Case study

  • Date:
    May 2024
  • Category:
    When two crisis grant applications should have been treated as one


C, a welfare rights officer for the applicant (A), asked for an independent review of the council’s decision on their crisis grant application. A had applied for assistance stating that they had a benefits sanction applied and had not received any income. 

The council refused the application on the basis that A had received the maximum assistance normally available, and they did not assess the circumstances of the current application met the exceptional circumstances criteria set out in 7.21 to 7.23 of the guidance. 

We reviewed the council’s file and contacted C for additional information. C explained that the sanction had been applied for missing an appointment with the job coach, and they were in the process of appealing that decision. They also noted that A should have been receiving a health element in their benefits, but this had not been applied, so A was experiencing a shortfall in their income. 

We concluded that the council’s decision to refuse the application was correct, and agreed that C’s circumstances were not exceptional compared with previous applications. This was because C had previously applied for a crisis grant due to benefit sanctions. We did not uphold the review request and did not identify any feedback for the council. 

C subsequently requested a reconsideration of the decision, stating that two of A's previous awards should have been treated as one period of crisis in line with section 7.23 of the guidance. We agreed with this viewpoint, after reviewing the application history, and contacting the Department for Work and Pensions for further information. We changed our original decision based on this new information and instructed the council to make an award.

Updated: May 21, 2024