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Case study

  • Date:
    July 2017
  • Category:
    Homelessness qualifying criterion


Miss C applied for a community care grant for a cooker, a fridge freezer, kitchen utensils, a single bed and mattress, a single bedding set and a sofa. She had recently accepted a private let tenancy after sofa surfing for over a year. She needed these items to set up her new home.

The council refused the application on the basis that they did not consider she met any of the qualifying criteria for an award. Specifically they assessed that as she had made an application for a crisis grant from another council and they had no evidence that she had registered as homeless with the council. They also assessed that she did not meet the criteria for exceptional pressure as she was a single person, not a family. Miss C submitted a first tier review request, noting that she suffered from mental health issues, and provided a copy of her signed tenancy proving that she was planning on living in the council area. The council took into account this information but did not change their decision.

Miss C asked the SPSO to review the council's decision making. We took into account the specific facts of the case. We noted that Miss C wanted to move back to the area so she could be closer to her children, who lived with her mother. We also took into account the guidance notes around the qualifying criteria. We assessed the council were wrong to refuse the application under the homeless criteria because Miss C had not registered to present as homeless. The guidance does not require that a person be regarded as statutorily homeless or be assisted by the homeless team to secure a new tenancy. However, we agreed that she did not meet this criteria based on a different reason. She was not in receipt of any other form of tenancy support which is a requirement under this criterion (section 8.13). We also considered whether she would meet the criteria relating to exceptional pressure, however we assessed that the major pressure she was facing at the time of her application was financial in nature. As we did not consider she met any of the qualifying criteria we did not uphold the review request. However, we were critical of how the council recorded and communicated with the applicant. We noted that she was not given an opportunity to refute or respond to evidence the council gathered as per s4.19 of the guidance, and we considered the council misinterpreted both the guidance and her circumstances. We were also critical as the council referred to the applicant by the wrong name and gender throughout the process.

Updated: July 17, 2019