Social Security Experience Panels: change of circumstances and debt repayment - visual summary

This visual summary summarises the results from 10 focus groups and an online survey with Experience Panel members. The research explored how contact about changes of circumstances should work for clients of Social Security Scotland, along with how debt should be repaid.

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Contacting clients about changes of circumstances

Sometimes a client can experience changes of circumstances.

  • They might move house and change address
  • They might change their bank details
  • Their care needs might change
  • Their health or disability might change

Clients of Social Security Scotland are responsible for providing updates if their circumstances change.

We asked questions about how contact around changes of circumstances should work.

Half of survey respondents (50 per cent) said Social Security Scotland should ask them if their circumstances had changed once a year.

Several told us that some clients should be contacted more regularly about changes of circumstances than others. They felt this should depend on their personal circumstances.

Several also felt that clients should be able to decide how often they were asked about changes of circumstances.

6 in 10 survey respondents(59 per cent) said that they would not want to receive a separate reminder about reporting changes of circumstances.

Of those respondents who wanted a separate reminder, over half wanted to receive that reminder by post (51 per cent).

Over a third said that they would want to receive a separate reminder by email (35 per cent).

Participants agreed that they wanted information about reporting changes of circumstances to use clear and simple language.

Several said that they had been confused about what they needed to report in the past.

Some thought that a clear list of circumstances to report would be helpful. Others thought that examples would help.

"A precise list of instruction would be helpful. Plain English. No uncertainty. So people know exactly what is required of them."

"I would like to see information about change of circumstances much more detailed that it is now. When I was a carer for my mum, benefits were new to us. We didn't understand what changes we had to report."

Participants also said they wanted contact about change of circumstances to be more personal and more compassionate.

"You could offer a service to ring clients every 6 weeks to have a friendly chat about their circumstances. Although, it is so important that this would be a friendly ring just to check in, and ask whether everything is ok."

These participants described how reporting changes was stressful for clients. Some thought that if they reported changes they would be asked to go to a reassessment.

"It would be important to say that Social Security Scotland was not trying to trip people up. They have a general interest in human wellbeing."



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