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

Conclusions and Recommendations

This chapter begins with a summary of progress towards the short-, medium- and long-term outcomes described in the case transfer logic model. These are summarised in terms of what is working well and areas for further consideration.

Highlights of progress towards short-term outcomes

What is working well?

  • Communication received about the case transfer process was generally well-understood by clients and helped them to feel informed.
  • The case transfer was experienced as safe and secure with little to no evidence that clients experienced gaps in their disability benefit payments.
  • Style and content of letters from Social Security Scotland helped clients to feel reassured about the case transfer and review process.

What are the challenges?

  • Clients, support organisations and staff all reported some confusion about the process of backdating payments.
  • Clients transferring from DLA to ADP and those reporting a change in circumstances experienced less clarity and also greater anxiety about the case transfer and review process.
  • Clients reporting a change in circumstances experienced challenges with the length of the review form; it’s limited online functionality; and lengthy wait times between reporting a change and receiving an outcome from the review which subsequently impacted on increased anxiety and issues with access to other benefits and support.
  • Clients experienced inconsistent communication from the DWP and Social Security Scotland which contributed to lack of understanding
  • Both clients and support organisations experienced difficulties in contacting Social Security Scotland which impacted on clients’ understanding and anxiety about the process

Highlights of progress towards medium-term outcomes

What is working well?

  • Whilst some clients reported a neutral attitude, other clients and support organisations reflected interactions with staff had helped them to develop a positive attitude towards Social Security Scotland
  • There were mixed feelings about the decision making, often relating to the outcome of the award. Support organisations were generally positive about the transparency of decision making.
  • Clients and support organisations reflected positively on feeling treated with dignity, fairness and respect

What are the challenges?

  • Clients reported mixed understandings and expectations of the review process.
  • In general, some anxiety about the review process remained.
  • Uncertainty around timescales and backdating of payments as well as communication errors or impacts on access to other benefits contributed to anxiety about the review process.

Highlights of progress towards long-term outcomes

What is working well?

  • Clients reported trust in Social Security Scotland and this was particularly the case for those who had experienced positive interactions and had received a review outcome in line with their expectations
  • Overall, clients reported positive experiences of how they had been treated by Social Security Scotland
  • Communications with Social Security Scotland were generally regarded as more positive than those received from the DWP, however there were some communication issues highlighted (see earlier outcomes).

What are the challenges?

  • Trust in Social Security Scotland will take time to develop and will be impacted by a variety of interactions with Social Security Scotland, beyond the case transfer process.
  • Whilst there is some positive evidence of clients feeling increasingly comfortable with getting in touch with Social Security Scotland to report a change in circumstances, more time and further data is needed to assess this outcome


The recommendations discussed in this section have been identified from looking across the challenges described in the progress towards the short-, medium- and long-term outcomes. They also align with those identified in the commissioned qualitative research, building on these with evidence from other sources.

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

2. Consider the experiences of those reporting a change of circumstances, particularly clients transferring from DLA to ADP. Possible ways to improve their experiences would include:

  • Reducing the length of the review form
  • Making the review form available to complete online
  • Reducing the time between reporting a change in circumstance and receiving an outcome on an award
  • Update on the case transfer or review and/or further information about timescales

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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