C, a charity worker, applied on A’s behalf to the council for a crisis grant in order to obtain food, gas and electricity for A’s family while they were waiting on their Universal Credit (UC) coming into payment.
The council assessed that A was eligible for a grant, but their award did not include A’s three children. The council explained that no award was made for the children as they were not included in A’s UC claim. At first tier review stage, C explained that the amount was insufficient for the family and noted that the council had been provided with evidence to confirm that A had three children and that their omission from the UC claim was currently under investigation. Although the council then changed their decision, the additional amount awarded was only for two children. The council advised that an award would not be payable for the third child as they were born after benefit changes came into force in April 2017 and were therefore subject to the benefit cap.
While we agreed with the council that A was eligible for a grant and met the qualifying conditions, we disagreed with the council’s assessment not to award for the youngest child. Section 7.25 of the SWF guidance offers a definition of a dependent child, and neither the SWF guidance nor the regulations state that children subject to the benefit cap cannot receive support from the fund. As such, we changed the council’s decision and awarded a further payment to cover A’s third child. We provided feedback to the council as we deemed that not assessing this application in line with the SWF guidance had caused unnecessary hardship to a vulnerable family.