Ms C applied to the council for a community care grant for a number of household goods after securing a tenancy. Ms C had recently moved to Scotland with her young daughter after her partner died suddenly. She moved back to be near to her family for support.
The Council considered that Ms C met the eligibility criteria to be awarded a grant but assessed that she did not meet any of the qualifying criteria as set out in the Scottish Welfare Fund Guidance. They assessed that she did not fit the criterion of a family under exceptional pressure because she lived with her mother when they moved back to the area. They noted that the new property Ms C secured is in the same street and that Ms C would receive on-going support from her family. The council upheld their original decision following the applicant’s first tier review request.
Ms C asked SPSO for an Independent Review of the council’s decision. We considered the particular facts and circumstances of her application. This included information provided by Ms C and details of the decision making process provided by the council. We assessed that the council had incorrectly interpreted the available information when determining that she did not meet the qualifying criteria. We considered that Ms C was facing exceptional pressure (section 8.14-8.15 of the guidance), taking into account her unexpected bereavement, which required her to a relocate to another area. Furthermore, we noted that Ms C suffered from physical health conditions which were an additional pressure, and recognised that she and her daughter had experienced significant upheaval recently. We changed the council’s decision and awarded the items which met the necessary priority level. We also provided feedback around the council’s written communication.