5. The Decision Making Process
5.1 Screening questions or eligibility checkers should not be used to deter applicants from making an application for SWF grants. Even if it seems unlikely that the application will be successful, the applicant should not be prevented from applying. A record should be kept of each application and the customer notified of the outcome and how a review can be requested. This ensures that each attempt to apply is captured in the statistical data collected and a decision maker has the opportunity to consider the case and apply discretion.
Conditions which should be met for an applicant to be awarded a grant
5.2 The key test of eligibility for a Crisis Grant is the severity of the applicant's situation and the likely impact on them and their family.
5.3 The key test of eligibility for a Community Care Grant is retaining or establishing a settled way of life in the community.
5.4 Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants can cover a wide range of personal circumstances. Whether a grant can be awarded should depend on four separate stages:
Stage 1 – Initial eligibility checks 
- Verify identity and establishing that the home address, or the address the applicant intends to live at, is in the local authority, or that the applicant is homeless or has no fixed address
- Check whether the applicant is on a low income or does not have access to their money
- Check that the applicant or their partner does not have any savings or capital that excludes them for being awarded a grant (only relevant to Community Care Grants)
- Check that the applicant or their partner does not have savings or capital or some other source of help that they could use instead (only relevant to Crisis Grant applications)
- Check that the applicant is not being considered for a DWP Hardship Payment, or has an application pending for a STBA (only relevant to Crisis Grant applications)
- Check that the application is not for an excluded item (see Annex A)
- Check that the application is not excluded because the application history precludes a repeat application, including in another local authority area - this includes checking that there has not been a change in circumstances since the last application
- Check that the application is not excluded for any other reason
- Applicants do not need to have a National Insurance number to be eligible
Stage 2 – Meeting the requirements of the grant 
- Gather evidence to check whether the applicant's personal circumstances meet the conditions for the grants
- Check whether there is more appropriate support available to meet this need for example through other local authority services
- Check whether other local authority services have already undertaken any assessments which might inform the decision making process
Stage 3 – Prioritisation of items applied for
5.5 Assess whether, taking the applicant's situation and needs in to account, the items applied for are of sufficient priority to warrant a payment from available funds (see Section 3 of the guidance regarding financial management of welfare funds) . Each application should be considered on its own merits.
5.6 First, an application should be assessed taking into account the nature, extent, severity and urgency of the need, and the impact that an award would have on the circumstances of the applicant. Each item in the application should be considered in the context of the applicant's needs and should be given one of three priority ratings:
- High priority should be given to an item if the nature of the applicant's need is judged to be immediate and severe, they are judged to be highly vulnerable, an award for the item or money requested will have a substantial or immediate sustained effect in resolving or improving the health and wellbeing of them or their family and there will be significant adverse consequences if the item or money is not provided.
- Medium priority should be given to an item if the nature of the applicant's need is judged to be less immediate or severe, they are judged to be moderately vulnerable, an award for the item requested will have a noticeable effect, although not substantial or immediate, in resolving or improving the health and wellbeing of the applicant and there will be moderate adverse consequences if the item or money is not provided.
- Low priority should be given to an item if the nature of the applicants need is not judged to be time critical, they are judged to have a degree of personal resilience, an award for the item requested will have only a minor effect in resolving or improving the applicant's health and wellbeing and there will not be identifiable adverse consequences if the item or money is not provided.
5.7 The following matrix shows the interaction between the elements of prioritisation. Real situations will not fit neatly in to the boxes, but the matrix can be used as a guide for decision makers to help them improve consistency in decision making.
|Need||Immediate Severe||Less immediate Less severe||Not time critical|
|Consequences of no grant to health/wellbeing||Significantly adverse||Moderately adverse||No identifiable effect|
|Effect of grant||Immediate Substantial||Noticeable||Minor|
5.8 If the decision is to make an award, it may be for all or part of what has been applied for and may be an award of goods or cash.
5.9 Second, an application should be assessed, taking into account the vulnerability of the applicant and the likely consequences of refusal. Some examples of vulnerabilities which would give an application higher priority are set out at Annex C. This is not an exhaustive list and should not be used rigidly to prioritise applications. Reasons for vulnerability may be specific to the individual and may change over time. If there are multiple reasons for considering a person to be vulnerable, they would be given a higher priority.
Stage 4 – checking priority levels applying at time of decision
5.10 Finally, checking the level of priority that the local authority is paying out on that month, and whether there is sufficient money available in the budget to pay a grant. The level of priority used should be the priority level in place at the time the decision was made unless a change has been made to the benefit of the applicant ( e.g. a lower priority level is now in place).
Crisis Grant or Community Care Grant
5.11 It is for the local authority to determine whether a grant should be made as a Crisis or a Community Care Grant. If an applicant applies for one, the local authority may decide to award the other if it is more appropriate to the applicant's circumstances.
5.12 Applicants may make an application for a Crisis Grant and a Community Care Grant at the same time if their circumstances make this necessary, for example a person who has left home because of violence and is in need of immediate support and longer term help to set up home.
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