C asked for an independent review of the council’s decision. They had applied for a crisis grant as they struggled to budget their income due to increased living costs arising from COVID-19. As a result of this they had no money to cover immediate living costs.
The council declined the application on the basis that C’s circumstances did not meet the qualifying conditions for a grant. The council noted that spent income was not an emergency and that they had received an increased amount of benefit that month so should have budgeted accordingly. The council did not change their decision as a result of C’s first tier review request.
We reviewed the council’s case file and spoke with C for further information. We disagreed with the council’s assessment that C was not facing an emergency as defined by the guidance. While they had not budgeted their available income, section 7.26 of the guidance states that how the emergency came about is not relevant even if the applicant might be judged to have caused it or to have been able to avoid it. C provided us with bank statements showing that they had no money and outlined how their income had been spent. As such, we upheld C’s review request and instructed the council to make a payment of £102.08. We provided feedback to the council about their decision-making as we assessed that they had not fully considered C’s circumstances in line with the guidance.