C requested an independent review of the council's decision on their crisis grant application. They applied for money for food, gas and electricity as they explained that they had been without a working cooker for almost a month and this meant that their food costs were increased.
The council declined the application initially on the basis that C had already received three awards in the last 12-month rolling period and one of these was due to an issue with C’s fridge freezer, which they considered was similar to this application. At first tier review C provided further information, however, the council did not change their decision on the basis that they had received three awards in 12 months. We reviewed the council’s file and contacted C by phone for further information.
We took into consideration that the Scottish Government has provided some advice to local authorities about exceptional circumstances during the COVID-19 period. C explained that the cooker was not under warranty and they were not in position to afford for it be repaired or to buy a new one. C was able to ask a friend, who was an electrician, to repair the cooker. However, due to reasons linked to the pandemic, they were delayed in being able to assist C with the repair. We noted that C had received three awards in the past 12 months but overall, assessed that this application was exceptional compared to previous applications. We also did not consider that C could be considered at fault for the situation occurring. Therefore, we changed the council's decision and made a fourth award under exceptional circumstances. We recorded a finding of ‘inquisitorial failure’ as we did not consider that the council made sufficient enquiries with the applicant.