Case study

  • Date:
    July 2023
  • Category:
    Failure to make reasonable adjustments


C, a welfare rights officer for the applicant (A), asked the SPSO to review the council's decision not to award a community care grant for replacement flooring, and an orthopaedic mattress. A had applied for assistance stating that they had mobility issues and the existing flooring in their property was causing trip hazards.

The council had assessed that A's application did not meet any of the qualifying criteria for an award. In particular they noted there was an expectation within the guidance that an applicant would budget to replace old or worn items.

We received the council’s case file and gathered information from A, A’s social worker and A’s GP. We took into account that A had significant disabilities following a car accident, together with additional pressures including a language barrier. We disagreed with the council that none of the qualifying criteria were met as assessed that A was facing exceptional pressure to maintain a settled home. We determined that new carpets met high priority and should be awarded due to the condition of the existing carpets and the corresponding risk to A’s wellbeing. We did not award an orthopaedic mattress as A’s GP did not support the award of this item. We provided feedback about incorrectly interpreting A's circumstances, as well as assessing that the guidance prevented an award being made for wear and tear.

A few weeks after making the award, we were contacted by C to let us know that the order had been cancelled as the supplier had been unable to fit the flooring. They had been advised that this was because A had not moved furniture ahead of the carpet fitters attending the property. However, C advised that this was because A was not physically able to do this due to their disabilities. We contacted the council for further information about what had happened. They advised that they had attempted to fit the carpets on two occasions but were unable to do so within the allocated time slot due to the volume of furniture and general belongings. We advised the council of the need to take into account equality considerations and make reasonable adjustments to ensure that A could access their award. The council agreed that they would arrange for their suppliers to move the furniture prior to fitting the carpets on behalf of A.

Updated: July 19, 2023