C had applied to the council for a community care grant for a number of household items including flooring and white goods. C had moved into an unfurnished tenancy having spent the previous decade living with their elderly parents following the breakdown of C’s marriage. C had explained that they were living in overcrowded conditions, under exceptional pressure and with deteriorating health.
The council explained that C did not meet the qualifying criteria for a community care grant award as the move had been planned and that it was not unreasonable to have expected C to budget. C submitted a first tier review request, however, the council upheld their original decision not to make an award. It was noted that C’s previous accommodation had involved C having their own room, and therefore overcrowding did not apply.
We received the council's files and spoke with C for further information. C explained that they had lived in a small box room in their parent’s home, and that there were a number of significant arguments and disputes within the household. At times, C said that these became physical in nature, and that their mental and physical wellbeing had been adversely affected as a result. We noted that C had requested in their first tier review that the council contact their GP to discuss this further, however, this did not appear to have been done. We contacted C’s GP as part of the review. They confirmed the pressures faced by C and made reference to a family member’s dementia. They also confirmed the deterioration in C’s health.
Overall, we concluded that these pressures were significant and that the application met the qualifying criteria relating to facing exceptional pressure to maintain a settled home as per section 8.15 of the guidance. We assessed that living room and bedroom carpets, a sofa and a washing machine met the necessary high priority level and instructed the council to award these items. We provided feedback to the council regarding the statutory timescales having been missed at both stages of the decision-making process (recognising the role of the pandemic in this), and the use of a rule of thumb not in keeping with the SWF guidance relating to the need for applicants to plan and budget for a move.