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Social Security Experience Panels: benefit take-up – report

This report covers findings from research with Social Security Experience Panels members about their experiences of accessing the benefit system.

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Geographical barriers 

Rural locations

Some participants described how geography made it difficult for them to access services. They described how they or others they knew had been isolated in rural areas that were not well connected by transport or the internet. This had made accessing the system much harder. 

"My niece was applying for Universal Credit, CAB helped her make her application. Where she lives has geographical challenges as well as public transport issues which makes it very difficult for her. She does not have access to broadband, she can get online at the library but suffers from anxiety issues which makes her getting out to do this more difficult. This kind of issue needs to be taken into account."

"Geography and access really impacts on how people find out about information. Public transport causes massive issues and drives people into impossible situations."

Participants also spoke about their experiences of living in rural locations and how it had made them more hesitant to seek support. These discussions spoke about physical access issues as well as cultural aspects of living in rural communities.

"Being in a rural location is tied in with so many other things. For example, there is a lot of issues around mental health in rural areas, where people I know aren't as likely as to reach for help. If you are living in a very small tightly connected community, there will be certain things which are more helpful, like people in communities providing a safety net. However, there's others I know who are more hesitant to go for a benefit even if they are eligible. This is because people might treat them differently and might even close off opportunities for them." 

"There is a lot of hidden poverty in rural areas, it also looks a lot different. For example in rural areas you must have a car to get around, but in other areas not having a car isn't a sign of poverty. From an agency point of view, you need to look at rural areas in a different way to urban areas."

Contact

Email: SocialSecurityExperience@gov.scot

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