Questions and Answers

What do I do if I think the council’s decision is wrong?

You should first ask the council to reconsider its decision (a first tier review).  If you disagree with the final decision, you can ask us for an independent review.  Contact details for your local council can be found on the Scottish Government website.

I’m unhappy about part of the council’s decision but I’m worried that the SPSO could take away what I’ve already been awarded.

We won’t reduce or take away any award the council has given. This is in line with general Scottish Welfare Fund principles.

I need help with making a request for review – who can help me?

If you need assistance with asking for a review, you can get help from someone you trust.  You may like to ask your local Citizens Advice Bureau, an advocate or your support worker.  Your Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), councillor, Member of Parliament (MP), or a friend or relative may also be able to help.

Can someone make a request for review on my behalf?

Yes. If someone is asking for an independent review on your behalf, you will need to tell us you are happy for this to happen. If you are helping someone to ask for an independent review, we’ll need their consent – unless there’s a good reason they can’t give it. If you have consented to someone else applying on your behalf, we may share information with them.

What can I do if the council have told me I am too late to ask for a first tier review?

We may be able to help, depending on the circumstances. You should speak to our Scottish Welfare Fund team.

I have new information I think the council should have looked at when making its decision.

If the information is about something the council should have known about at the time of your application, we may take it into account. However, if the information is completely new, you may need to make a new application to the council.

What if I am still unhappy after the SPSO’s independent review?

If you are unhappy with our decision, you can ask us to reconsider it. We’ll ask you to tell us why you disagree with the decision. We won’t reconsider our decision simply because you are disappointed with it.
You can read our leaflet about reconsidering our decisions online or you can ask us for a copy.

Will I have to speak to SPSO in person?

Usually, we can complete our independent review using information you and the council have given us. We can take applications over the phone, but also in writing  or online. Sometimes we’ll need to check information. This will usually be by phone or in writing but we may also ask to meet you if necessary. Sometimes we may need to have an oral hearing. This would be with you (and any representative you have) and the council.  You can ask us for more information about this.
We will always ask how you would like to be contacted and will try to meet your needs to make things as easy as possible.

What’s the point in asking for a review? You will just make the same decision as the council.

Our service is free, independent and impartial. We’ll consider whether the council should have made a different decision. We have legal powers that allow us to do this. We can check a number of things, including whether the decision was fair and reasonable. For more information on this, please see our leaflet about asking for an independent review.

I have been told the fund has run out of money – what can the SPSO do?

The Scottish Welfare Fund is a limited fund. We can’t make an award to you if you applied for a grant when the fund was empty.
Our decision is based on whether there was money in the fund when you applied. If you applied when money was available but the fund is now empty, we’d be able to award you if that should have been the decision at the time.

I think the decision is OK but I was treated badly by the council

If you are unhappy with the service the council gave you, you should normally complain to the council using its complaints procedure. You can complain even if you don’t want to review the council’s decision. This may be, for example, because you are unhappy with how the council treated you or with a delay. Once you have received the council’s response to your complaint, you can then complain to the SPSO.

Making independent reviews public

We may publish information about our reviews.  This is to show people what we’ve found and what we’ve asked councils to do.  We’ll remove information that could identify anyone.

Updated: January 30, 2024