Words used by Social Security Scotland
Words to avoid
Social Security Scotland want to ensure the words used to name benefits are clear, easy to understand and respectful. We asked respondents if there are any words Social Security Scotland should avoid using when naming a benefit. 141 of the 278 respondents answered this open text question. Respondents said that Social Security Scotland should avoid negative, stigmatising terms such as 'disabled', 'disability', 'benefit' and 'allowance. ' Words which segregate people should also be avoided.
"People with disabilities are people first and foremost so any name should reflect this. It is reductionist to have titles which reduce people to just this one set of characteristics. I think the titles should reflect accurately who and what the benefit is for."
"Disability, Allowance. Anything negative or patronising or segregating or disabling or stigmatising. The names should reflect their aim, which is to enable and to support."
Respondents also said that ambiguous words should be avoided. These can be misinterpreted and cause barriers to eligible people applying. Similarly, words should not imply that the benefit provides more than it does in reality.
Words to use
We asked respondents if there are any words Social Security Scotland should definitely use when naming a benefit. 134 of the 278 respondents answered this open text question. Respondents said that Social Security Scotland should use positive, neutral and empowering words such as 'assistance', 'payment' and 'support'. Words such as these were felt to highlight that people are entitled to the benefits, and that they are intended to give people 'autonomy' and 'independence.'
"Simple, matches reality of the payment."
"Stick to the positive and encouraging. Always give the impression that the agency is on the claimant's side."
"Definitely use positive words that give people a feeling of receiving something that they have every right to have. Words like 'payments', 'finances' and 'amounts'."
Respondents also said that short, simple words which are easy for everyone to understand are preferable. Names should be concise, direct and descriptive, for example, referring to explicit age ranges rather than 'older people' and 'working age'.
"Words which are easy and clear without being derogatory to the person or persons requiring the benefit."
"Make it absolutely clear what it is and who it is for. No complicated language."
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