Ms C applied for a crisis grant in order to obtain money for food and living expenses. Her Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claim had been stopped due to the applicant missing a Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The applicant had submitted a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) and had no available income pending the outcome of this appeal.
The council considered that the application met the necessary conditions for an award, which was calculated to cover a 14 day duration. The applicant submitted a first tier review 10 days later on the basis that her ESA was still not reinstated and that she was still in a position of crisis. The first tier review considered the amount already awarded to have been fair and reasonable and no further award was made.
Miss C asked SPSO for an independent review. We assessed that the amount awarded did not take into account that the she had £5.00 of debt taken from each of her utility meters each week. The original decision maker did not appear to have had regard to this possibility when calculating the award and the first tier review described the award made as the 'maximum'. The guidance states that local authorities should explore any additional circumstances that should be taken into account when calculating the award (7.24 of SWF guidance). Examples may include special dietary requirements and debts on pre-payment meters. We therefore awarded the applicant an additional £20.00 for a 14 day award. We assessed that the guidance was not followed correctly in respect of ensuring that the award met the need, and additional feedback was provided relating to the council's written communication.