Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Scottish Welfare Fund Independent Review

0800 014 7299

C requested an independent review of the council's decision on their crisis grant application.

  • Date:
    June 2020
  • Subject:
    Exceptional circumstances for crisis grants
  • Outcome:
    Upheld

C requested an independent review of the council's decision on their crisis grant application. They applied for assistance with living expenses as they had purchased a washing machine, leaving them with no funds for utilities or food. 

The council declined the application initially on the basis that C had already received five awards in the last 12-month rolling period. At first tier the decision maker refused the application as they did not believe that the crisis had occurred in the way that the applicant had stated.

We reviewed the council’s file and spoke with C for further information. C provided us with bank statements to verify that their income had been spent and provided all requested information. We took into account that C is a single parent with young children and suffers from mental ill health. Being without a washing machine was causing pressure to the family and normal alternatives, such as launderettes or using a friend’s washing machine, were limited due to the lockdown period. Overall, we assessed that the Covid-19 pandemic had contributed to C's crisis situation and that the circumstances were exceptional. We therefore changed the council's decision and made a sixth award as we disagreed with their interpretation of the available information. We also noted that the council have not followed the guidance when assessing this application as it showed no assessment of the three in 12 rule being suspended. We provided feedback to the council about their handling of the application. We also highlighted that no decision letters had been issued to C. While we acknowledge that the Scottish Government has written to councils to advise that the requirement to issue decision letters is currently relaxed, we deem that it is important that applicants have a record of their decision and that they have been advised of their review rights.

Updated: June 17, 2020