Case study

  • Date:
    July 2023
  • Category:
    Dignity and respect


C asked the SPSO for an independent review of the council's decision of their application for a community care grant. They had applied for assistance because they had moved property and needed items for their new home.

The council declined the initial application because they assessed that the move was planned, and that the conditions were not met as a result. C requested a first-tier review but the council did not change their original decision.

We requested the council's case file and spoke with C for further information. We also contacted the disability aid centre C had been liaising with. We determined that the council failed to make appropriate enquiries to follow up information C had presented on their application form and at first tier review stage. In line with section 4.20 of the SWF guidance, decision makers should seek to gather necessary relevant information to fill any gaps in evidence, giving the applicant an opportunity to make their case and respond to any apparent conflict in evidence . We were also critical that the council made a number of judgements in their notes and decision letters about why the applicant should have budgeted for items, should not have moved home and about previously having rent arrears. They also made a number of assumptions around their previous situation including, questioning whether they were previously 'genuinely unable to work'. We considered that many of these judgements were both unnecessary and unhelpful, and did not take into account the pressures and vulnerabilities faced by the applicant. We deemed that in line with section 1.4, local authorities must ensure applicants are treated with respect and their dignity is preserved. We changed the council’s decision and instructed them to award the items that met the necessary priority level.

Updated: July 19, 2023