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Case study

  • Date:
    August 2017
  • Category:


Ms C applied for a community care grant for clothing. She stated that the need had arisen because her son had gained a considerable amount of weight in a short time due to a change in medication. As a result he no longer had any clothes that fitted him. The applicant was on a low income and struggling to pay for new clothing, having recently spent money on a new school uniform.
The council’s decision makers assessed that this application did not pass the initial eligibility checks and that clothing is an on-going expense excluded from the fund (Annex A, 16). They upheld this decision at first tier.
Ms C applied to SPSO for an independent review. We disagreed with the council’s assessment. The application contained the contact details of a nurse therapist working for the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service, and when we spoke with them they were able to confirm the applicant’s account of the weight gain – 11kg in less than five months. This was confirmed to be a significant increase out-with what would be expected of a growing child. Based on this information we assessed that this was a one-off need that could not have been anticipated, and did not constitute on-going expenditure. We therefore considered that the application met the eligibility criteria. We also assessed that this was a family under exceptional pressure and that their request met the necessary council priority level. We upheld the review request and awarded money for clothing. As there is no record of the council making an attempt to gather information from this source we were critical of the council's inquisitorial approach.

Updated: July 17, 2019