Social Security Experience Panel: Scottish Welfare Fund experiences

This report outlines the Social Security Experience Panel Members views expressed in a survey about their experiences of the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Understanding the decision about your application

Among those who said that their application was unsuccessful or that they didn’t receive everything that they had applied for (64 respondents), almost four in five (78 per cent) said that they did not fully understand why from the decision letter. Just over one in five (22 per cent) said that they did understand the reason.

Respondents described feeling that decisions were unfair or inconsistent. In particular, some felt that they were unable to get the grant because they didn’t fit the right criteria, without consideration for their individual circumstance or need. This may reflect the eligibility criteria set out in the regulations and statutory guidance for the Scottish Welfare Fund.

I felt that because I didn't know what I was doing, because I'm not on tons of benefits, that I was an easy fail. It didn't matter that I needed the money, I wasn't on their social lists or whatever so that was that.

Apparently as I wasn't just out of hospital or prison I was not eligible for the money

There was no letter - I was told on the phone that the fund could not help because it did not cover heating bills like mine.

Others felt there was a lack of clear information about what is available and the relevant criteria – this was raised in relation to both information available before applying, and in terms of decision letters.

I had been advised by a welfare officer my savings might be disregarded because a lot of it was a benefits back-payment. This didn’t turn out to be the case. No explanation was provided in the feedback letter I received other than I had too much in cash/savings.

Some said that they either hadn’t received a decision letter, or that their letter was difficult to read and needed to be in plain English.

In plain English would have made a difference. If you have learning difficulties it makes it near impossible to understand

I didn't even get to give my circumstances over the phone, I was just told that as I was single I did not qualify. Now I know to demand a letter confirming the "Decision"

Only one in eight (12 per cent) respondents said that they had unsuccessfully appealed an application for Scottish Welfare Fund[2]. Of these respondents, all said that they did not fully understand the reason why their appeal was unsuccessful.

These respondents felt that individual circumstances were not taken into account, for example lack of, or inadequate regular income due to an ongoing appeal against a Department for Work and Pensions decision. Others felt that they were not listened to during the process.

The appeal took what the council employee said as factual and at no point made any attempt to get more information from myself.



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