Social Security Experience Panels: attendance allowance discovery

This report explores Experience Panel member views on claiming Attendance Allowance.


Finding out about Attendance Allowance

Participants found out about Attendance Allowance from various places. Some were persuaded to apply by family or friends, whilst others were advised to apply by doctors or support workers. Many participants did not know Attendance Allowance existed, or that it was an option for their particular condition.

Participants suggested that to increase awareness of Attendance Allowance, the benefit should be advertised in GP surgeries and other healthcare settings, as well as targeted engagement with third sector organisations such as charities or Citizen's Advice Bureau.

Applying for Attendance Allowance

Focus group participants told us it took them time to come to terms with their support needs before they could apply. Filling in the form forced them to 'confront their new reality' and accept they could not go about their lives as they used to.

Many participants had applied on behalf of other people, such as their partner or parents. Participants acquired an application form from various sources, such as being posted to them by DWP, given to them by a carer or collecting it themselves from a JobCentre. Some participants told us that obtaining an application was a difficult experience.

The form itself was described as being 'confusing' and 'complex'. The repetitive nature of the form was seen as being 'daunting' and put some people off applying. Even participants who were used to completing difficult or complex forms as part of their jobs felt the AA form was difficult.

Despite the length of the form, many participants felt they did not get a chance to say what they wanted to say. Some felt the form missed out important questions, or that it did not give them space to talk about their health condition.

Many participants said they wanted to complete the application form online however keeping a paper form was also important.

Participants told us that they sent in varied supporting evidence when applying. This included evidence from their GP, consultant or other health professional, evidence from social and care workers and lists of medicines they were taking.

When asked if they would be happy with the agency gathering some supporting evidence for them (such as through data sharing), most participants were happy for this to take place so long as accessing the information was restricted to healthcare professionals.

Impact of Attendance Allowance

Participants told us that Attendance Allowance helped them to maintain indepdence, supplement the additional day to day costs arising from their health condition and helped ensure their financial stability. In practice, this meant things such as purchasing meals and paying for taxis.

Participants told us the extra money 'made life a little easier' as things such as heating their home became more affordable. Several participants told us that without the benefit, they would not be able to meet their financial commitments.

When asked what they thought Attendance Allowance was for, most participants felt it was to help them to retain independence and to support them to continue to live in their own homes for as long as possible.



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