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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Agency error - under and overpayments

We asked focus group participants what Social Security Scotland should do when it had make a mistake, and either underpaid or overpaid a client.

Participants said that if Social Security Scotland realises it has underpaid a client, it should notify the client as quickly as possible, and pay them what is owed.

Participants also said that they would like Social Security Scotland to admit when it had made a mistake and paid the wrong amount.

"Pay what the client is due. This is needs to be done quickly."

"Admit the mistake and why a specific things went wrong – e.g. system failure."

Simliarly, participants thought Social Security Scotland needed to respond quickly when it realised it had overpaid a client.

Some also said that clients needed to be informed about the overpayment sensitively.

Over a third of survey respondents (37 per cent) felt that a clients who received a one-off grant should be expected to notice an overpayment of £100. Over a quarter (28 per cent) felt that figure was lower at £50.

Some focus group participants thought that a decimal place error in someone's payment should be noticeable (e.g. receiving £1000.00 rather than £100.00).

Others thought that a double payment would be noticeable.

"If someone was double paid. If the benefit went in twice. That would be noticeable. I imagine errors like this can happen."

However, many others did suggest that it would depend on the individual. They thought there was no single amount that should be considered noticeable.

"What's a reasonable person? Everyone is different. For people with learning difficulties or people who speak different languages, wrong payments may not always be easily noticeable."



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