Miss C applied for a crisis grant for living expenses after spending her Universal Credit (UC) payment repaying money she had borrowed from a friend. She explained that she had been living in a Women's Aid Refuge for a number of months with her young son but had been offered her own tenancy. In order to secure the property she had to pay one month’s rent in advance, which she had borrowed.
The Council refused Miss C’s application as she had received five crisis awards in a 12 month rolling period and they did not deem her circumstances to be exceptional. Following her first tier review request, the council upheld their decision and did not make an award. They noted that she had applied to the fund on a number of occasions for 'spent income' in the past.
Miss C asked us for an Independent Review of the council's decision. We considered the facts and circumstances of the application and also spoke with Miss C and her Housing Officer. We noted that Miss C’s previous two applications were when she was living in a refuge and during this period her living costs were high. The remaining three were due to issues with changing benefits, a lost purse and moving costs. We took into account that she was a victim of domestic abuse, and had been assisted by social work to secure her own tenancy. We also observed that Miss C had taken steps to avoid the crisis by enquiring if it was possible to pay the deposit in instalments, although this was not an option. As we assessed that this application was different from her historic applications and was exceptional by nature (covered in section 7.23 of the guidance), we assessed that the council had incorrectly interpreted the available information and changed their decision. We instructed them to award £382.85 and also provided feedback about the quality of the council’s written communication.