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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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Improving information materials

Many participants also shared views about the language and tone of the information that promoted Social Security Scotland benefits.

New Social Security Scotland brand 

Some participants felt that Social Security Scotland needed to use information materials to make it clear that it was separate from the Department for Work and Pensions. These participants spoke about the opportunity of creating a new brand of Social Security Scotland that could provide a clear and positive message. 

"The Scottish system should try to rebrand. It should try to show they are this new entity and what a great approach they have. The more you can distance yourself from DWP, the more people will approach you for help."

"The brand should be one that encourages people to apply. Something that's positive."

Kinder messages that remove fear

A number of participants spoke about how the language and tone of information materials should look to win the trust of those who might pick them up. Several spoke about how the tone of a leaflet or poster could make them instinctively think that the organisation was there to help them or not. 

"You have to understand the fear of what's ahead in people's minds. People won't take a leaflet if they're scared." 

"I think the tone of the wording matters. If something comes across really bluntly, for me it's like a knife through my heart."

Several suggested that Social Security Scotland could include positive stories in its information materials. It was felt that if someone picked up a leaflet, and could read about someone's lived experience claiming the benefit, this could encourage them to apply. This is covered in more detail later in the report. 

"With the roll out and campaigning of new benefits, they should be giving positive examples of experiences to give others confidence. I already have examples of the funeral payment."

A number of participants also suggested that Social Security Scotland should also address fears that they were not a permanent organisation. Several voiced concerns that Social Security Scotland would only be operational for a number of years and would be incorporated into the DWP.

"The fear factor out there is still huge. Will all of my internal data that I give to Scotland be accessed by the DWP? Can we assure people that Scotland's powers will not get taken back from the UK government? A lot of people have this fear."

Creative information materials

A couple of participants wondered whether information about Social Security Scotland could be presented in more creative ways. They suggested that information about eligibility and accessing a benefit could be presented using pictures or cartoons. They felt that this would make the information appear less intimidating, and would be more likely to reach younger audiences.  

"What about putting information in a comic book? It could make it fun, not dry reading. Young people need things spoken in their language."

Contact

Email: SocialSecurityExperience@gov.scot

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