Scottish Welfare Fund news - November 2023

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Last month we:

  • responded to 80 enquiries
  • made 62 decisions
    • 14 community care grants
    • 48 crisis grants
  • upheld 64% of community care grants and 15% of crisis grants
  • signposted an additional 152 applicants to other sources of assistance. 72% of these were calling us instead of their local council in error. Twelve applicants encountered accessibility issues contacting their local council as there was no freephone number in place or due to issues applying online
  • received 17 enquiries from local councils seeking advice.

Support and Intervention Policy

We raised one new issue under our Support and Intervention Policy. This concerned a council choosing not to award bedding when awarding a bed. We assessed that this was not in line with section 8.4 of the guidance. We also followed up on two previous issues concerning the guidance not being followed.

Stakeholder engagement

We welcomed over 30 contacts from councils and colleagues from Scottish Government to our local authority sounding board on 31 October 2023. We shared feedback on our findings and the trends we have observed, together with an update on our service improvements. Councils expressed an interest in decision letter templates and training being delivered by SPSO.

Case studies 

Repairs to private property

C asked for an independent review of the council's decision on their application for a community care grant. They had applied for assistance to repay debts, and to arrange a repair to the sink in the kitchen and a broken toilet flush.

The council initially refused the application as they said that the assistance was excluded due to being an on-going feature of expenditure. C requested a review of the decision. At first tier review, the council assessed that the application was excluded as repairs to private properties could not be provided by the fund.

We requested the council’s case file, and spoke with C for further information. They told us that they had recently broken their ankle and shattered one of their hips. They confirmed the scope of the repair amounted to fixing a leak and replacing a flush. We therefore assessed that this would not fall under the substantial repair to private property exclusion in annex A point 21 of the guidance. We instructed the council to make an award of £197.50 to cover the cost of the repair. We also provided feedback that they had incorrectly interpreted the guidance in relation to exclusions, and the applicant's circumstances. Feedback was also given about their written communication.

You can find more case studies in the searchable directory on our website.

Updated: November 22, 2023