Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Scottish Welfare Fund Independent Review

0800 014 7299

Mr C asked for an independent review of the council’s decision.

  • Date:
    May 2020
  • Subject:
    Administration of applications
  • Outcome:
    Upheld

Mr C asked for an independent review of the council’s decision. He had applied for a community care grant as he had experienced a relationship breakdown and left the family home. Mr C had been sofa surfing before securing a private tenancy and had applied for a number of household items.

The council assessed that the application met the eligibility criteria, but stated it did not meet any of the qualifying conditions and so did not make an award. Mr C requested a first tier review of the decision, however, the council did not change their original decision.

We reviewed the council’s case file and spoke with Mr C for further information. He explained that he had separated from his wife and was sofa surfing and sleeping in a van. He noted that he suffers from mental ill health and previous substance misuse issues, and that due to the waiting period for a secure tenancy, had obtained a private let. He explained that he has a formal arrangement for seeing his child and that the lack of household items was impacting these visits. We considered the facts and circumstances of the case and changed the council’s decision as we deemed that the council had not interpreted the available information incorrectly, and that the application met the qualifying criteria regarding exceptional pressure. We did not award all of the items, just those that we deemed to meet high priority. We provided the council with feedback about their decision making regarding their recording of their decision making notes, which were not robust or in line with the guidance. Additionally, no decision letters were issued and while emails were sent, they did not contain sufficient information. We also noted that Mr C had applied for both a crisis grant and a community care grant and that the council considered them in one application but should have treated them separately in line with section 5.1 of the guidance.

Updated: May 20, 2020