C, a representative from a charity asked the SPSO to review the council's decision regarding their client (A)'s crisis grant application. C explained A had been joined by their family under a family reunion visa. A had a single Universal Credit (UC) claim in place at the time and this was not adequate to cover the costs of a family of four. As a result of this, A and their family had no money for food, gas or electricity and did not know when their UC payment would be updated to reflect them being part of a joint claim with children.
The council at initial decision making stage assessed that C was eligible for a grant, met the qualifying criteria and the necessary priority level. The council made an award of £115.84 for A and their family for a period of 4 days. They deemed that the duration of the crisis was this length due to A receiving their benefit as a single person. C submitted a first tier review request stating that this amount was not adequate for a family of four. However, the council did not make a further award.
C asked us for an independent review and we received the file from the council. We deemed that the council had not considered the family reunion guidance in relation to single benefit claims and award periods given A’s circumstances. We therefore made a further award as we assessed that A’s benefit claim would never be enough to support a family of four and was a solo element only. We made an award for 28 days for a couple and two children and deducted A’s single claim amount from the total award as A had already received this. We were able to award a further £389.64. This would allow the family time to rectify their benefit claims and cover their basic living costs. We provided feedback to the council on their written communication and that they had not followed the guidance.