Disability benefits evaluation - case transfer: evaluation

A report on the evaluation of the case transfer process for those in receipt of Adult Disability and Child Disability Payment

Executive Summary


The Scotland Act (2016) devolved some social security powers to the Scottish Government for the first time, including disability and carer benefits. Social Security Scotland, the organisation responsible for the delivery of these benefits, was set up in 2018 and the programme of devolution is expected to be completed by 2025/26.

This research is part of a wider programme of work evaluating the impact of policy change in the devolution of disability benefits. The initial priority for the devolution of disability and carer benefits has been ensuring that around 700,000 people in Scotland have their awards transition safely and securely from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to Social Security Scotland so that they continue to get the right payments at the right time. As of April 2024, the Scottish Government had transferred the disability benefit awards of more than 156,000 people from the Department for Work and Pensions to Social Security Scotland.

The report presents findings from an evaluation of the first benefits that were part of the transfer process. It explores the experiences of people whose cases had transferred to/from

  • Child Disability Payment (CDP) from Disability Living Allowance for children (DLAC).
  • Adult Disability Payment (ADP) from either Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

The evaluation largely covers the period between April 2022 and July 2023 and covers clients’ experiences of the case transfer and, where one has taken place, the first review of their award by Social Security Scotland. It draws on data from a number of sources, including:

  • Interviews with clients whose cases had transferred to Child Disability Payment or Adult Disability Payment
  • Interviews and focus groups with staff involved in the case transfer and review process
  • Interviews with organisations who had provided support to clients whose benefits had been transferred
  • Analysis of data from Social Security Scotland's 2022/23 client survey

Key findings

The report evaluates progress towards a set of short-, medium- and long-term policy outcomes focusing on the experience of the case transfer and review process specifically, on clients’ follow up views and experiences, and on individuals’ attitudes towards Social Security Scotland beyond the case transfer and review process.

Understanding of the process

The case transfer process was generally well understood by clients. There were more mixed understandings and expectations of the review process.

Areas of confusion included the process for backdating payments and process and timescales for the review element.

Differences in experiences across clients

Clients whose benefit was transferring from DLA to ADP and those reporting a change in circumstances all had their award reviewed as part of the overall case transfer process, and tended to report experiencing more challenges than other clients. The length of time the whole process took was a key issue which contributed to increased anxiety.

Clients reporting a change in circumstances also experienced issues with the length and online functionality of the review form.

Safe and secure process

The case transfer process was experienced as safe and secure; clients experienced the correct payments at the correct time.

Some clients experienced difficulties with the continuity of support from other benefits or schemes (for example, Motability or local authority schemes).


Communication received about the case transfer process was generally felt to be clear by clients and helped them to feel informed.

Both clients and support organisations experienced difficulties in contacting Social Security Scotland which impacted on clients’ understanding and anxiety about the process.

Some clients received inconsistent communication from the DWP and Social Security Scotland.

Decision making

Support organisations were generally positive about the transparency of decision making.

Views of Social Security Scotland

Clients and support organisations reflected positively on feeling treated with dignity, fairness and respect. Interactions with staff and overall style of letters contributed to sense of trust in Social Security Scotland.

Trust in Social Security Scotland will take time to develop and will be impacted by a range of interactions, beyond the case transfer process.


The recommendations have been identified from looking across the challenges described in the progress towards the short-, medium- and long-term outcomes.

1. Review existing guidance covering backdating payments for clients, staff and support organisations

2. Consider how to improve the experiences of those reporting a change of circumstances, particularly clients transferring from DLA to ADP. Improvements could include reducing the length of the review form; consideration of ability to complete form online; reducing the overall length of time (transfer plus review); and providing updates on progress to clients.

3. To strengthen understanding about the scheduled reviews, consider timing and instructions regarding completion of declaration and change of circumstances form.

4. Review the communication going to clients from Social Security Scotland and the DWP to strengthen consistency and reduce risk that clients will be sent incorrect information.

5. Consider how to improve the process for clients and support organisations to communicate with Social Security Scotland about the case transfer and review process. As well as reducing waiting times, suggestions from the research included separate phone numbers for different departments, updates on likely wait time and improvements to the mandate process for support organisations.

6. Review processes to ensure clients’ continuity of support from other benefits or schemes during the case transfer and review process

7. To support the continued implementation of policy commitments, review detailed recommendations discussed in the attached Annex A which covers improvements to training, guidance and support for Social Security Scotland Staff in relation to the case transfer and review process.

8. To strengthen evaluation of policy commitments, continue to consider the measurement and monitoring of long-term policy outcomes.

These findings have been shared with the Scottish Government to help inform actions to address the issues highlighted.


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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