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Scottish Welfare Fund For Second-tier Review Panels. Aims Of The Course. To know the process for review To understand the role of the review panel To understand the approach to decision making To explore some issues likely to arise

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Presentation Transcript
aims of the course
Aims Of The Course
  • To know the process for review
  • To understand the role of the review panel
  • To understand the approach to decision making
  • To explore some issues likely to arise
  • To gain an overview of Scottish Welfare Fund grant conditions
review process overview
Review Process Overview

Applicant unhappy with customer service

Decision

Applicant unhappy with decision

First-tier review

Scottish Public Sector Ombudsman

Local authority complaints procedure

Second-tier review

Judicialreview

first tier review
First-tier Review

A different decision maker makes a new decision looking at all the evidence afresh

NEW DECISION

This replaces the original decision

Applicant may ask for review of first-tier review because of

  • Mistake in applying guidance (eg, eligibility, qualifying criteria, priority, grant amount, evidence gathered)
  • Decision unreasonable
  • Application treated unfairly
  • Not given chance to put case properly
purpose of second tier review
Purpose of Second-tier Review
  • Ensure correct, reasonable and fair decisions are being made and guidance followed
  • Check guidance is being applied consistently
  • Provide feedback on unintended consequences of Guidance & local policies
  • Promote confidence in the Fund, demonstrate impartial scrutiny & add credibility to the Fund as a whole

SWF Guide para 11.9

is decision correct reasonable and fair
Is Decision Correct, Reasonable and Fair?

Step 1 Can you deal with it? (remit)

Step 2 Is there an error in the decision or is it unreasonable or unfair?

NO YES

Tell applicant (in writing)

Give reasons

Feedback to decision maker

Record decision

Step 3 Refer back to decision maker or remake

general approach
General Approach

For each stage of decision making ask yourself these questions

  • Was guidance and local policy followed correctly?
  • Was relevant information considered and irrelevant information disregarded (eg, no bias)?
  • Was evidence weighed correctly?
  • Was there enough evidence to decide the facts
  • Did applicant have a reasonable chance to put their case?
  • Did decision maker exercise discretion, and make informed decision based on merits (eg, and not on rule of thumb)?

IS DECISION REASONABLE?

is decision reasonable
Is Decision Reasonable?

Could a reasonable person

  • who knows the guidance and
  • who knows the facts

have reached this decision

  • Another reasonable person could disagree
  • But should not offend logic or good sense
facts and evidence
Facts and Evidence
  • Relevant facts are needed for each stage of decision making
  • Need to look at evidence to establish the facts
  • Some evidence has greater weight
  • Balance of probability
  • Some issues
    • Lack of evidence
    • Inconsistencies
    • Mental ill health
    • Corroboration
    • Previous applications
stages of decision making
Stages of Decision Making

Stage 1 Are they eligible

Repeat applications/ exclusions/ qualifying benefit

Stage 2 Do they qualify

Do personal/ family circumstances meet the criteria in guidance

Stage 3 Are they a priority

High, medium or low given nature, extent, severity and urgency of need, vulnerability

Stage 4 Is there money in the budget

crisis grant
Stage 1 Eligibility

ID/home address

Repeat applications

3 per 12 months

28 day rule

Other resources

eg savings or STBA

Exclusions

Excluded items/ needs eg phone

Benefit sanctions

Qualifying benefit

Stage 2 Qualifying conditions

Immediate living expenses because of emergency

Items or living expensesbecause of disaster

Crisis Grant
crisis grant stage 2 qualifying conditions
Crisis Grant Stage 2 Qualifying Conditions

Immediate short-term living expenses needed because of an emergency

  • ‘Emergency’ = circumstance of pressing need which needs immediate action
  • Eg, losing money or having money stolen, having had to leave home suddenly

Items or living expenses needed because of a disaster

  • ‘Disaster’ = event of great or sudden misfortune, usually causing damage to, destruction or loss of, possessions or property
  • Eg, serious flood or fire
community care grant
Stage 1 Eligibility

ID/home address

Repeat applications

28 day rule

Exclusions

Excluded living arrangements

Excluded items/ needs

Capital limit

Benefit sanctions

Qualifying benefit

Stage 2 Qualifying conditions

Moving out of care

Staying in community

Setting up home after unsettled way of life

Families under

exceptional

pressure

Caring for

prisoner on release on temporary licence

Community Care Grant
assessing priority possible issues
Assessing PriorityPossible Issues
  • Whether DM has exercised discretion reasonably
  • Whether DM has wrongly used a rule of thumb or list – emphasis should not be on the general importance of an item (which would apply to anyone) but on the impact an award for the item may have on the applicant’s particular circumstances that led to qualifying for a grant
what level of grant
What Level of Grant
  • Amount discretionary but should meet the need
  • For crisis grant, max based on % of income support
  • Can award goods or vouchers instead of cash

Possible issues

  • Applicant prefers cash not voucher/ goods
  • Amount not enough to meet the need
  • Objection to referral to foodbank
  • Food vouchers by default (rather than because right option for applicant)
  • Standard item not appropriate for applicant’s needs
communicating original and first tier decision
Communicating Original and First-tier Decision
  • Time limits
    • Crisis grants as soon as possible 2 days maximum
    • CCGs 15 working days
  • Method
    • By phone for crisis grant if possible (Always follow up in writing)
  • Advice on other support
    • Eg, debt advice, benefit check

Possible Issues

  • No written decision
  • No clear explanation of reasons for decision
  • Inadequate information about right to review
panel decisions
Panel Decisions

Panel CANNOT reduce or remove an award

changes of circumstances
Changes of Circumstances
  • If likely to affect outcome of review then review suspended
  • DM makes new decision

(no first-tier review recorded)

  • Applicant can request review
  • Then request second-tier review
  • If there is an unrelated change of circumstances, applicant must re-apply
processes time limits
Processes – Time Limits

Second-tier review

  • Time limit to apply
    • 20 working days from first-tier review decision
  • Time to decide
    • 5 working days CG
    • 30 working days CCG
composition of panel
Composition of Panel
  • Minimum of two people (one for crisis grants)
  • And someone to keep record of proceedings
  • Can include
    • other local authority staff
    • elected members
    • members of local third sector organisations
    • members of other Local Authorities
procedure
Procedure
  • Paper-based – applicant and DM do not attend
  • Can be held electronically (eg teleconferencing)
  • Panel can contact applicant and DM if necessary
  • Chair elected by panel, manages meeting, checks record of proceedings and has casting vote
supporting the applicant
Supporting The Applicant

Applicants should be

  • notified of the date and time of the review
  • given the opportunity to submit additional evidence
  • given sight of all evidence and information which will be before the panel
  • offered the chance to provide a phone number so that the panel can contact them (panel can use other means if applicant can’t use phone)
  • given as much information as possible throughout about their review
monitoring and policy
Monitoring And Policy

Feedback to Scottish Government will include:

  • Reports on numbers of reviews – numbers and reasons reviews are sought
  • Discussions with decision makers and review officers – giving feedback
  • Sampling of paperwork for reviews.
  • Development of the Decision Makers Guide and relevant case studies.