Social Security Experience Panels: annual report 2021

Fourth annual report from the Social Security Experience Panels programme, covering the key activities and outputs from 2021.

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I am pleased to publish the Scottish Government’s fourth annual report on the work of the Social Security Experience Panels.

2021 was another busy and challenging year for our work with members of the Experience Panels. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has continued to impact on the ways we work and the types of research we can undertake. Nevertheless, it is as important to us as ever to ensure that the voices of those with experience of the current benefits system are embedded into the design of the new social security system in Scotland.

With Social Security Scotland delivering 11 benefits (and our 12th – Adult Disability Payment – is being introduced in March 2022), it now feels like an appropriate time to pause and reflect on what has been achieved since the Experience Panels were set up in 2017. Panel members have been involved in shaping most of these benefits, as well as helping us to consider everything from the style and language used in letters and the application processes, to the look and feel of our buildings.

Child Disability Payment was rolled out nationally in November 2021. This was the first application-based disability benefit to be introduced by the Scottish Government, and it coincided with the introduction of our new Local Delivery service. The new service allows clients to book an appointment to meet with a specially trained adviser, at a venue within their local community or at their home, or request a video call or telephone appointment. The service offers support to people applying for any of the benefits that Social Security Scotland currently offers. This year, Adult Disability Payment will roll out nationwide from August 2022, following a number of pilot phases which commence in March 2022.

During 2021 we also worked with panel members to explore topics such as carer benefits, data privacy and understanding how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has effected how people want to communicate with Social Security Scotland. We have undertaken a comprehensive programme of user research, working with panel members to help test and refine processes and services such as the transfer from Personal Independence Payment to Adult Disability Payment, local delivery and decision making.

The Social Security Experience Panels are a crucial part of our work, as we begin the delivery of Adult Disability Payment and prepare for the introduction of Scottish Carers Assistance. The dedication and openness of our panel members is fundamental to building a better social security system for the people of Scotland. We will continue to work together.

Ben Macpherson

Minister for Social Security and Local Government



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