Ms C applied had obtained a larger tenancy due to overcrowding issues. She applied for a community care grant in order to obtain numerous household items. The application included requests for specific flooring due to her two children’s allergies. Both children also suffered from significant learning difficulties.
The council initially awarded what were assessed to be high priority items – a cooker, fridge and bedroom carpets. The applicant’s request for lino rather than carpets was refused. The first tier review awarded lino rather than carpets (the applicant had rejected the initial award). The request for kitchen and bathroom flooring was refused, as was a washing machine, on the basis of conflicting information. The council had not been able to make contact with the applicant to confirm various details.
Ms C applied to SPSO for an independent review. We considered the council’s case file and also spoke with the applicant. We assessed that the washing machine and flooring for the bathroom and kitchen met the necessary high priority level. In arriving at this assessment, we placed emphasis on Ms C’s children’s health conditions and the condition of the flooring. This was supported by photographic evidence. We also noted that Ms C had borrowed money from a family member to purchase her own bedroom flooring after the initial refusal. She was repaying this debt from her children’s DLA which we considered had caused detriment. As such, we instructed the council to make a cash award equivalent to the cost of the flooring had they awarded it via their own suppliers in line with section 9.6 of the guidance. We noted the significant further enquiries that were required to make our assessment and recorded a finding of “new information received”. We also providing feedback regarding how the council handle similar issues in the future, and regarding their written communication.