Experience panels: complaints, re-determination and appeals

This report summarises the results of two surveys and seven focus groups on the feedback and complaints process for Social Security Scotland.

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Next Steps

These findings are being used to develop and continually improve robust systems for feedback and complaints. It is also helping to develop the policy and process for people challenging a decision on their benefit application through either Social Security Scotland's re-determinations system, or through appeal at tribunal. This feedback – along with ongoing user research – has shaped these processes and will continue to do so.

Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland have been listening to what people have said about how feedback, complaints and challenges to a decision are dealt with. The Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 (the 2018 Act) provides a number of rights for individuals when challenging their benefit decision. For example the 2018 Act contains express provisons that where an individual had not been able to make their request for a re-determination within the timescales they will have up to 1 year from the date of their original determination to make the request if they had a good reason. Where the late request is refused by Social Security Scotland, the individual will be able to appeal to the tribunal service who will make a decsion. This right is not available in the current system. Furthermore, the 2018 Act contains provisons to pay Short-term Assistance where a contuning benefit is reduced or stopped and that decsion is subject to a challenge to ensure the individual is not prevented from challenging a descion whilst having to manage with a reduced income during that process. The Scottish Government has designed its processes that are grounded in the principles of dignity, fairness and respect and has been clear that people will have a right to challenge decsions and that Social Security Scotland will do all it can to help individuals.

Work is also underway with stakeholders and users to develop letters and forms that are in plain language so that they are not a barrier that prevents people engaging with their complaint, re-determination or appeal. The Scottish Government will continue to test, adapt and improve as we better understand the needs of the people who will use Social Security Scotland.

The Scottish Government will continue to work with the Experience Panels in the development of Scotland's new social security system. This will include further research on individual benefits in addition to other work to assist in the development of Social Security Scotland.


Email: Catherine Henry

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