C requested an independent review of the council's decision on their crisis grant application. C applied for living expenses as they received a nil payment of Universal Credit (UC) due to earnings. C explained that they were homeless and staying with relatives and had no money until their next UC payment.
The council requested that C provide proof of address as they were not listed on the council’s records at the address provided. C did not provide this information within the specified timescale so the council refused the application and referenced section 4.20 of the guidance. At first tier review, the council contacted the job centre to obtain information about C’s benefit payment and earnings. The first tier decision-maker deemed that there was conflicting information and so refused the application for this reason. Again 4.20 of the guidance was referenced in the decision letter.
We reviewed the council’s file and spoke with C who advised that they had been homeless for nearly 12 months and were staying with relatives. However, they had used the same address consistently for several months and this had been linked to their claim with the Department for Work and Pensions. In regards to the conflicting information regarding their earnings, the job centre had C’s monthly earnings however, the council had C’s weekly salary as this was the frequency it was paid. We were satisfied with the information provided by C and assessed on balance that they were a resident in the local authority area and without funds to cover their immediate living costs. We changed the council’s decision on the basis that they should have contacted C to address the conflicting information. We also gave the council feedback about the time given to C to respond to their information request (one hour). We did not consider this to be reasonable and also noted that the decision letters did not contain sufficient information for the applicant to understand the reasons for the decision.