C asked for an independent review of the council's decision. They had applied for a community care grant for a number of household items as they had to move due to repair issues within their previous property and difficulties with neighbours. C advised that they suffered from mental health issues and had disengaged from services.
The council assessed that the application met the eligibility criteria and the qualifying criteria linked to ‘exceptional pressure’. They awarded the items that they assessed met high priority with the exception of curtain rails. They explained that the items would be provided by their furnishing supplier. C asked for a first tier review of the decision, stating that the goods that were awarded were not suitable and did not meet their needs due to sensory issues. They added that they did not want contractors attending their home without knowledge of who they were. The council did not change the decision and advised that the award would be fulfilled by their furnishing service; stating that the applicant had received a previous award for flooring via the furnishing service.
We reviewed the council's case file and contacted C and their GP for further information. C confirmed that they only wanted us to review the award for flooring. They explained that they had severe sensory issues and provided detailed descriptions of how this affected them. They explained that they had disengaged from services, and found it difficult to accept their health diagnosis. Their GP confirmed that C had not been seen for three years but that they were diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and mental health issues. They noted that they were not aware of C's sensory issues affecting touch, but that they were aware of their sensory issues affecting smell. They stated that this did not mean the touch issues were not valid as they had not seen them for three years.
We considered that the council were provided with information at first tier review that should have been considered and prompted further enquiries to be made. We changed the council’s decision based on the available evidence as we were satisfied that a cash award was appropriate in line with section 4.51 of the guidance. This states that any specific needs due to equality considerations should be factored into the fulfilment of awards. When considering how the award should be fulfilled, we asked the council if their furnishing supplier could provide a sample of the carpet but they said that they were unable to do this. They also said that they could not advise us of the cost that they would pay their supplier for the flooring. On this basis we advised that they should award the cost of affordable flooring plus fitting for all rooms. We also provided feedback to the council about their written communication.