C, an advice worker, asked for an independent review of the council's decision on behalf of their client (A). C had applied for a community care grant for numerous items as A was elderly, lived alone, had numerous serious issues with their health and required daily support from their family with basic tasks.
From the information available, it appeared that the council declined the initial application on the basis of none of the items meeting the necessary priority level (high). The advice agency then requested a first tier review on behalf of A. The council awarded a single bed base and a single orthopaedic mattress as they determined that these items met high priority.
We then reviewed the council's case file and contacted them for further information. We disagreed with the council's decision that a gas cooker did not meet high priority. Due to the information provided in the application about the nature of A's health conditions, we assessed that the council should have made more robust enquiries with A as to the effect that only having a partially functioning cooker had on them. We were able to establish from our further enquiries with C that A's circumstances meant that a fully functioning cooker was a high priority item. We changed the council's decision and instructed them to award a gas cooker. We provided feedback about insufficient enquires being made at first tier review; their decision letters containing confusing information about the decision-making process; their failure to signpost at first tier review, despite stating that such information was included; a lack of clarity in the decision-making notes regarding several stages of the process, and a delay in the handling of the application at first tier review stage.