visit the Thera website.


March 17th, 2020

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Your Money. Your Way. Dosh’s Financial Capability Workshops

FACET Cambs Group with certificates

By Michaela Le Bail, Project Manager and Financial Advocate


In 2018 Dosh Financial Advocacy received a grant from NatWest to deliver Money Awareness Training throughout the United Kingdom with a focus on the East of England.  The training was specifically for people with a learning disability aged between 18 and 30 and we also offered training to their main carers who could have separate training if they wanted or could attend the same training as the people they support. Thanks to the grant, we were able to offer this on a fee free basis throughout 2019.

The training was delivered by two trainers from Dosh to groups from one to 40 people, over 4 two-hour workshops and usually held somewhere familiar to the participants, such as their school or a local community centre.  The training aimed to build people’s independent living and finance skills and knowledge, as well as supporting people to become more confident around money. We wanted to make sure that there was a greater understanding of where money came from and how to keep it safe.

We discussed:

  • where benefits come from and the basics of benefit entitlement
  • how to make financial decisions, like deciding where to buy things from
  • how to budget
  • how to plan for the things you want after paying for all of the things you need
  • mate crime and who to tell should someone be taking money that shouldn’t be
  • how to keep safe online and avoid scams


Group at workshop


We used lots of different learning methods including lots of games with picture cards, creative activities, scenarios and sharing actual experiences, using questions, and giving key information in slides and learning booklets. We looked at generic bank statements to understand how to read them and then designed our own accessible ones! We also played games such as our Money Plan Game – this is a fantastic game with a really easy to read format which includes picture symbols (widgits) and it shows how to budget in an easy to understand way. This game is now available through our website at and is free to use; it is a great way to learn budgeting.  We also have some free carers factsheets available which many of the carers found useful.


Many of the participants would have been easily scammed or financially abused before the training as they had not been shown what kind of things were not ok, whether it was from someone they already knew or a stranger. I feel that the knowledge they gained in this area will help many of them in the future not be in that position.


There was a huge variation in how much understanding the participants already came with and so we tailored each workshop to the ability of the group to make sure that everyone had the best chance to finish with as much new knowledge possible. Although it was quite detailed in some parts, we received lots of praise on how much had been learned by everyone who attended and most people looked forward to their sessions. We were lucky to be joined by The Quality Company who conducted a peer evaluation of the workshops.

They found that 87% of people said the course had taught them more about money and 73% felt they could make better choices with their money.

On the final workshop we gave certificates out to those who had attended all of the sessions – I have to say this was, by far, my favourite bit. Calling out people’s names and watching them walk up to the front to collect their certificates hugely proud of themselves for attending and learning.

It was like being at the Oscars!

We even had some people looking and waving back to the others and plenty of smiles, claps and hollers followed all around.

FACET Cambs Group with certificates

FACET Group with certificates


All in all we delivered the training to over 200 participants and their main carers, it was very worthwhile and we look forward to delivering more workshops in the future. Dosh provides training workshops for colleges, self-advocacy groups, carers groups, support providers and Local Authorities, from one-hour of money games, to a full day’s session on how to support people well with money, all tailored to the group’s particular needs. If you would like to know more about our training, please have a read and get in touch with us to discuss what you’re looking for.


We would like to extend our thanks to NatWest’s Skills and Opportunities Fund for providing the funding to deliver this project and all the groups that supported and attended our workshop sessions.


February 28th, 2020

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Dosh Winter Newsletter 2019-20

Welcome to the Dosh Money Pack newsletter for Winter 2019-20!

This edition of the newsletter was put together by Grace Sodzi, our Dosh Financial Assistant.

Download the full newsletter to read all our updates and tweet us @DoshTweets or contact us to tell us what you think.

If you have ideas for future newsletter pieces, please get in touch!


This edition includes:


 Dosh logo

The Dosh team


Dosh News


Safer winter driving

 cost icon - image of tag with picture of coins and paper notes

Funeral costs update

Dosh logo

Dosh Days: our purpose and strategy


Benefits updates

Dosh BID and referral form changes

Keeping warm and health this winter

 Bill savings over winter

 10 great disability podcasts


Financial Advocacy in Action

January 9th, 2020

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Find people who make you better

Dosh’s Managing Director for the past 10 years, Steve Raw, is moving onto a new post within Thera Trust and so we are saying a fond farewell, thank you and good luck to Steve for his leadership at Dosh. Meike Beckford is taking over as Lead Director from 1st November 2019 and is looking forward to working with the Dosh team, people we support and partners across the UK as financial advocates promoting people’s control and independence with money.

As Steve leaves Dosh, he has been reflecting on his time with us and has written this piece on surrounding himself with ‘people who make you better’. Here is his blog post on the subject, reblogged from


I am interviewing our second candidate with Meike Beckford, Dosh’s Financial Advocacy Manager for a position with Dosh Ltd  a company I have had the honour of being the Managing Director for over the last 10 years.  It is my turn to be asked a question by the interviewee and to be honest it is not one I was expecting.  “So what do you find is the best part of working for Dosh?”  My response comes to me immediately.  I say “it is reading the stories that my colleagues send me about how they have made a difference to another person’s life”  Before each Board Meeting each team member sends me a story about their most recent work and their involvement in supporting a person to have more independence and control with their money.  I always find their stories moving and inspirational.

The Dosh team come from a diverse background and they are totally committed and dedicated to people with a learning disability.  I am truly surrounded by talent and I will be a better leader and manager for this experience.  Working for Dosh has been the highlight of my second career.

How did that happen?

I started as a Community Support Team Leader (& Support Worker) supporting people with a learning disability, after retiring from the Army in 1996. I was inspired by my daughter Bettina (who copes with a learning disability) to enter this field of work.  I wanted to make a difference and I decided the best way to do this was to seek out the best people to work with and for.  If I was going to achieve success and be successful, I would need to surround myself with talent.  I knew from experience that doing this would make me better a person and a better leader too.

I subsequently became a Registered Home Manager, Area Manager, Operations Manager, Regional Director, and a Director of Learning Disabilities, before achieving my dream job in 2009 as Managing Director of Dosh (Financial Advocacy) Ltd a subsidiary company of Thera Trust.

If you have the ability to work with people smarter than you, always try to be the least smartest person in the room and surround yourself with talent, because iron sharpens iron.  Jake M Johnson

The purpose of this post is to share with you how I have personally benefited from finding people who have made me better and why this is a good thing to do.

Why should you endeavour to find people who make you better?

My 5 top reasons for doing this are as follows:

  1. You want to be the best person you could possibly be
  2. They will fill gaps in both your knowledge and expertise. You can’t possibly know it all.
  3. They will teach you new things.  In Dosh this has been a daily experience for me over the last 10 years.  I often tell one of my colleagues that every time I read one of her emails I am educated.
  4. They inspire you to do great things.   (As a leader you don’t always have to be the person inspiring).
  5. They stop you from being complacent.  Talented people have high expectations.  They expect something special from you, so it is important you deliver (every day).

How do you go about finding people who make you better?

  • Never stop talent spotting.  Even when I don’t have vacancies in a team I have been responsible for, I never stop looking for people who I would like to work with.
  • One Mentor is never enough.  Which areas of your life do you want to be better at?  Once you have identified these areas, find a Mentor for each one.

“I’ve got the attitude which I still have today that if I find someone that I really admire, someone that I think, I want to be you.  I want to do the things the way you do them.  I’ve always sort of been stupid enough or brave enough to go up to them and say, will you mentor me?” Rene Carayol – Businessman, Speaker, Author and Broadcaster

  • ‘Networking: it really is all about who you know’ my life has been enriched by the people I know and I have come to the conclusion that the success I have achieved in both my careers has often been due to the people I know.  My thoughts on networking.
  • Take the time to find out peoples gifts, qualities and interests they have.  I have found doing this, especially with Dosh Team members who have an abundance of talent and creativity, has made me a better person.
  • Seek out those people who have a stake in your company, they could be your ‘customers’ and or the people you support.  I talked about how Bettina has made me a better person in my blog the people I support have also made me a better person.  How they see the world and the hard work and determination to communicate their feelings is both humbling and inspiring.

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins, Good to Great

My 5 top tips on Talent Management

So you have found people who make you better.  How do you keep them close to you and involved in your life so you keep getting better because of them:

  1. Find out their aspirations and do your very best to help them achieve.
  2. Always put them before you.  (in my first career it was a sin if you went to the front of the queue for a meal – you eat last and sleep last)
  3. Go for democracy –   seek their advice, involve them in decision making, and then trust their judgements.
  4. Create a ‘culture’ (the way we do things around here) that people will want to be part and proud of.
  5. Part of that culture needs to recognise that failure and making mistakes can be positive and are there lessons to be learned from these.  You have a “no blame” culture and when you have that, it sets talented people free to be their most creative.

It happened

I found work that I was always meant to do and I got to do this for 10 years with Dosh.  From the 1st November (2019), I am moving to a new position within the Thera Group.  I will be their Head of Workforce Strategy and Engagement (the job title is still under negotiation as I type).  I feel fortunate to be given this opportunity as there is so much I want to achieve for people within my organisation.

As I handover to Meike our (excellent) new Lead Director and before I leave Dosh, I want to take the opportunity to thank the Dosh Board of Directors and each team member (past and present) for making me a better person.  I couldn’t do what I do without you!

November 1st, 2019

Posted In: News and Blogs

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Summer Newsletter 2019

Welcome to the Dosh Money Pack newsletter for Summer 2019!

This edition of the newsletter was put together by Grace Calvert, our Dosh Financial Assistant.

Download the full newsletter to read all our updates and tweet us @DoshTweets or contact us to tell us what you think.

This is a quarterly newsletter and the next one will be out in the summer. If you have ideas for future newsletter pieces, please get in touch!


This edition includes:


 Dosh logo

The Dosh team


Dosh News


Project 2000


Universal Credit update

WCAinfo and PIPinfo – benefits assessment websites

 cost icon - image of tag with picture of coins and paper notes

Supporting energy customers in vulnerable circumstances

 local authority

Council Tax guide


Support for Mortgage Interest Loan

PIP Benefits


Financial Advocacy in Action

August 22nd, 2019

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Dosh Summer Newsletter 2018

dosh logo

Welcome to the Dosh Money Pack newsletter for Summer 2018!

This edition of the newsletter was put together by Lia Herbert, our Dosh Financial Assistant and Meike Beckford, Dosh Financial Advocacy Manager.

Download the full newsletter to read all our updates and tweet us @DoshTweets or contact us to tell us what you think.

This is a quarterly newsletter and the next one will be out in the summer. If you have ideas for future newsletter pieces, please get in touch!


This edition includes:


 Dosh logo

The Dosh team


Dosh News


Help with PIP claims


Universal Credit update


New project launched: Your Money. Your Life.

 cost icon - image of tag with picture of coins and paper notes

Care charges explained


Dosh money awareness training


Financial Advocacy in Action


August 2nd, 2018

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Getting ready for Universal Credit

By Meike Beckford, Financial Advocacy Manager for Dosh

Universal Credit is replacing some of the main benefits you and people you support receive.  There are some things you need to be aware of now and some actions to take to ensure you and the people you support continue to get the right benefits. Ignoring this now could cost them £1,000s and cause everyone more work later.

This is a basic overview to give you key facts. It does not include all criteria for Universal Credit and you should not rely on it as benefits advice for any individual person. This gives you some key highlights to help plan how to support people with Universal Credit.



Key facts

Universal Credit replaces current means tested benefits:

  • Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA)
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – income-related
  • Housing Benefit (except for social housing)
  • Working and child tax credits

It does not affect:

  • DLA, PIP, or Attendance Allowance
  • Pension Credit or State Pension
  • Housing benefit for people in ‘specified accommodation’: getting support at home and renting from a Housing Association, charity or non-metropolitan borough council (if you’re not sure, check the exact criteria for exemption)


Moving to Universal Credit

New claims for these benefits are now on Universal Credit.

People who already get the ‘old’ benefits, will be moved to Universal Credit in the next years under ‘managed migration’ – this protects their income so they won’t lose out – they will get a top-up if their Universal Credit award is lower than their old benefits.

Some people may trigger a Universal Credit claim earlier, in which case it is treated as a new claim and they don’t get any income protection.



Who it will affect

Once the area you live in is a “full service area” all new claims will go through the online Universal Credit system – you can check your area here:

Some people are likely to be affected earlier:

  • People who do not have an ESA (or other means-tested benefit) claim yet (e.g. people in transitions)
  • People who move Local Authority areas to a private landlord
  • People joining or leaving a couple where one person claims UC
  • People found fit for work (although this can be appealed)


When you apply

The person getting benefits (claimant) or officially managing benefits for them (appointee, guardian or deputy) will need:

  • ID – photo ID for the claimant like a passport or driving licence is best, but other (non-photo) documents are accepted. The person may need to go to a job centre appointment and answer some questions about themselves.
  • Email address – the claimant or appointee will need to apply using an email address and check this regularly
  • Online access to make and manage the claim

The person will be asked to sign a claimant commitment, for example to search for work. Make sure this includes any reasonable adjustments they need and if they have been assessed to have “limited capability for work” or “work-related activity” under ESA make sure this is transferred to Universal Credit. If they lack capacity to sign this, no-one else can sign on their behalf.


What to do now

Think about the support a person will need:

  • Do they need support managing post or filling in forms so they can respond to any letters about moving to Universal Credit? Make sure letters will be picked up quickly and support given to respond.
  • Do they need support to learn IT skills, get online and get an email address if they are going to manage their own claim?
  • Do they have capacity to manage their benefits? If not, they need an appointee (or guardian/deputy). You can tell if they already have an appointee by checking benefit letters.

If someone is planning to move, check if this will trigger a Universal Credit claim. Think about if it is a private landlord and change of Local Authority area. Involve their appointee early on to check this.

If you will be supporting someone new, particularly through transitions, ask if they already have a claim for ESA (or similar)? If not, a new claim for Universal Credit may be needed.

Look at what ID they have. Try to find documents like birth certificates, tenancy agreements and any photo ID while you have time. If they have nothing, think about applying for a passport, driving licence or other photo ID if you can.

Get benefits advice before starting any Universal Credit claim. Once it’s started you can’t go back to the old benefits!



Where to get help

  • If you have a Dosh advocate, speak to them about when Universal Credit may affect the person you support.
  • Dosh Money Check – speak to the Dosh office about getting a benefits assessment from Dosh which will include checking for Universal Credit
  • Look online at or
  • Speak to local benefits advisors at the Local Authority or Citizens’ Advice Bureau.


Please note, while every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this factsheet, it does not constitute legal or benefits advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Neither Dosh Limited nor any other member of the Thera group of companies accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

May 31st, 2018

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Vote for Dosh to win funding for a new project!

We are really excited that Dosh has been shortlisted for the Natwest Skills and Opportunities fund! We have applied for funding to run a series of money and life skills workshops to young people with a learning disability.

Please vote for us to win in the ‘Midlands and East’ region!

Dosh believes that everyone should be able to use their money in the way they want, achieve their goals and live independent lives.

Moving to your own home, getting your first job, or planning the next stage of your life is an exciting and challenging time for any young person. ‘Your money, Your life’ will be a series of workshops across the Midlands and East of England to help young people with a learning disability become more confident with money.

Managing money can be complex and inaccessible, particularly when you have to deal with financial contracts, banks and the benefits system for the first time. These barriers can get in the way of young people with a learning disability developing the money skills and confidence they need to live independently.

Dosh workshops will make learning about money fun and friendly by using accessible tools and games to teach life skills like budgeting, saving and paying bills. Over the course of four workshops, each of the groups of young people will gain knowledge and confidence around money which will help them in their adult life.

Dosh wants people with a learning disability to have more control over their money so they can live happy, independent lives. We’re grateful to the Natwest fund for the opportunity to launch this new project and help young people with a learning disability at this key point of transition in their lives.

Group workshop

 But this can only happen if you vote for us, so please go to the Natwest Skills and Opportunities fund website and support us!


April 6th, 2018

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Dosh Newsletter Winter 2018

dosh logo

Welcome to the  Dosh Money Pack Newsletter for Winter 2018!

This edition of the newsletter was put together by Lia Herbert, our Dosh Financial Assistant.

Download the full newsletter to read all our updates and tweet us @DoshTweets or contact us to tell us what you think.

This is a quarterly newsletter and the next one will be out in the summer. If you have ideas for future newsletter pieces, please get in touch!


This edition includes:


 Dosh logo

The Dosh team


Dosh News


Care and support funding


Measuring the impact of Dosh


Dosh Business Plan


Becoming an appointee


Training from Dosh


Changes to benefit rates


Financial Advocacy in Action

March 19th, 2018

Posted In: News and Blogs, Uncategorized

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Dosh’s commitments for 2018-19


Dosh has been putting together our Business Plan for the next year: April 2018 to March 2019.

In our plan, we have written 6 commitments:

1.   We will show that people with a learning disability can lead our company
2.   We will make sure our systems and processes are ready to support more than 1000 people
3.   We will have a louder voice as financial advocates to make a difference for people through innovative research and ambitious projects
4.   We will develop new ways to support people with a learning disability aged 16-25 transitioning from child to adult services
5.   We will write a plan for Dosh from the point of view of people we support, building on the Dosh Promise to make sure we keep getting better at giving people the support they want
6.   We will keep growing steadily and make sure Dosh has long-term financial stability

We’re really excited about these commitments and our business plan and want to share them with you. We created a video that tells you all about them.


If you would like to talk to us about our plans, please get in touch.

February 16th, 2018

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Being an appointee – part 2

By Meike Beckford, Financial Advocacy Manager for Dosh


Here at Dosh, we’ve been thinking about what it means to be an appointee for someone’s benefits. In part 1, we talked about the basics of what you have to do as an appointee. Now, we are going to give you some tips, as well as some warnings, about how to avoid problems and be a successful appointee.





Check they are on the right benefits!

Don’t assume that the job centre or previous appointee has it all right. The benefits system is complicated and changes over time, as do the person’s circumstances, so what was right 5 years ago, may no longer be the best option. One of the most common changes we see missed is moving out of hospital or residential care – if the person moves into their own home, the family home or ‘supported living’, they can get more benefits than when they were in a care home. They won’t get these automatically though; you need to apply for them.

  • Care component of DLA or PIP. This is not paid if they are in a care home or hospital, so you need to tell the benefits centre when they move out so they can start payments for this.
  • Once you have this, you can then apply for the Severe Disability Premium on ESA. Speak to the benefits centre about applying for this as soon as they move (or ask for your application to be back-dated if they moved a while ago). There are lots of rules about who is eligible for this, so we can’t guarantee they’ll get it, but it’s definitely worth applying.
savings Report savings

If someone isn’t very active and likes a simple life at home, it’s easy for their savings levels creep up. DWP won’t always ask you to report their savings, so you need to keep an eye on them and report them when they go over £6,000 (for working age means-tested benefits) or £10,000 (for pension age means-tested benefits). The DWP usually finds out eventually and if they’ve been overpaying they will take the money back, so it’s best to stay up-to-date. It also avoids you getting a £50 civil penalty for not reporting.

post Respond to letters

For example requests for savings information or an invitation to apply for PIP. The person’s benefits will often get suspended if the DWP doesn’t get an answer and it is a lot harder to sort out afterwards.

appointee Check who is actually appointee

If you are the official appointee, you should receive the benefits letters directly and you should be able to contact the DWP without the person having to give you permission each time. If you are not sure if you are appointee (or someone else is), ask for a BF57 – this is the form that the DWP send when you become appointee. Making sure it is official makes it easier to manage the person’s benefits and makes it clear who is responsible for dealing with the claim.

Be confident about appealing decisions

With the volume of benefit applications and complicated rules the DWP deals with, it’s not surprising that mistakes and misunderstandings happen. If you’re not sure about the person’s benefit award, ask questions and get more information to make sure it is right. Speak to the benefits or job centre, look online, use a benefits calculator or get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Local Authority.

Car Use a Motability car effectively 

Motability cars are a way for people on the higher / enhanced mobility rate of DLA or PIP to lease a vehicle, with adaptations if they need them. They can be a great way to help people get out and about, but at a cost of £58 per week, it’s important to make sure they are right for that person. Think about how much they are using their car – if it’s only one journey a week to the supermarket, would a taxi be cheaper? Also make sure they are the ones using it and getting the benefit, as it is their benefit money that is paying for it.

Pay their fair share of joint costs

This can go either way, with some people paying nothing for fear of getting it wrong, and others paying for a whole group. Common sense should rule here – if they go for a group meal, they should pay for their share and if they are living in a shared house with family or friends they should contribute to bills and food they use. As a rule of thumb, what would you be happy someone doing with your money?

Acting on the person’s behalf

Dealing with other companies can be tricky, as appointees are only authorised by the DWP – it is not the same as Power of Attorney or Deputyship so you don’t have authority to manage their bank accounts, mortgage or tenancy agreements. That being said, you are responsible for spending the person’s money for them, for example to pay their bills. If you need to deal with a particular company, explain your role and ask to speak to their disability or vulnerable customer team who may have more experience in this area. If they require evidence, you can send your BF57 to show you are appointee and if you have problems, you may wish to speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau or other advice centre.


Appointeeship is a great way to ensure that people who can’t manage their own benefits still get the money they need to live their lives.

We hope these simple tips will help you stay on top of your role and be confident in managing their money.

If you would like further information, read our appointeeship factsheet, or contact us to discuss a Money Check (for individuals) or Consultancy (if you are an organisation acting as appointee).

January 18th, 2018

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Being an appointee

image of person getting money from purse

By Meike Beckford, Financial Advocacy Manager

Here at Dosh, we’ve been thinking about what it means to be an appointee for someone’s benefits. 100,000s of people across the UK have an appointee, many of whom are family members doing a great job for their relative without any training and only limited information. If you’re just starting on this journey, what do you need to do, know and have to be a successful appointee?


Firstly, what is an appointee?

An appointee is a person or organisation that is registered with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to manage a person’s benefits if they lack capacity to do this themselves.

Unlike a Power of Attorney, Guardian or Deputy, an appointee isn’t a legal authority over all of someone’s money; it just lets you manage their benefits. This can be great for people who only have benefits income as it’s much simpler and cheaper to set up and doesn’t take as much control away. It does come with its own challenges however; in particular when dealing with other companies to help them spend their benefits money and pay the person’s bills.


What does an appointee do?

Simply put, an appointee represents the person with the DWP. This means you do everything the benefit claimant would usually do, like filling out application forms, receiving benefit payments and reporting changes in circumstances. You are the one that receives benefit letters and is responsible for completing them. If that sounds scary, don’t panic just yet – there is plenty of help out there if you know where to look and we hope this article will help too.


Your main responsibilities are to:

  • Claim the right benefits – use benefits calculators, information on the website and other advice websites to check what benefits are available and how to apply
  • Manage the transition from DLA to PIP – if the person you’re acting for has not already moved to PIP, they could be asked to move soon. Once you get the ‘invite’ letter, you will need to make the phone call and complete the assessment form to ensure they move over successfully. Read our article on PIP for more on this. In the next few years, you may also need to move over to Universal Credit.
  • Report changes in circumstances – this is easy to forget about, but it is your job to proactively report changes. This means you can’t wait for the benefits centre to ask for their latest savings amount for example; if their savings have changed (over £6,000) you will probably need to report this. Other key things to report are changes of address, going into hospital and starting work. Reporting promptly means the person gets on the right benefits more quickly, you don’t have to pay money back later and you avoid a fine.
  • Receive benefit money – to help make things as transparent and clear as possible, set up a separate account (some banks offer specific appointee accounts) for the person’s benefit money. This helps you to clearly show how much money they have and how they are using their benefits. Keep an eye on this account to check payments are going in regularly as you expect and monitor the amount saved in the account. Go to our banking pages for more help.
  • Spend the benefits in the person’s best interests – this means considering their wishes and feelings and involving the people around them. Their benefits should be used to enable them to meet their needs and do the things they enjoy. Create a budget and make sure they can pay for essential costs like energy bills, rent and food. If they live in the family home, they can pay a contribution for their share of these costs. Keep receipts for big purchases especially, so you can evidence any big drops in savings

What else can you do as appointee? 

You may also manage the person’s Housing Benefit and Council Tax. To do this, you need to register separately with their Local Authority, but most will accept you if you can show you are already DWP appointee. Housing Benefit is often linked to other benefits like ESA and also requires you to report savings (over £16,000) so it’s useful to manage them together. If you’re managing Council Tax you can often get discounts for the person – such as the Severe Mental Impairment exemption that has been in the news recently.

CarIf the person has a Motability vehicle, you will also be responsible for this as the appointee. You must ensure this is used for the person’s benefit and is worthwhile – they are sacrificing nearly £60 per week of their DLA or PIP to have the vehicle.


So, that’s the basics. In part 2 we’ll talk about some of the most common questions we get and some of the pitfalls it is easy to fall into.


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January 8th, 2018

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Dosh Newsletter Autumn 2017

Dosh logo

Welcome to the Dosh Money Pack Newsletter for Autumn 2017!

This edition of the newsletter was put together by Lia Herbert, our new Dosh Financial Assistant.

Download the full newsletter to read all our updates and tweet us @DoshTweets or contact us to tell us what you think.

This is a quarterly newsletter and the next one will be out in the summer. If you have ideas for future newsletter pieces, please get in touch!

This edition includes:

 Dosh logo

The Dosh team


Dosh News


Dosh’s 10th anniversary


Annual review 2017: The Results!


Housing Benefit in supported housing


Changes to PIP criteria


Blue Badge Scheme – changes on eligibility under PIP


Financial Advocacy in Action

December 11th, 2017

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Dosh is 10 – love the job you are in

Steve Raw

Dosh is 10 years old today! The idea was born in 2007 that there was a different, better way to support people with their money. This focused on financial advocacy and putting people in control of their money and how this affects their lives. From this idea came Dosh. Since starting to support our first handful of people on 29th November 2007 we have grown to nearly 800 people today! We will be celebrating our 10th anniversary today and over the coming year – look out for a special anniversary newsletter in the new year, stories from people who joined Dosh in the early days and more celebrations. To start us off, our Managing Director for 8 of those 10 years has written about his passion for Dosh, some of his highlights and why he loves the work he does.




By Steve Raw, Managing Director for Dosh


Celebrating 10 years of financial advocacy for people with a learning disability

One of my mentors is my wife Joyce, we call her the Oracle.  Why?  Because she is always right. An example of one of her gems was back in 1996 when she said to me:  “Steve, you spend a long time at work so it is important you do something you love and enjoy” – that really focused me on deciding what I was going to do as I was being demobbed from the Army (my first career).

Fast forward to this week, on the train coming home from the Dosh Strategy Day in London, I had the best day, working with some incredibly talented, knowledgeable and experienced people on how we could support people with learning disabilities in the next 10 years, and I was buzzing.  I looked at my fellow commuters, I may be being unfair but they looked weary.   I detected the same weariness in the conversations they were having on their mobiles too.   For me though, this is a second career which has lasted 21 years so far and one that I am still incredibly passionate about.

For the last eight years I have had the good fortune of being the Managing Director for Dosh. I told Learning Disability Today magazine in their ‘Me and My job” series the following:

What would be your dream job?  “I am already doing it – I love what I do everyday”

What is your ambition?  “I reached my professional ambition when I became MD for Dosh”

So why do I love my job?  I enjoy being able to be involved in all aspects of our company and our support which includes:

  • Personally supporting a person with learning disabilities and supporting him with his Individual Budget; being part of his Circle of Support and being involved in all aspects of his life.
  • Building a winning team which is known for having a “can do” attitude and also seeking out and recruiting talented individuals to our company
  • Working with Support Providers (sixty at the last count!) and local authority care management teams – especially when I am asked to deliver a presentation (I love talking about Dosh)
  • Travelling – Yes I actually like doing all that driving across England, Scotland and Wales.  I get to see some amazing countryside
  • Project managing new opportunities.  We have just started a new project within Dosh as we gear up to support 1000 people looking at our current structure and  reviewing all our systems and processes.
  • Spending time with great colleagues.  Last Friday I was in the grounds of Bury St Edmunds Cathedral for a 1-1 with one of the team – what a way to finish the week!!
  • And the important part of being MD – Strategic Management.  Business Planning!  Thinking and planning our Strategic Direction which includes our growth, our marketing and the never ending challenge to do something completely different for our company and the people we support (at least once a month).

Doing stuff that you have a passion for helps you to maintain and have stronger mental health.  In your quieter moments, acknowledging that you are doing something that you are passionate about can give you a sense of well-being and contentment.

With passion comes a high level of enthusiasm for what you do.  I have found this to be contagious not only do your friends benefit, but also your family.

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.

Oprah Winfrey

Here my top 5 tips for finding your passion:

  1. What do you have strong emotions for – make them visual so write them down, better still draw a picture for each one
  2. You need to find something that has a ‘purpose’:  will it make a difference in another person’s life?
  3. Think about what you are good at, would it pay you a living too?  When you have both, not only do you find your passion you feel successful.
  4. What excites you: what would make you get out of bed earlier than you really need to?  I fling the bed sheets back at 5am every morning, yep even the weekends I can’t wait to start my day and find out what are up to.
  5. Dream big: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman

As a young 15 year old heading towards the Army Recruiting Office in Middlesbrough while my school mates headed in a different direction towards  their interviews for ICI Apprenticeships as Welders and Platers, I thought that if I didn’t love what I was going to do I wouldn’t be able to do it with much conviction or passion.  I felt the same way when I entered into the world of supporting people with learning disabilities.

There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.


See more about what Dosh has achieved and how we support people with:


November 29th, 2017

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Lynn’s story for #FinCap week

This is Part 3 of our series for Financial Capability Week. You can read Part One and Part Two to learn more about the work we are doing in this area.

Budgeting can be a really difficult subject for people with a learning disability, as numbers can seem really abstract. It takes a lot of mental steps to connect £10 on a piece of paper with a ten pound note with an understanding of what that can get you in a shop. Let alone thinking about ‘imaginary’ money on a bank card, what happens if you spend more than you have or how interest works!

For many people with a learning disability, the challenges of managing a budget are taken over by their support provider. Because money is an area where people could be very vulnerable to risk or abuse, many support teams safeguard people by having processes such as keeping their bank card and money in a safe, tracking their spending and receipts or only giving them a certain amount of money each day.

Whilst this ensures that people are kept safe, it stops them needing to learn, make mistakes or develop their independence around money.

Dosh has supported Lynn for a number of years and seen her develop her confidence and capability around money. In particular, we have encouraged her to build skills around decision making so that she feels in control of what is happening with her money.

We’ve done this by taking the different steps of making a decision – deciding you want something, looking at options, weighing up pros and cons – and breaking them down into more accessible steps. For example, when working out if something is affordable we use the Money Plan game. This is a really visual, accessible version of a budget where Lynn can move physical counters around a board and decide what she wants to prioritise.

In this way, making financial decisions doesn’t have to involve numbers. It also helps her think not only ‘do I have enough money’ but also ‘what decision will I not be able to make if I make this one?’ The Money Plan game has helped Lynn with everything from picking her weekly activities to deciding to save for a holiday.

Lynn’s support team have also worked with her to increase her independence with her bank card. She recently began to take responsibility for the card, keeping it safe in her room and taking it out with her. She uses the cash machine independently and buys things on her card so that she doesn’t have to worry about carrying large amounts of cash on her. This has also increased her independence as she isn’t relying on staff to ensure she has the correct change.

As Lynn’s story shows, there are lots of imaginative ways to use accessible communication techniques and pre-existing technology to increase people’s financial capability and independence. We don’t need to view budgeting in such a traditional way as only being based on numbers and spreadsheets. Financial capability can be about confidence, attitude, being supported to understand the steps involved in decision making, and many more things.

Rather than having a one-size-fits-all approach to the problems and solutions people with a learning disability face around money, we try to empower each person to set goals and find answers that work for them.

November 17th, 2017

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Ben’s story of financial capability

By Maddy Hubbard, Dosh Financial Advocate in the North West

Part two of our Financial Capability week series, you can read part one here.

Dosh has been supporting Ben for a few years, in which time he has massively built his financial capability. When I first met him, Ben was just getting by on his benefits and found money very difficult. Ben agrees “when I first got Dosh support it was really scary to have extra money in my account. I always thought I was going to spend it straight away.”

Since then, Ben has made huge changes in his life and how he feels about money. With help from the Prince’s Trust he found a job which he enjoyed, before leaving work this summer to start on a university course. He said “in regards to university it’s great – I love it. It’s great to get up every morning and do something I really enjoy.” In that time, he’s made big steps in his independence. “I still find it really tempting to have all my money in my account, but I think about what I can get from my money in the long term and that helps me resist.”

“Having support from Dosh helped be become more independent, because before that I needed my mum to control everything so I didn’t spend too much. I really liked that my Dosh advocate was closer to my age so she understood where I was coming from, but she was always professional with me. Knowing it was her supporting me with my money made it seem more personal as well, rather than a company you called up who put you on hold and transferred you through to someone.”

I asked Ben what his tips would be for someone who was in a similar position to him, struggling with money and too scared to be independent. His main tip was simply “get a job and don’t spend it all!”, but when we talked about it more he said that the biggest help had been learning to budget.

“A year of working and not going out has really paid off. I’ve seen people spend lots of money when they start work or get their student loan in. Most people spend hundreds a week on alcohol when they go out. But when people spend so much partying, they are missing out on bigger experiences. The benefits of working hard on budgeting are that this year I can do everything I wanted to do.”

Ben’s hard work has certainly paid off, he is running his own freelance photography business whilst at university and has booked a trip to spend a whole month in Australia. Having got the basics of budgeting sorted, he is dealing with keeping receipts, managing his savings, understanding exchange rates – really complicated areas of money he would have felt overwhelmed by a few years ago.

Dosh supports people with a learning disability who have a wide range in their level of capacity around money. Some, like Ben, are working towards full independence and not needing Dosh support at all any more. Others mark smaller milestones to build their independence, such as recognising different coins or remembering their PIN number.

Whatever the person’s goals, we strongly believe that financial capability is a core part of being able to live a happy, independent life. Tomorrow in part three of our Financial Capability week series, we will tell Lynn’s story of feeling more in control of her money.

November 16th, 2017

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Building financial capability – the Dosh way


By Meike Beckford, Financial Advocacy Manager

Originally posted at:

Dosh supports people with a learning disability to be more independent and have more control over their money. For us, this is all about building financial capability, so we wanted to write something for #Fincap week to talk about what we have found that works.

Support with money for people with a learning disability can often be an after-thought. Understandably, the priority in social care is to ensure that people are healthy, safe and cared for first. This can mean however, that money gets missed until it reaches crisis point – someone’s benefits are stopped, their money is misused, or they are in debt and struggling to pay bills. We wanted to change that with our approach to financial advocacy. For us, this means involving people as much as possible with their money and tailoring our support to them.

So how do we do this? Here are three things we’ve found that work:

1) Local financial advocates

Our advocates go and visit the people they support personally to provide individual support with money. This means they get to know the person and their circle of support, they know what the person likes and can build a connection with that person. This stops us making arbitrary decisions about what is right for someone and allows us to build their budget around them. I supported a lady called Jane who loved to go to the salon and get pampered. Rather than assigning a ‘standard’ amount for health and beauty spending, we looked at her budget together to enable her to prioritise this spending as she got so much enjoyment from it. This meant she was able to go every 2 weeks for a good pamper! That was achieved by getting to know Jane and her support team, listening to them and creating a budget to suit.

2) Money plan game

Let’s face it, budgets are boring. Whilst some of us may enjoy an Excel spreadsheet, most people find it not only boring but often complicated and confusing. This gets worse when you add in a learning disability, mental health problem, or just complicated finances. A few years ago, we thought we could do better, so we created the money plan game. This is a budget in pictures that you ‘play’ with counters. We use it with lots of groups including people with a learning disability, families, support teams and social workers and they all enjoy it! In groups, people can decide how to spend their ‘money’ and debate whether they’re going to put more money on the pub or the café, which bills are important and how much to save. It lets us talk about prioritising – “Did you start by paying your bills, or did you go straight to the fun stuff?” and clearly shows the relative cost of things – housing is often the biggest ‘tower’ of money and seeing it represented like that makes the cost clear.

When we work with individuals we also use it, by adapting to reflect their actual budget. We can then show them how much they are spending relatively and talk about what is important to them – “do you want to put this counter on going to the gym or going to the cinema?” or “most of your money is going on your bills so you don’t have any left for fun things – do you think you could do anything to save money on those?”. It’s also a great way to deal with changes in income – “you now have an extra £10, do you want to put it in your savings or spend it somewhere?”. This works well in empowering people to make decisions even if they have limited communication, or struggle to read numbers – you don’t have to be spreadsheet-literate, you can point, draw and move counters instead.

Financial Advocate Maddy working with person at workshop

3) Supported decision-making

We are supporting increasing numbers of people who have some financial capability, but struggle when things get more complicated and abstract – spending ‘invisible’ money like a direct debit, buying things on credit, or planning something with lots of costs like a holiday. We have developed a way to empower people to make more of their own decisions in these areas, rather than just deciding for them. We ask them a set of questions such as “what are the good and the bad things about this decision?” and “how much money will you have left when you buy this?” to help them think through the decision and its consequences. This enables them to work out what will work best for them now and helps people learn good skills and habits around financial capability to keep making good financial decisions in the future. This is often supported by conversations with their financial advocate to think about their options.

So, for us, building financial capability is all about a personalised approach that uses different communication and money tools to help people understand more about their situation and make informed decisions. This isn’t something that only works for people with a learning disability either, many people find money confusing and would benefit from finding easier ways to make decisions and plan their budget.

To find out more about Dosh’s approach, or to arrange your own money plan game workshop, please visit


November 15th, 2017

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Supporting disabled people into work

Although the majority of people with a learning disability want to work, only 20% of working age people with a mild or moderate learning disability and just 6% of people with a severe learning disability are in employment. Compared to 79% of the general population, this means a huge number of learning disabled people are being denied the opportunity to work.

The barriers that stop people from working can vary, but people with a learning disability often face issues such as:

  • Lack of self-confidence in their capability
  • Lack of opportunity to gain skills for employment
  • Negative attitudes or assumptions in the workplace
  • Lack of awareness of support available

The government is attempting to tackle employers’ attitudes and provide support through the Access to Work scheme. This can help employers make reasonable adjustments and support people in their job. But before they can make use of this, disabled people need to be given opportunities to learn skills, gain confidence and get the same opportunities as everyone else.

The story of Kate*, someone Dosh supports who recently started work, helps illustrate the many different types of support needed for someone with a learning disability to be able to work.

Kate found a job in a warehouse thanks to a scheme run by the Prince’s Trust. With their support, she was able to understand what employers were looking for, gain skills and meet companies who understood the value of disabled employees.

As well as the normal nerves everyone has before starting a new job, Kate had additional worries that she wouldn’t be able to cope with working full time or keep up with her co-workers. Kate was sure she would always fall behind, as she hadn’t see other people “like her” in the workplace.

Kate’s advocate helped her understand her right to ask for reasonable adjustments so that her work hours could be reduced to a manageable level. Dosh also helped Kate to learn new budgeting skills so that she could manage her wages and pay her bills. Finally, we helped her to apply for Working Tax Credit so that she was getting all the money she was entitled to.

However, Kate still felt like other people in her workplace judged her for needing this or felt like she was getting preferential treatment. It took a long time before she felt like they had got to know her as a person and saw her as an equal. However, eventually her colleagues recognised the hard work and persistence that made Kate a valuable employee and great co-worker.

Kate’s story shows that even when people with a learning disability manage to access work, they can still face additional barriers due to other people’s attitudes and assumptions. The challenge is therefore not only to give people the skills, confidence, opportunities and support they need, but also to change attitudes to disability more widely.

One programme attempting to do just this is Change100, a scheme run by Leonard Cheshire and Koreo (which also runs CharityWorks, a graduate leadership programme that Dosh partners with each year).

Change100 recognises the need to challenge the employment gap not only through opportunities for disabled people, but also through challenging our ideas about what disability is and what disabled people can do. Change100 does this through 3 month paid work experience placements with top employers such as Barclays, the BBC, Skanska and Lloyds, amongst others.

There are other organisations across the world doing interesting projects to address the disability employment gap that we could learn from. For example, the Danish company Specialisterne trains Autistic people to become high-value consultants for the tech industry. Instead of seeing autism as a barrier to finding work, they emphasise the value that come from including people who are not ‘neurotypical’ amongst the workforce.

In the UK, there are organisations such as Remploy and Mencap doing great work and campaigning in this area. Support providers have recognised for a long time that there is huge value to employing ‘experts by experience’ to design the best possible care and support. For example, 40% of Directors within the Thera Group have a learning disability.

However, we need to make sure that people with a learning disability aren’t just employed within the social care sector. Disabled people have a huge amount of value to offer any workplace and we need to fight for more and better jobs for people. Whether people start by volunteering at a local community centre or gaining confidence at a self-advocacy group, we need to make sure there are opportunities for people at every step of the way.

At Dosh, we hope to empower people to make the most of their life by having more independence and control over their money. This could mean helping someone understand how their benefits might change if they started work, or giving people opportunities to have a real say over how our support works.

We are currently recruiting for a (voluntary) Non-Executive Director with a learning disability for our Board, so if you or someone you know might be interested in taking on a new challenge then please get in touch to learn more.

October 12th, 2017

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Prepaid Funeral Plans – the pros and cons

From Maddy Hubbard, our Financial Advocate in the North West

Around 1.3 million people in the UK have bought prepaid funeral plans, based on the promise that they are fixing their funeral costs at today’s prices. Dosh supports many people who choose to buy funeral plans, so we wanted to do some more research into the pros and cons. Are people getting a good deal?

The positives of a funeral plan are that you can negotiate exactly the arrangements you want and pay for them now, protecting your loved ones from rising costs and ensuring that you get the funeral you choose. In the event of your death without a prepaid plan, it could take some time to arrange for money to be released to pay for funeral costs. Instead of having to deal with this hassle, your loved ones can contact a named Funeral Director who will already know your wishes and have arrangements in place.

That all sounds positive, so what are the cons? One consumer body recently investigated the sector and claimed that tens of thousands of people could be paying huge sums in agency fees and their families may be left out of pocket in the event of their death. Fairer Finance has argued for stronger regulation (see their report here), as some providers could go bust and leave people with no funeral at all. Also, lots of plans don’t cover certain types of costs such as council fees for grave digging, which can increase significantly over time and still leave large costs to be paid when you pass away.

Given these concerns, when buying a funeral plan you should look for a provider that is registered with the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA). That will give you more protection as providers which sign up have to agree to a Code of Conduct and you can report them if something goes wrong. Being part of the FPA doesn’t guarantee your money is safe, but if the provider fails then other members are part of an agreement to try and provide the service you have paid for.

Another question to ask is how much you are paying in agency fees, as you might find that a large proportion of some plans is going to middle men rather than towards paying for the funeral itself. Check that the plan includes all the things you want, including burial or cremation costs, a headstone or coffin, transport, Funeral Director fees and make sure you know which extras aren’t included and will still need to be paid for.

Finally, even if you are choosing a reputable provider you need to think if a funeral plan is the right thing for you. A funeral plan is a significant expense, often between £2,500 and £4,000, which you are choosing to pay now rather than have taken from your estate when you die. There may be other things you have to choose not to do in order to afford one, such as missing out on a holiday or on enjoying your money whilst you are alive. It’s important to remember that even if you die without enough money for a funeral, your loved ones can get a Funeral Payment from the state to cover basic funeral costs, so a funeral plan isn’t the only option.

Prepaid Funeral Plans can be a great choice which save people money and ensure that their wishes are followed, but before choosing one it’s important that you understand the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision. If you have more questions or want to explore if a funeral plan might be right for you then talk to your Financial Advocate.

September 28th, 2017

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Dosh Newsletter Summer 2017

We have published the Dosh money pack newsletter for Summer 2017!

This edition of the newsletter was put together by Katie Scott, Dosh Financial Assistant.

Download the full newsletter to read all our updates and tweet us @DoshTweets or contact us to tell us what you think.

This is a quarterly newsletter and the next one will be out in the summer. If you have ideas for future newsletter pieces, please get in touch!

This edition includes:

 Dosh logo

The Dosh team


Dosh News


How to deal with debt and avoid it in the future


Are you paying too much for your utility bills?


Leisure village opens in Ely – what can it do for us?


Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) tips


Do we need PAT testing in people’s homes?


The NHS Safeguarding app

Support provider

How we work with support providers


Financial Advocacy in Action

September 28th, 2017

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Dosh Newsletter Spring 2017

We have just published the Dosh money pack newsletter for Spring 2017!

This edition of the newsletter was put together by Katie Scott, Dosh Financial Assistant.

Download the full newsletter to read all our updates and tweet us @DoshTweets or contact us to tell us what you think.

This is a quarterly newsletter and the next one will be out in the summer. If you have ideas for future newsletter pieces, please get in touch!

This edition includes:

 Dosh logo

The Dosh team


Dosh News


Employing a PA: being an employer and automatic enrolment


The WaterSure scheme: have you applied?


Our award-winning Financial Advocate


Housing benefit eligible service charges


New benefit rates 2017-18


BT Basic


Financial Advocacy in Action

May 3rd, 2017

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Interview with award-winning advocate!

By Mike Kitcher, Financial Advocate for East Anglia

Our financial advocates work in partnership with over 60 different support providers across the country. One of our advocates in East Anglia, Mike, recently won an award from one of the support providers he works with – Thera East Anglia. The award recognised the great support he providers to local teams and individuals. Here we ask him a bit about the award and his work for Dosh.


What was your background before joining Dosh?

I was working for a support provider in East Anglia and also working with Norfolk County Council Housing Project with My Safe Home, assisting individuals with a learning disability to buy their own homes – 14 were eventually bought. Before that, l worked for Argyll and Bute Council working in the Mental Health team, Children’s Protection Unit and Community Service team.


What made you want to join Dosh?

I was working in a supported living house and the finances were not working out and money had gone missing from a supported person’s bank account.

I made a promise to myself that this would never happen again to anyone l supported

Quirky is fate because the very next week a part-time position was advertised from a company called Dosh. The rest is history.


How did you feel about winning an award for the support you provide in partnership with Thera East Anglia?

My first reaction was embarrassment of having to walk through an auditorium full of people clapping, with support managers giving me a standing ovation, and then go on stage to accept the award from the Chairman of the Board, the Managing Director and Service Quality Director, scary. Once the embarrassment had gone, l felt that the promise l had made earlier to myself had been kept, so I am feeling very proud.

Although the award has my name on it the award includes all the team in the Dosh office who do so much unrecognised by others that enables me to do what l do.


Tell us about a typical day as a financial advocate

Coffee, lots of coffee to start then into the filing system to check the post and plan any actions needed from the post, reply to any emails that have come in with either the answer or an appointment date. Then on the road, if a visit has been arranged. At this time I’m nearly overloaded with the new PIP forms needing completing in all parts of East Anglia. With Dosh annual reviews and money plans taking up a lot of the time at this time of the year, as well as visiting new people to support and new support companies, the time goes by quite quickly.


How do you see your role as a financial advocate? How do you advocate for people?

By applying simple rules. Making sure people have the right amount of money they are entitled too and to safeguard that money to make sure people can get the most out of life that is affordable to them. Would l, as an individual, accept what is being proposed to an individual with a learning disability? If not then l make sure l change it for the individual concerned.


What is the best bit about being a financial advocate?

Slightly odd answer first, it’s great to see the support teams being able to achieve what they want to achieve with individuals. This is brought about by making sure the funds are in place to achieve the hopes and ambitions of all.


What do you feel has been your biggest achievement with Dosh?

Oh that’s one for the people l support l think. But if pushed probably

making sure everyone l support has a good life with enough money to get the best out of life they can.


If you would like a financial advocate to support you or your team, have a look at our advocacy page or contact us directly. You can also read our blog on ‘what is advocacy?’ to learn more.

April 28th, 2017

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Benefit changes 2017-18

Will my benefits change this year? Most benefit amounts have stayed the same for a few years, but from April 2017 some of them will go up. Here is Dosh’s guide explaining the changes:



Why do benefit amounts change?

The amount that people get in benefits often goes up each year in April because of inflation. Inflation is a word for when prices go up so money is worth less. Inflation means that in 2017 you can buy less for your money than you could in 2016. For example, a 2% rate of inflation would mean that something costing £1 last year would cost £1.02 this year. If you want to learn more, you can watch an accessible video about why prices go up over time.

Inflation means that to be able to afford the same amount of things, the money you have coming in needs to go up by the same amount as other prices are going up each year.


Why did benefits not go up last year?

The government chooses how much is paid for different benefits. They decided that working age benefits were going to be frozen (stay the same amount) for 4 years from April 2016. This means that pensioners will get more money each year, but people who are younger than retirement age will get the same amount from April 2016 to April 2020.

The government has decided that some benefits will still go up each year while most people’s benefits stay the same. Disability benefits are some of the benefits which have been protected. These benefits are:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Disability premiums – the extra money you can get with some benefits for being sick or disabled
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Support Group component


How much will disability benefits change by?

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) are paid to anyone who is disabled. It doesn’t matter if you are in work or how much savings you have, you just need to meet the criteria and score enough points at assessment.

DLA and PIP will both go up by the same amount this year:

Old weekly amount New weekly amount
Low Rate Care

(DLA only)

£21.80 £22
Middle Rate Care (DLA)

Standard Daily Living (PIP)

£55.10 £55.65
High Rate Care (DLA)

Enhanced Daily Living (PIP)

£82.30 £83.10
Low Rate Mobility (DLA)

Standard Mobility (PIP)

£21.80 £22
High Rate Mobility (DLA)

Enhanced Mobility (PIP)

£57.45 £58


How much will income replacement benefits go up by?

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support (IS) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) are paid to people who are not working. ESA and IS are benefits that replace earnings for people who can’t work because they are ill or disabled. JSA is also a benefit replacing earnings for people who are not in work and some people claiming it are ill or disabled. These benefits will not change for most people. The main part of the benefit, called the Personal Allowance, has been frozen and will stay the same.

Some people who get these benefits and are ill or disabled get an extra payment on top of their personal allowance called a premium. To be entitled to a premium you need to be in the Support Group or be getting a certain level of DLA/PIP, along with other conditions. These are going up this year by this amount:

Old weekly amount New weekly amount
Enhanced Disability Premium


£15.75 £15.90
Severe Disability Premium


£61.85 £62.45
Support Group component


£36.20 £36.55

This means the most you can get in Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has gone up from £186.90 to £188 per week.


Are any benefits going down this year?

Most benefits are not going down. There have been some rule changes for the benefits cap which means that some people will get less money overall. But this does not apply to people who get disability benefits (PIP/DLA) or Carers Allowance. You can learn more about the Benefits Cap and find out if it applies to you on the DWP website and other advice sites such as Turn2Us.

There are also changes for people in the Work Related Activity Group for ESA if they have made a new application after 3rd April 2017. If you are already getting ESA in the Work Related Activity Group this should not affect you. You can learn more about the different ESA groups and the changes on the Citizens Advice website.

These changes will not affect everyone. If you think you will be affected then you should get more advice from Citizens Advice Bureau, your local Welfare Rights organisations, or from your Dosh advocate.


Where can I get help with my benefits?

If you have any more questions or are worried that you are not being paid the right amount, there are lots of websites which can help you. For example, Turn2Us, EntitledTo and Citizens Advice Bureau. You can find them and many more resources in the ‘Links’ page on our website.

If you support a family member with their money and benefits and would like to learn more, our ‘Factsheets for Family Carers’ cover topics such as ‘Benefits’ and ‘Where does the money come from?’ which could also help.

If you want to learn more about Dosh Appointeeship or Financial Advocacy, please get in touch to find out how we can support you.



March 28th, 2017

Posted In: News and Blogs

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Moving to PIP: our top 5 tips

Financial Advocate Maddy working with person at workshop

By Maddy Hubbard, Financial Advocate for the North West

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a new benefit for people with disabilities and long-term health conditions. Many people currently getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are being asked to move to PIP and have to do a new application. We know that it’s not easy making a PIP application if you don’t have support. DWP statistics show us that 40% of people moving to PIP got a higher award, but 48% got a reduced award or no award at all. The number of people being asked to move to PIP is also growing so lots more people will be affected by this change soon.

At Dosh, we have been learning from each other’s experience, knowledge and skills to make sure we make the best possible application for each person we support.

Here are our top five tips



1. Supporting evidence


The best thing you can do to strengthen your application is to send as much supporting evidence as possible. Even if a report is 9 years old, if it backs up what you’re saying then you should include it.

Types of evidence you could use are:

  • Medical – MAR sheets, a doctor’s or consultant’s report, annual health check reports, professional assessments such as SALT
  • Care – support plans, risk assessments (which are particularly good as they have to think of the worst case scenario)
  • Personal – diaries, statements from family and friends



2. The PIP2 form


Once you’ve made an application over the phone, you get sent a PIP form in the post to tell the DWP about your disability and how it affects you.

This form is really important! Anything you talk about in the form has to be considered by the Decision Maker – more than your supporting evidence or what you say at the medical.

That means that if you say you have difficulty walking, but don’t explain it any more on the form, the assessor can make a decision based on their observations of you. But if you talk about additional difficulties of walking in low light, dealing with kerbs and uneven surfaces, these factors all have to be considered.

99% of the people Dosh support have stayed at maximum or increased their award, with the average increase being around £2,600 per year.


3. Descriptors and points


The PIP form includes a list of questions about everything from reading to budgeting. Each question has a list of answers and points, ranging from 0 if you can do something without help to 12 if you can’t do any part of the activity because of your disability.

Before filling out the form, have this list in front of you. You can find it online in lots of places. A website we find helpful is

Go through each question and decide which criteria you are arguing for, and how many points you should score, before you start filling out the form.


disability4. Explaining your disability


The main thing to hold in mind when filling out the form is the “and how it affects you”. Everything you say has to be about something that happens in day-to-day life at least 50% of the time and must be linked to your disability.

You need to show that because of your disability, you can’t do something ‘reliably’. By this they mean (one or more of) safely, repeatedly, in a reasonable time and to an acceptable standard. Explanations of these criteria are also on

For example, if you had never been taught to cook and so wouldn’t feel confident making yourself a meal from fresh ingredients (question 1), you wouldn’t score any points. You need to show that the reason you can’t cook for yourself is because your disability means that you can’t do it ‘reliably’.


Story no text5. Tell a story!


But our most important bit of advice is this. Don’t just say you can’t do something, tell a story!

The person reading the form will be a ‘Health Care Professional’, but they could be a physiotherapist, paramedic, or someone else with no direct experience of your illness or disability. You need to make it as easy for them as possible to understand your situation and give you the right award.

Anecdotes illustrate the difficulty you have with something, adding weight to what you are saying. Alongside that, stories can be used to show the worst possible scenario if something went wrong or you didn’t have the help you need.


We hope that by sharing our knowledge and experiences, more people will understand how to make the best possible application and get the right award. If you would like any more help with your PIP application or other benefits, try our money check or appointeeship and advocacy support.

We wish you the best of luck!

March 3rd, 2017

Posted In: News and Blogs


Dosh Newsletter Winter 2017

We have just published the Dosh money pack newsletter for Winter 2017!

This edition of the newsletter was put together by Katie Scott, Dosh Financial Assistant.

Download the Dosh newsletter to read all our updates and tweet us @DoshTweets or contact us to tell us what you think.

This is a quarterly newsletter and the next one will be out in the spring. If you have ideas for future newsletter pieces, please get in touch!

This edition includes:

Dosh logo

The Dosh team


Dosh news

bank account

An update on Dosh transfer times


Moving to PIP: our 5 top tips


How many miles can I drive in my Motability car each year?


An introduction to short-term benefit advances


Annual review 2016 results


Working on benefits


Financial advocacy in action stories

February 7th, 2017

Posted In: News and Blogs, Uncategorized

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Annual review 2016 results

By Meike Beckford, Financial Advocacy Manager for Dosh

Between March and June 2016 we held an annual review. We asked the people we support and their families, support teams and care managers how we were doing. You can download the Dosh annual review 2016 results and read more about it here.

We were really pleased with the results overall. Almost everyone (97%) said they are happy with Dosh’s support. This includes people supported and circles of support.

“Since Jane has been [my brother] John’s* financial advocate there has been a huge weight off my mind. Jane is very supportive and explains things in a clear & concise way and supports staff to manage John’s money. Could not do without her!”

People said that we are meeting the Dosh Promise standards well, in particular keeping people’s money safe; people using their money to do the things they want and spending their money in the way they want.

People also said that we were good at being supportive, involving the people we support, getting to know them and being person-centred. This is a key part of what we do as financial advocates – we don’t just make sure the numbers add up (although we do do that!), we get to know the people behind the numbers and the lives they lead. This is why we co-created the Dosh Promise with the people we support. We support people to manage their money so that they can do what they want to do, achieve their goals and live happy lives.

From a social worker: “I believe that the support provided by Dosh reduces the risks of my client being financially exploited and also ensures that they are in receipt of their full benefit entitlement, whilst ensuring their savings are not detrimental to their benefits entitlement.”

There are of course also things we need to get better at and we’re always keen to improve the way we support people so this feedback is really important. Some people mentioned how quickly we process payments. In response to this, we have already got more people working on payments in our Dosh finance team and we have improved our standard payment times too.

We will also keep working with the people we support and their support teams to explain how we record decisions and make payments for bigger things. We use a best interest decision (BID) process with most people, if they can’t make the decision themselves. This protects the people we support and the people around them, but it can be a tricky process to get the hang of at the beginning. We are delivering more training sessions and workshops now to help people understand the BID process and help them get their BIDs cleared first time! If you’d like some training for your team, or want to know more about BIDs, please contact us.

Another team manager told us: “I am extremely happy with the service Laura* receives. Steph goes above and beyond, … [and] always ensures that she seeks Laura’s views and that Laura understands. She is person centred in her approach and Laura feels very comfortable with her.”

So, what’s next? We’re planning for our 2017 annual review now and thinking about how we can make our surveys and review process even more accessible. We want to hear from even more people and give them a chance to tell us what they think. We are also always thinking about how we can improve our support even more by improving our tools – for example our new financial profile that helps us get to know the people we support from the first visit.

If you would like to get involved in this or discuss your support from Dosh, please get in touch!

You can also download the results of the annual review 2016 here: Dosh annual review 2016 results


* Names of people we support have been changed.

January 25th, 2017

Posted In: News and Blogs

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Myth busting direct payments

By Sam Fiske, former Finance Assistant for Dosh

In social care today, there are so many more possibilities for those who receive support than ever before. Today, if you want to have more choice and control in how your support is arranged, you can ask to receive your personal budget from the local authority as a direct payment. Having a direct payment means that you can pick who you want to provide your support to help you achieve your goals. If you choose, you can even employ a personal assistant. This means that you can choose support that truly fits you as an individual, your preferences, and the things you want to achieve in life.

Some people like what they hear about direct payments and the impact it could have for them and their loved ones, but they are worried about handling such large amounts of money and they are unsure who can ask for a direct payment.

Self-directed support is new and changing, and while everyone is still learning, we at Dosh believe it is a great opportunity for people to lead independent lives as they wish. We thought we would try to address some of the worries that people have and myths that seem to stick around.

Myth #1 “If somebody cannot ask for a direct payment themselves, then they are not allowed to have one”

Some people think that because an individual may not be able to ask for a direct payment (because of their disability or mental capacity); this means that they are not able to have one. This is not the case; all it means is that there are some extra steps that need to be taken. Even if a person is not able to manage the funds in their personal budget themselves, they can still consent to receiving them as a direct payment.

Your local authority should give you every chance to give your consent, by giving you support to understand information and using different forms of communication.

Once your needs have been assessed, the social worker of your local authority should lead a best interest decision process. This means involving you as much as possible and asking your friends and family and other people who know you well, what support you want. If it is decided a direct payment is in your best interests, a suitable person can agree to manage the direct payment for you.

Myth #2 – “If somebody has very complex needs, they will not be able to have a direct payment

The level of support somebody needs does not make a difference to whether they can have a direct payment. If somebody has complex needs, and cannot communicate their preferences clearly, they can get support to choose and manage their budget.

A friend or family member can agree to become a suitable person, which means they handle the funds in a direct payment for you. This comes with responsibility, so it should be somebody you trust. If there is nobody you know that is willing and able to do this, then organisations like Dosh can act as the suitable person. We will agree with your local authority to manage the money, we will open a separate bank account especially for your direct payment, and we will pay the organisations who provide your support.

You can use a direct payment to buy any kind of support, including a support provider, or a team of personal assistants to meet your needs. We support people to manage a direct payment who have 24/7 support and high support needs and it works for them.

Myth #3 – “The amount of responsibility and paperwork involved in having a direct payment means it’s just not worth it”

Managing a direct payment does involve responsibility and paperwork, but this should not stop you or a loved one getting a direct payment – because there is lots of support available. If you would like a direct payment but not the workload that comes with, you may have a friend or family member who is able to do it for you. There are also organisations like Dosh who can support you to manage the direct payment. We can do this for family members who still want to be involved but do not want to manage the money itself. This might also be for you if do not want to or cannot manage the direct payment yourself but still want to choose your support.

Myth #4 – “Receiving a direct payment will have an impact on the benefits I receive”

The money you receive as a direct payment is not counted as income for any benefits you receive, and so it does not affect any of your benefits. It is not considered income because there are only some things you can use the money in your direct payment to pay for. You can only use it to pay for care and support services that meet needs as agreed in your plan. If benefits are your main income for day-to-day living, you have nothing to worry about – your benefits won’t be reduced or taken away because of a direct payment. You may have to pay some money towards your direct payment, but this happens with all types of budget and support and should be affordable.


If you want to learn more about getting support with direct payments and self-directed support have a look at our account management page. Still got some questions? Phone us on 0300 303 1288, or email [email protected]

January 4th, 2017

Posted In: News and Blogs

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What is Financial Advocacy?

By Maddy Hubbard, Financial Advocate for Greater Manchester and the North West

Dosh is unique in providing advocacy specifically around money, but many people don’t fully understand what a ‘Financial Advocate’ is or what we do day to day.

‘Advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society, are able to:

  • Have their voice heard on issues that are important to them
  • Defend and safeguard their rights
  • Have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives

‘Advocacy is the process of supporting and enabling people to:

  • Express their views and concerns
  • Access information and services
  • Defend and promote their rights and responsibilities
  • Explore choices and options’


At Dosh we focus our advocacy particularly around money, which is an area where people with a learning disability have in the past been given very little independence or control. We think that being able to use your money in the way you want is a key step to having control over the rest of your life.

As Financial Advocates, we support and enable people to:

tellExpress their views and concerns

A really important part of my role is getting to know the people I support and listening to what they want. I do this by visiting regularly and taking the time when we meet to find out what is important to the people I support. I really enjoy getting to know a new person, learning how they like to communicate and becoming part of the team making sure they have a good life.

For some people, having someone outside of their family and day-to-day support team who is there just for them can be really empowering. Others might not be able to communicate or take part in every aspect of a decision, but their Dosh advocate can make sure that everyone who is important to them is involved in making big decisions so that we get the best possible option.


informationAccess information and services

During my time at Dosh I’ve learnt a huge amount about the benefits system, as well as other areas around personal finances such as money saving schemes and grants. By just supporting people with a learning disability, we have really specialised knowledge which helps us to get people the best possible deal for them.

We are also very persistent, working hard to make sure that people get everything they are entitled to. For example, one person I supported stopped claiming ESA because they had got a job, but I believed that they were owed money for a premium they should have been receiving. After lots of phone calls the DWP gave them almost £3,000 on the closed claim, but I was sure they were still owed more. Eventually, I got them an extra £3,500 on the claim, going back to what they were owed from 2014, which they will use to go on holiday to Australia!


RightDefend and promote their rights and responsibilities

Finances are an area where people can become nervous, wanting to safeguard and protect someone rather than give them real independence. At Dosh we help people build skills around finances, including budgeting, so that they can have more control over their money.

Some of the people we support find it very difficult to connect their short term spending with long-term consequences, such as not paying their bills. We want to give people independence, but also make sure they are not at risk, so for these people we can transfer a small amount of money every day to their personal account.

This helps someone feel independent and can help them learn budgeting skills whilst still being sure that their rent will be paid and their savings will be kept safe.


choiceExplore choices and options

I have found that having a Financial Advocate gives the people I support the opportunity and the space to think about the things they want and plan for the future.

Dosh advocates are not just administrators managing someone’s benefits, we are a part of their circle of support and we want to help them to live a good life. Together with their family, support team and others who are important to them, we can work to identify and reach their goals.

I love working for Dosh, because as a Financial Advocate I am here to help people with a learning disability to live happy, independent lives. If you think that is something that you would like then talk to us about how we can support you.

November 29th, 2016

Posted In: News and Blogs

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I, Daniel Blake: a financial advocate’s perspective

I, Daniel Blake film poster

By Maddy Hubbard, Financial Advocate for Greater Manchester and the North West

I, Daniel Blake follows the story of a joiner from Newcastle who has to stop work due to a heart attack and encounters the benefit system for the first time.

The film follows Daniel through his “claimant journey” (to use DWP language) of applying for ESA, being told he is fit for work, and having to claim Jobseekers Allowance. In turns confused and frustrated by the system, Daniel is stuck between having to search for work to get his benefits whilst being told by his doctor he shouldn’t be working for the sake of his health.

The director, Ken Loach, is known for tackling contemporary social issues in a powerful, realist way, such as his 1966 film Cathy Come Home about homelessness. When it was released, it made many people change their mind about homelessness and led to the start of the charity Crisis.

I, Daniel Blake is another powerful film about our society, but this time Loach has focused on welfare and the benefits system. It has divided opinions, as some reviewers felt the film was unrealistic and made to make a political point, whilst others have argued that the film reflects many people’s experiences and that the government should change its policies.

Accepting an award for the film, Ken Loach said “film can bring us the world of the imagination. But it can also bring us the world that we live in. We must give a message of hope. We must say that another world is possible, and necessary.”

As a financial advocate who supports people with their benefits every day, I found some of the most heart-warming moments of the film to be when people took the time to really listen to Daniel and try to help him. These people included his doctor, one of the DWP work coaches and the benefits advisor who helped Daniel prepare his ESA appeal.

It is important for everyone to remember that they don’t have to go through the benefits system on their own. There are organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau that can help, free of charge, and plenty of advice websites including Turn2Us, Benefits & Work, and EntitledTo.

If, like Daniel, you are found fit for work and need to make an application for Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit, you should also bear in mind that like every other organisation the DWP is required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’. This could mean changes to how many hours you need to spend searching for jobs or other parts of your claimant commitment (the things you need to do to keeping getting your benefits).

Reasonable adjustments are a legal requirement to help people with a disability overcome the difficulties that are not faced by people who are not disabled. Reasonable adjustments can also be requested by other people, for example single parents who can’t look for work 8 hours per day as they need to pick their children up from school.

It is important to be honest and make sure that the Jobcentre knows about anything that will affect your ability to look for work. If you agree to a claimant commitment that you can’t meet then you will be sanctioned and your payments will be stopped.

This is where it can be really helpful to have an advocate in your corner. Someone who knows the system and can help you understand your rights and communicate your needs.

Many people would find it reassuring to have someone support them through their benefit claim, but for lots of people with a learning disability it is additionally important as many don’t have the capacity to understand what is needed to manage their benefits. This is where Dosh tries to help.

Dosh financial advocates support people using our considerable experience of disability benefits. We understand how benefits are changing and what the forms are really asking. We help people to complete benefit applications and ensure they are getting all the benefits they are entitled to, as well as challenging wrong decisions.

We can’t help everyone, but our mission is for people with a learning disability to have independence and control over their money. Getting the right benefits is a key part of enabling people with a learning disability to have a good life.

To reach out to more people, we share our experience and knowledge in other ways too. For example, we work with different groups and individuals to do research and create resources that can help people understand the benefits system. Our factsheets for family carers help families support their relative with their money and benefits.

We would love to work with more self-advocacy and family carer groups in the future, to provide talks about how benefits are changing or workshops to help people build their skills.

If you have an idea about how we can support you, please get in touch via our website or on twitter @DoshTweets.

November 7th, 2016

Posted In: News and Blogs, Uncategorized

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Going the extra mile

Supporting someone to get the Right to Reside

By Maddy Hubbard, Financial Advocate  for Greater Manchester and the North West

James* is a young man with a learning disability that Dosh supports in the South of England. Most of the people Dosh supports have lived in the UK for a long time and are allowed to claim benefits, but James is Spanish and came to live in England four years ago. James had been to school in England, his father was British and his whole life was now based here. Despite this, when we applied for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) we were told that he didn’t have ‘Right to Reside’ and so wasn’t entitled to the benefit.

Right to Reside’ is a legal term about whether someone has the right to be in England and claim income-related benefits. It is decided based on if someone has worked in the UK and got ‘Retained Worker Status’. As James is not able to work due to his learning disability, Dosh were told that he was therefore not entitled to the benefit. Without ESA, James had to live on just Housing Benefit and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which was making life very hard for him. James couldn’t afford to live a good life and was getting into debt.

Dosh worked with James’s social worker and his support team to challenge this decision. James’s Financial Advocate sent the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) lots of evidence about James’s learning disability. We explained that he wasn’t able to work, which was why we were applying for ESA, but proved that his father was British and that the UK was his home. The DWP responded saying that before they could look at information about his disability, James needed to pass the Right to Reside test so they couldn’t award him ESA.

James’s Financial Advocate then got in touch with their local Legal Centre and was given free advice by an Immigration Lawyer. The Lawyer explained how Dosh could appeal the decision and the evidence they would need to provide to the courts.  This was the first time Dosh had dealt with immigration law and it is very complicated. To put it simply, if James couldn’t get Retained Worker Status himself then we needed to prove that one of his parents was a European worker in the UK and had therefore passed it on to him. It wasn’t enough that his father was British, we had to show that he had lived and worked in Europe before coming back to the UK to work.

Dosh worked closely with James’s father to get the evidence together and make a case to the Department for Work and Pensions. We sent in the appeal and were expecting to have to go to a tribunal, but after only a week we got a letter from the DWP.

Eventually, almost a year after first applying, the DWP agreed that James should get ESA!

The decision means that James will get almost £10,000 as a backpayment of the benefit that he should have had this year and he will now have enough money to live on. His father said

“I can’t thank you enough for all the work and stress you have been through to achieve this. Apart from the fact cited in the letter, it was undoubtedly your incredible perseverance over the last year or so that has impressed the authorities.”

At Dosh, we will always go the extra mile for the people we support, even if it means teaching ourselves immigration law! If you would like support about this or anything else related to your money or benefits then please get in touch to find out how we can support you.

November 3rd, 2016

Posted In: News and Blogs

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Dosh Newsletter Autumn 2016

dosh logo

We have just published the Dosh money pack newsletter for Autumn 2016!

This edition of the newsletter was put together by Katie Scott, Dosh Financial Assistant.

Download the newsletter to read all our updates and tweet us @DoshTweets or contact us to tell us what you think.

This is a quarterly newsletter and the next one will be out in early 2017. If you have ideas for future newsletter pieces, please get in touch!


This edition includes:

Dosh logo

The Dosh team


Dosh News


Giving gifts on someone else’s behalf


Paying towards the cost of your care


Who should pay for Personal Protective Equipment?


Making a will


Warm Home Discount


Why are we scared of SDS?


Financial advocacy in action stories

November 2nd, 2016

Posted In: News and Blogs

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Why are we scared of SDS?

By Meike Beckford, Financial Advocacy Manager for Dosh 

A few weeks ago I attended a Highlands Brokerage Network meeting in Inverness and it got me thinking about self-directed support. We had a great discussion with lots of people from the Local Authority, care providers, advocacy organisations and housing providers with lots of positive ideas and input. We all saw the opportunity for SDS to put people in control of their own support and better enable them to achieve their goals and live the life they want. So why does it still feel so scary and difficult?

Self-directed support (SDS) is the umbrella term for types of care and support that are led and chosen by people themselves. It includes personal budgets, individual budgets, direct payments, Individual Service Funds (ISFs), personal health budgets and other types of budgets. That is of course part of the problem and we at Dosh spend a lot of time explaining all the terminology in our training and consultancy work. The amount of different legislation, from the 1998 direct payment regulations to the 2014 Care Act, also doesn’t help (although the 2013 Scottish SDS bill is a welcome piece of clarity). Ultimately though, I’m not sure this is the real issue, or at least not the biggest one. Much more, it’s our fear of the unknown and dislike of uncertainty.

At the brokerage network event, we were discussing what ‘brokerage’ is and had lots of different definitions. They included support to find services, managing SDS budgets, opportunities to transform support, creativity and community building, enablement… You may think that means we didn’t know what we were talking about, but I assure you we did! That is in fact the point – brokerage, and SDS more widely, is about all those things. In essence, it’s about values – empowerment, creativity and choice. People being able to live and lead their own lives with the support they need.

What I saw in the brokerage network discussion was these values coming through really strongly. In order to make SDS work we need to let these values and ideas flourish. We can get bogged down in working out the technicalities of how to commission services, fit with procurement regulations, or manage individual contracts. These are all things we need to think about, but without losing sight of the end and without losing all confidence in the idea.

If we focus on achieving flexible, personalised support for people, we can create the systems that enable that choice and encourage individuals and organisations to take up the opportunity it provides. After that, having different approaches and services around brokerage and SDS is surely a good thing, as long as we are clear what we are doing and people have choice in what services they want.

In our training to support professionals, we find a lot of people looking for the solution, the one answer that will make this whole SDS thing click into place. There’s a widespread feeling that everyone else knows more than us and has worked something out that we’ve clearly missed – there isn’t. There isn’t one magic answer and it isn’t without work, but if you’ve got the right values and aims then SDS can work. More importantly, it helps us all to provide people with the support they really want to live the life they choose.

Keep the principles in front and the rest will fall into place… and if you need a little support there are lots of people and organisations out there to provide advice, ideas and more formal support.

5 guiding principles for SDS

understand1. Be clear

If you are a support provider – what do you do? Ensure people can understand so they can make as many of their own choices as possible. This allows them to choose the right support for them in line with their goals and support needs.

choice2. Give people choice

The point is to give people choice so don’t regulate and restrict so much that you lose that.


unsure icon - image of a face looking concerned3. Be brave

New is scary, but it’s also not impossible


 Values4. Lead with your values

If you don’t lose sight of those, you’ll be going in the right direction.


In Print15. Focus on the individual

This is all about the individual achieving their goals with the right support, so talk to them and the people that know them. Think about what you do from their perspective.


We are always developing new projects, resources and support around SDS and we’d love to hear your ideas for what to do next. Get in touch to tell us how we can support you. You can also learn more about self-directed support in Scotland here:


Written by Meike Beckford, Financial Advocacy Manager for Dosh

October 20th, 2016

Posted In: News and Blogs

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Supporting people to make decisions – What I learnt from buying a car

A few weeks ago on a cold and wet winter’s morning I found myself stood on the side of the A1 next to my rather poorly car, having just broken down. As well as the immediate concerns about getting the breakdown service out, getting my car to the garage and getting to that day’s board meeting, I was also a bit worried about what the verdict would be for the car. Sure enough, having had the car towed to the garage I got the call later that day that it was terminal – I was going to have to buy a new car.

We at Dosh do lots of miles travelling around visiting people we support, delivering training and working with people across social care to promote best practice, so I needed some wheels back quickly! That weekend I went off to look at cars and came away with a new car, a much lighter purse and a lot of stress! This got me thinking about supporting people with decision making – if I were supporting someone in that situation in the future, what could I take from this experience?

We often support people and their circles of support to make financial decisions, whether it’s getting a car, going on holiday or planning weekly spending. At Dosh, we see lots of great work from support workers involving people in making their own decisions, but from our comfortable position of understanding these decisions we can often forget just how stressful this can be for people.

Why decisions can be difficult

  • Situations create pressure – even if what we are saying isn’t putting on pressure (the salesperson gave me the information and allowed me time to decide), the situation (a sales environment) can do that anyway. Time restrictions, the environment and the people present can all add to the pressure someone feels, even if it’s not intentional.
  • Time – sometimes, as with my car, we have to make decisions quickly, meaning we can feel rushed and unable to properly consider things. We are running on adrenaline which is great for quick reactions, but not so good for considering options.
  • Understanding and using information – stress makes you less able to take in information and weigh it up. The Mental Capacity Act tells us this is what we need to do to make a decision and yet this can be one of the first things to go if we are stressed and no longer ‘thinking straight’. When trying to choose between cars I found it really difficult to take in new information, weigh it up and decide on the best option.
  • Just wanting to get out – the dreaded upselling! Once you’ve said yes the stress doesn’t stop – you want to get out of that situation as soon as possible and saying ‘yes’ is often the quickest way to do that. This is certainly the case in social care with people used to submitting to professionals’ opinions rather than having time to form their own.
  • Stress reduces your ability and confidence to communicate well – this could include asking questions to help understanding, or expressing disagreement or hesitation. Communicating a decision is a key part of mental capacity, but stress can prevent clear communication.
  • Aiming for a decision – whilst this is inevitable to an extent, framing it in that way makes a definite ‘yes’ or ’no’ more likely than ‘not sure’ or ‘I need more time’. Decisions are easier if you narrow the choice, but that also reframes the decision and excludes wider options or alternative ways of thinking.

What we can do when supporting someone to make a decision

  • Understand someone’s signs of stress and stop the process if necessary. People communicate in many different ways – make sure that someone who knows them well is there to support them so they can understand any communication, whether verbal or through behaviour.
  • Be aware of the power in the room – if professionals are at a meeting and they traditionally make the decisions people may feel they need to agree with the ‘expert’. Some people will likely be seen as more knowledgeable or important, giving their views more weight and influence – people will want to say what is ‘right’ and agree with the expert.
  • Think about question phrasing – if it requires a simple yes/no answer (a closed question) or suggests a particular answer (“shall we…”) you may prejudice the answer.
  • Use time – as supporters we can force more time into the situation if we observe that someone’s ability to make decisions has reduced. Put in a break and remove the person from the situation for a while. As supporters, we can say stop where the person, due to stress or limited communication, may not feel able to (but don’t only use this if they are disagreeing with you!)
  • Be aware of your own opinions and biases when presenting information and options and explaining things to people. Involve different people and information so you are not unconsciously leading the person.
  • We still have to make decisions – it may be stressful but that doesn’t mean we should stop involving people, the more they are involved the more likely they are to be happy reaching decisions, whether they are choosing themselves, or we are choosing in their best interests.

Ultimately, decision-making is hard for all of us and we need support to manage it whether we have a learning disability or not. I did end up with a good car, but had I been less stressed I might have felt less forced into a decision I wasn’t sure about!

At Dosh we support people with decisions about significant spending, including through our best interest decision process. We also deliver training and consultancy on finance awareness and best interest decisions. If you’d like to talk to us about our support or training, contact Steve or Meike, email [email protected] or call 0300 303 1288.

For more information on the Mental Capacity Act try the SCIE MCA resources, read the NHS guide to mental capacity, and download the MCA Code of Practice.

Meike is the Financial Advocacy Manager for Dosh. You can follow her on twitter @MeikeB88.

September 22nd, 2016

Posted In: News and Blogs