C applied for a Self-Isolation Support Grant via the Scottish Welfare Fund at their local council. The applicant was self-employed and had recently been asked to self-isolate, preventing them from working as a taxi driver for a fortnight.
The council initially refused the application on the basis of C not appearing to have an eligible benefit in payment. C requested a first tier review, in which they explained that they have a joint Tax Credits claim with their partner, in their partner’s name. The council upheld their initial decision, explaining that the claim must be in the applicant’s own name.
C submitted an independent review request. We requested the council's files and spoke with the applicant for additional information. We obtained confirmation in the form of a statement of award from HMRC, confirming the joint claim. We considered that the draft guidance currently in place does not specifically mention joint claims, or state definitively that the benefits claim must be in an applicant’s name. We determined that to be included on a joint claim, involves being means tested, and that the award is made for the household. On this basis, we assessed that the applicant was eligible for an award and instructed the council to provide the applicant with a £500 grant. We provided feedback to the council regarding what we considered to be an overly rigid interpretation of the guidance, which was not consistent with the overall aims of the scheme, or with the approach applied to other benefits. However, we also acknowledged that this is a new scheme, and that the guidance in its present form is in draft and has not been finalised.