C asked the SPSO to review the council’s decision to refuse their application for a community care grant. C had recently been decanted from their property following a serious flood. Due to an error in communication between the housing association and removal company, all of their belongings were removed from the property and disposed of, instead of only the damaged goods. They were due to move back home after six months in temporary accommodation, and needed a number of items to help them settle back into their home.
The council refused the application on the basis that they established C had been offered a compensation payment by the housing association and therefore could not be considered on a low income and did not meet the qualifying criteria. C asked the council to reconsider their decision but the council upheld their original decision stating that C had access to alternative assistance.
We received the council’s file and spoke to C for further information. C told us they had refused the offer from the housing association as it was too low, and they were waiting for a revised offer. They did not know when they would receive one but needed these items so they could move home. We verified that C had not accepted an offer and assessed that the council were incorrect to assess C was not on a low income. We were also critical of the council assessing that C had access to alternative support when the guidance noted under section 8.32 that only money in hand can be considered when assessing access to capital. We assessed that C's application met the relevant eligibility and qualifying criteria. We were satisfied that the request for a cooker, fridge freezer and washing machine all met the relevant priority level. We instructed the council to make an award and provided the council with feedback about the incorrect application of the decision making process, and incorrect assessment of low income and access to capital.