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Case study

  • Date:
    June 2017
  • Category:
    Lost money


Mr C applied for a crisis grant. He had recently made a new application for Universal Credit and had been awarded a short-term benefit advance of £160.00, which he had lost after withdrawing the full amount from a cash machine.

The council assessed that as he had already received four awards in the previous 12 months, he was not eligible for a further award. They upheld their decision at first tier.

Mr C asked the SPSO to review the decision. We took into account the specific facts of Mr C's situation including that he would not be due his first Universal Credit payment for some time and had no money for food or utilities until then. He also noted that he was due to look after his daughter at the weekend and would not be able to do so if he had no money. We took into account what the guidance (section 7.23) says about multiple awards. Welfare fund grants are intended to meet occasional or short term needs and cannot provide an alternative source of regular income. The Regulations specify that the number of awards that any person can receive should normally be limited to three in any rolling 12-month period. The Regulations do allow local authorities to use their discretion to allow more than three awards in exceptional circumstances. Where repeated applications are received for the same reasons, the decision maker should consider whether these circumstances are now normal for the applicant and whether they are common for those on a low income or exceptional compared to the previous applications. Where additional circumstances have been given applicants would normally be able to evidence no fault on their part. We noted that Mr C had received an award within the last 12 months due to losing money, and therefore did not consider the current circumstances to be exceptional compared with previous applications. We did not uphold the review request.

Updated: July 17, 2019