Mr C applied for a crisis grant for living expenses after his employer terminated his employment while he was signed unfit to work, and awaiting the first payment benefit.
The council refused his application on the basis they considered that he was not in a crisis due to any emergency or disaster, and had been responsible for his crisis by choosing to spend his income. In addition they assessed that he had access to alternative income by returning gifts he had bought for his daughter. The council's case notes also showed that there were inconsistencies in the information the applicant had provided during the application and review process. They upheld their decision at first tier.
Mr C asked the SPSO to review the council's decision. We received the council's file and spoke with the applicant. He explained that he was very unhappy about being told to return Christmas gifts, but acknowledged he had not provided the council with a clear account of how he had spent his last income, and was unable to provide this to us, as he also had spent money on items for his house, clothing and gambling. We assessed that in line with s7.23 of the guidance, how an applicant came to be in crisis is not relevant even if the applicant could be considered to have contributed to the crisis. However, given there was no clear evidence that the applicant was in crisis, we did not change the council's decision (s4.20 of SWF Guidance). We provided feedback to the council that their reason for refusal was not supported by the guidance and their letters were not personalised.