C applied to us for an independent review of a community care grant application. They had applied for a large number of items including clothing, white goods and furniture. C had been released from prison around six months previously and had been living in a temporary furnished flat.
The council awarded C the items they considered to be high priority items and refused those deemed to be a low or medium priority, considering the applicant’s request for clothing to have been excluded. The applicant asked for a first tier review of the decision but the original decision was not changed.
We contacted the council in order to obtain their files and spoke with the applicant for further information. C advised that a family member had passed away in the applicant’s temporary furnished flat in distressing circumstances, followed by a police investigation. C abandoned the flat, leaving their clothing behind. We noted that the council appeared not to have taken this circumstance into consideration. We were able to verify the applicant’s account with the homelessness casework team. Based on this information we concluded that the request for clothing should not have been excluded and that an amount of £80.00 sufficient for two changes of low cost clothing met the necessary high priority level for an award.
We also discovered that the applicant had been awarded a bed and bedding, however, the bedding was limited to a duvet but made no provision for a cover or a pillow and pillow case. We determined that, in line with 8.4 of the guidance, bedding should be awarded where a bed is awarded (and the applicant does not already have the necessary bedding) and that this bedding should be one complete set, inclusive of a sheet, duvet cover and pillow case. We determined that this would balance the council’s budget with the applicant’s need (section 8.51 of the guidance) and was in line with the general principles of dignity and respect. We recorded material findings under the headings of “guidance not followed correctly” and incorrect interpretation of information. We also recorded a non-material finding relating to the council’s written communication.