Ms C applied for a crisis grant having lost her purse while shopping. The applicant requested money for food, gas, electricity, petrol costs, help with a debt and her TV licence.
The council refused to make an award. They assessed that the applicant could not be said to be without fault. Additionally, they noted a previous award for money having been stolen two months prior to this one, and assessed that on balance the information provided in this application was unlikely to be true. This decision and reasoning was upheld at first tier review.
We disagreed with the council. Firstly, we noted that an assessment of fault does not form part of the decision making process until an applicant has received three awards in a 12-month period. We recognised that the council are required to check previous applications, and that the two awards had some similarities that would merit further consideration. However, we assessed that there were significant differences between the two applications, and could find no inconsistencies in the applicant's version of events. Taking into account the difficulties verifying situations of lost money, we did not consider it was reasonable to conclude that on balance (s4.20 of SWF Guidance) it was more likely the information provided was untrue. We noted that rent, debts, travel expenses and ongoing bills are excluded, and awarded the applicant £200.00 for essentials until her next benefit payment in 14 days. We changed the decision on the basis of 'incorrect interpretation of information' and provided feedback on the council's written communication. The applicant was given loss prevention advice.