Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Scottish Welfare Fund Independent Review

0800 014 7299

C asked for an independent review of the council’s decision.

  • Date:
    July 2020
  • Subject:
    Definition of an emergency
  • Outcome:
    Upheld

C asked for an independent review of the council’s decision.  C’s child had temporarily come to live with them following a disagreement with a family member, resulting in increased living costs.  C had also purchased a lawnmower and strimmer as they stated that the garden was unusable due to there being no grass cutting services as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. As a result of these factors combined, they had no funds for their living costs.

The council awarded C an amount for the child as they recognised that there would be additional costs associated with looking after them. However, they did not award an amount for C. C requested a first tier review of the decision but the council did not change their original decision.

We reviewed the council’s case file and liaised with C for further information. C provided us with some evidence of the items they had purchased. We disagreed with the council's decision only to award an amount for the child as this is not in line with section 7.24 of the guidance, and it did not meet the need. We also provided feedback about the decision letter containing confusing information and around the council’s assessment that the situation did not meet the definition of an emergency. This is because they deemed that C choosing to purchase gardening equipment precluded them from an award, however, in line with section 7.26 of the guidance, 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.  We instructed the council to make a further award of £127.14 to C, in addition to the £55 that had already been paid.

Updated: July 22, 2020