Social Security Experience Panels: designing the benefits case transfer process

Panels' views expressed in interviews and a survey on benefits case transfer process from UK Government Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to Social Security Scotland.

This document is part of a collection

Contact throughout the case transfer process

We asked participants and respondents who they thought should contact clients to tell them about their case transfer. Almost three quarters of survey respondents said Social Security Scotland should contact clients about their case transfer (73 per cent.) Just over 2 in 10 respondents said sometimes Social Security Scotland, sometimes DWP (22 per cent) whilst 5 per cent of respondents said DWP should contact clients to tell them about their case transfer.

Table 12: Who should contact clients (n=556)

Social Security Scotland 73
Sometimes Social Security Scotland, sometimes DWP 22

For respondents that had selected 'sometimes Social Security Scotland, sometimes DWP', we asked them why they had chosen this option. A popular reason for selecting this option was that many people would be unaware of Social Security Scotland so having letters from both would legitimise the agency:

"The DWP initially so we know it's genuine. Some people won't know about Scotland taking over certain benefits and may ignore the letters from you or think they're a scam."

Many respondents spoke of how both Social Security Scotland and the DWP are responsible for the transfer so would like to here from both agencies:

"I'd like to hear from both so I know the case transfer process is working from both sides"

Survey respondents also spoke of how they would like to receive contact from both agencies in case of any errors:

"That way it would be both parties involved informing of the change and would be harder to slip through the net."

In interviews, participants echoed the views of survey respondents. Similar to the point about Social Security Scotland being an unfamiliar agency, participants said it would depend on the stage of the transfer whether or not letters came from Social Security Scotland or DWP. Many expressed the view that initial contact should come from DWP and contact closer to the transfer should come from Social Security Scotland.

We asked Experience Panel members if they think they would have to contact anyone when they received any of the letters about their case transfer. Responses were fairly split with just over half of respondents saying yes (57 per cent) and the other 43 per cent saying they would.

Table 13: Contact after questions (n=554)

Yes 57
No 43

We asked respondents and participants who they would want to contact. The most common response was Social Security Scotland. Other popular points of contact included:

  • Whoever the letter came from. Many said they would contact whoever the letter came from, either DWP or Social Security Scotland;
  • DWP;
  • Citizen's Advice Bureau;
  • A client's advocate; and
  • A client's social worker.

In both the survey and interviews, many expressed the desire for a named person to be assigned to their case. Panel members spoke of their past experiences struggling to find the correct person to speak to and suggested a person allocated to their case would help them find answers to their questions. Participants in interviews spoke in depth about the frustrations of having to repeat themselves to various different people. They spoke about the need for ownership of their case.

Looking for information about their transfer

We asked panel members where they would go to find an answer to a question they may have about their transfer. The most popular option was to contact Social Security Scotland direct with almost 9 in 10 respondents selecting this option (89 per cent.) Just over half of respondents said they would go online to find an answer (55 per cent.) The least popular option was contacting DWP direct, with just over a quarter of panel members saying they would do this to find an answer (27 per cent.)

Table 14: Respondents preferences for finding information (n=554)

Yes (%) No (%)
Contact Social Security Scotland direct 89 11
Look online 55 45
Contact an advice service such as Citizens Advice Scotland 32 68
Contact DWP direct 27 73

Some respondents gave alternative answers to this question. These included independent benefit advisors, welfare rights organisations, MPs and MSPs, carer's organisations, advocates and family and friends.

In interviews, participants spoke of the importance of having publically displayed information about the case transfer process. Suggestions included having information in public spaces like community centres, doctor surgeries and libraries.

Alternative modes of contact

We asked panel members if they would like to be contacted about their case transfer in another way alongside a letter. Survey respondents were fairly split with around half saying they would like to be contacted via text (52 per cent) whilst the other half said they would not (48 per cent.)

Table 15: Contact via text (n=467)

Yes 52
No 48

We also asked survey respondents if they would like to be contacted through email. Just over 8 in 10 respondents said yes (83 per cent) whilst 17 per cent said no.

Table 16: Contact via email (n=539)

Yes 83
No 17

In interviews, participants were generally open to the idea of being contacted through email. However, concerns were raised over those who do not have access to the internet and participants were still keen for the vast majority of information to come through post. Some participants emphasised that contact through paper was best as it kept a record that they could later use for proof.

Participants spoke about the usefulness of an online service that could provide clients with information about their transfer. Some spoke of a personalised portal, where you could sign in online and track your case as well as report any problems.

Concerns over technology and an electronic transfer were present throughout survey and interview. Many expressed fears that their information and data may not be secure and referred to previous examples of government bodies mishandling information. Panel members in many instances were of the view that testing the system was key in order for the case transfer process to run smoothly.



Back to top