6. Qualifying Conditions / Exclusions
Exclusions for both Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants
6.1 The Regulations provide that a local authority does not need to consider an application if a person has applied for a Community Care Grant or a Crisis Grant for the same items or services within the last 28 days, where a decision has already been made and there has not been a relevant change of circumstances. This is so that LAs are not required to process repeated unchanged applications for the same items which would not be the best use of administration resources. Examples of what could be considered a relevant change of circumstance may be;
- a change in living circumstances which has a financial impact;
- deterioration in a health condition that is deemed to be relevant to their application;
- entering a new and different period of crisis which occurs after their initial application.
The individual circumstances of the case should be taken into account and the above list is not exhaustive.
For crisis grants this means that an application for living expenses for the same period should not be considered twice. An application for living expenses for a different period e.g. the week following the period covered by their previous application, is not an application for the same items or services, as it covers a different period.
6.2 Where an award has been made to assist a person to care for an individual on temporary release within the past 28 days and a further application is received for a different period of temporary release, this would be considered to be a relevant change in circumstances and a further award can be made.
6.3 Local authorities should not refuse Crisis or Community Care Grants on the basis that the applicant has outstanding debts to the local authority e.g. local authority tax arrears or unpaid parking tickets. Any grant made to the individual should not be used to pay outstanding debt to a local authority, see exclusions at Annex A of the guidance.
6.5 There is no separate criterion for awarding grants for travel expenses. Expenses for travel to a family funeral or for visits to prison or hospital do not qualify for a grant in their own right. However, if the local authority judges that a journey is essential in connection with a crisis, exceptional pressure or in support of independent living, they may make an award for travelling expenses under the criteria for Crisis and Community Care Grants. In these cases, awards should be for the standard rate public transport. Where public transport is not available or is not suitable for some reason, petrol costs or taxi costs may be awarded. Local authorities may award travel vouchers. Any travel awards will count towards three grants in a 12 month period.
Applicants subject to immigration control
6.6 The legislation covering immigration control is very complex and changeable. It is important that Welfare Fund teams make links with officers within their local authority who specialise in this area.
6.7 If a person is subject to immigration control that means that they
(a) require leave to enter or remain; or
(b) they have leave to enter or remain but that this is subject to a condition that they have “No Recourse to Public Funds” (NRPF).
An individual with NRPF has no entitlement to mainstream social security benefits, local authority housing or homelessness assistance. Making a grant to a person with NRPF can affect their legal status and no award should be made. The applicant should instead be referred to Welfare Rights, the Home Office or relevant bodies for specialist immigration advice and assistance.
6.8 People who are awaiting a decision on an asylum application to stay in the UK, or whose application has been refused, are not entitled to most mainstream social security benefits and should be excluded from the SWF.
6.9 A ‘refugee’ is a person who has been granted permission to remain in the UK and becomes eligible to work and can access mainstream welfare benefits on the same basis as UK nationals. This includes applying for Community Care Grants and/or Crisis Grants from the SWF.
European Economic Area Nationals
6.10 European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who are subject to a Habitual Residency Test will not normally be entitled to benefits while the test is carried out. During this period, or while an appeal for benefits is pending, the local authority may still award a grant.
6.11 EEA nationals may be more likely to approach the SWF for assistance due to UK restrictions on access to benefits, for example, as a result of a Genuine Prospect of Work Assessment, The Right to Reside or Habitual Residency Test. Applications for assistance from EEA nationals should be assessed in the normal way, as EEA Nationals are not excluded from applying for assistance by their immigration status.