Mr C made an application for a community care grant for a number of household items. He applied as he had been living in temporary accommodation after a period of homelessness and needed the items to set up a new home.
The council refused the application on the basis that as he was in full time work and they did not consider that he met the low income indicator within the eligibility stage of the decision making process. The council considered their decision again in response to his first tier review request but did not change it.
Mr C approached the SPSO to review the decision. We took into account his individual circumstances. He told us that he was working but struggling as he was paying full rent and council tax and had £200.00 coming off his salary as a wages arrestment. We considered his circumstances within the context of the SWF guidance. Section 7.16 states that a decision maker must be satisfied that the condition of being on a low income is met before proceeding with the application. Section 7.13 notes that if an applicant is applying for, in receipt of, or entitled to an income based benefit they are deemed to be on a low income. However if an applicant is working, they may still be assessed as being on a low income, and there are additional indicators to consider. One of these is a roughly equivalent level of income as someone who is receiving one of these benefits. After carrying out an assessment of his income and rent, council tax and debt expenses, we did not consider that his income was comparable to someone in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance or a similar benefit. Nor did we consider he had exceptional outgoings or that his circumstances met any of the remaining indicators (8.23 to 8.28 of SWF Guidance). We did not uphold the review request but signposted the applicant to money advice services for advice about the arrestment.