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:
    January 2020
  • Subject:
    Overarching principle being used as the reason for decline
  • Outcome:
    Upheld

Mr C asked for an independent review of the council's decision. He explained that due to a dispute with his employer, he had not received any wages. He was in the process of taking this to a tribunal. Additionally, Mr C had not received a payment of his Universal Credit (UC). 

The council declined the application initially, as they assessed that it met medium priority and they were only making awards that met high priority. The council did not change their decision following Mr C’s first tier review, stating that he had received an award for similar circumstances in the past. They made reference to section 2.29 of the SWF guidance, which states that SWF is a budget limited scheme and is intended to meet occasional or short-term needs and not to provide an alternative source of regular income. 

We reviewed the council's case file and spoke with Mr C for further information. We disagreed with the council's assessment that the applicant was not eligible for a crisis grant. As he had only received two awards, how the crisis came about is not relevant in line with section 7.26 of the guidance. We also did not deem that section 2.29 of the guidance was a reason for refusal, as it is an overarching principle and not part of the decision-making process outlined in sections 5.4 to 5.12 of the guidance.  As such, we upheld Mr C's review request and made an award of £87.78. We provided feedback to the council that their decision to refuse the grant was not supported by the SWF guidance and that their decision letters did not contain sufficient information.
 

Updated: February 14, 2020