C, a housing officer, asked for an independent review of the council’s decision on a community care grant application on behalf of A. A had just been granted a tenancy after a period of homelessness and was a refugee who spoke limited English.
The council awarded a number of items that they assessed as meeting high priority. However, they declined A’s application for a washing machine as they deemed that not having one would not prevent them from being able to maintain their tenancy.
We reviewed the council's file and spoke with C about A's circumstances. We disagreed with the council's assessment that a washing machine did not meet high priority. A had moved from temporary furnished accommodation where they had access to a washing machine. They were not able to use a laundrette as there was not one nearby, and because the language barrier presented an issue for A. We changed the council's decision and provided additional feedback about the length of time taken to issue the first tier decision, which fell outwith the timescales set out in the SWF guidance. We recognised that this was due to high demand for the service due to COVID-19. However, this still resulted in a detriment for A and the council offered no explanation or apology in their communication.