Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Scottish Welfare Fund Independent Review

0800 014 7299

Date: 
July, 2019
Subject: 
Inconsistencies/ Reason to doubt
Outcome: 
Not upheld

Ms C, an EEA national, applied for a crisis grant for living expenses.  She stated that her partner, who had been the main earner in the household, had left months previously.  Ms C said that she had no money and was unable to work due to health problems but had been refused benefits due to having failed the habitual residency test.  In her first tier review, Ms C said that the reason for her crisis was because her ex-partner had taken money from her.

In their initial decision the council noted that Ms C had received the usual maximum of three awards in a 12 month period and that they had not identified any exceptional circumstances in this application that would make it eligible for an exceptional award. This decision was upheld at the first tier review stage. The council added that the application history suggests that Ms C may now be relying on the fund as an alternative source of regular income.

Ms C applied for an independent review of the council’s decision. We agreed that Ms C had received the usual maximum of three awards within a 12 month period.  Based on her initial account of events, we deemed that she would not be eligible for further assistance as the circumstances of her current application were similar to previous applications and therefore, not exceptional. However, we considered that had a theft taken place as stated in the first tier review request, this would potentially be an exceptional circumstance.

When assessing the case, we noted a number of inconsistences in Ms C’s account of this incident. These included the amount of money that was said to have been stolen varying significantly and Ms C’s account that the police refused to give an incident number. Overall, we did not have sufficient reliable information available to concluded that, on balance, Ms C was in crisis when she applied, and that we understood how this situation came about. We recorded feedback relating to the council not addressing the question of the alleged theft in their written communication.

Updated: August 13, 2019