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Social Security Experience Panels: disability benefit names

Social Security Experience Panels members' views on renaming disability benefits when they are transferred from the UK Department for Work and Pensions to Social Security Scotland.

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Summary

DWP Disability Benefit Names

First the survey asked what Experience Panel members liked and disliked about the existing DWP disability benefit names, with open text boxes to respond. Respondents used both questions to provide comments about they liked and disliked about the names. Therefore not all the responses to the question asking Experience Panel members what they liked about a particular name, for example, were positive.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Children

The most common thing that respondents said they liked about the name DLA for Children was that it is clear, self-explanatory and familiar. They liked that it is descriptive, stating what and who the benefit is for. Some respondents liked the word 'children' as it shows that the benefit is intended to support the child. Some respondents also said that the word 'living' is positive as it acknowledges that having a disability or health condition results in extra living costs for individuals and families.

The most common thing that respondents said they disliked about the name DLA for Children was that it includes the word 'disability'. These respondents felt that the term is not inclusive because it focuses on the disability rather than the individual. They described it as being potentially discriminatory and stigmatising, particularly for those who do not like or identify with the term 'disability.' Some respondents felt the word labels and segregates people, and that this is particularly problematic in relation to children and young people.

Many respondents also disliked the word 'allowance'. This term was also seen to hold negative connotations. Respondents felt that it suggests a 'hand out', 'pocket money' or 'gifted sum of money' rather than a fundamental right or basic entitlement. They described it as contributing to stigma, reinforcing a notion of 'dependency'.

Some respondents said that the name DLA for Children is 'old-fashioned', 'out of date' and 'punitive'. A few respondents said that any benefits names used by the DWP held negative associations for them.

Some respondents said that it is not clear which age group the benefit applies to because it only refers to 'children'. This is seen to be excluding to teenagers and other young people.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

The most common thing respondents said they liked about the name PIP was that it refers to 'personal independence.' Respondents said that the word 'independence' focuses on ability rather than disability and makes clear that the financial payment is used to help an individual to live independently. Some respondents said that the word 'personal' suggests autonomy and decision making in how to use the payment, which can be tailored to individual circumstances and needs. 'Personal' was also seen by some to indicate that the payment is for an individual and is not affected by other family members' circumstances and resources.

Many respondents said they liked that PIP does not refer to 'disability' and noted that it feels more inclusive, positive and neutral.

Some respondents also liked that the name PIP is short and can be easily shortened to an appropriate acronym. They described it as easy to use, say and easily remembered. Some respondents said that PIP is self-explanatory and described it as 'clear' 'simple' and 'easy to understand.'

The most common thing respondents said they disliked about the name PIP was the past, negative associations of the benefit as administered by the DWP. Some respondents highlighted the public reputation of PIP and said the name carries 'negativity', 'stigma' and a 'bad reputation.' Other respondents said the name provoked negative memories of claiming the benefit. These respondents disliked the name PIP because of the experiences associated with the benefit, rather than the words in the name itself.

Whilst respondents who liked the name PIP mostly said this was because it refers to 'personal independence', those who disliked the name said that these words were problematic because it may not be reflective of reality or achievable for some people. A small number of respondents said the purpose and eligibility of PIP was unclear from the name alone.

Attendance Allowance

The most common thing respondents said they liked about the name Attendance Allowance was that it is simple, short, concise and memorable. They also liked that it is familiar and easily recognisable. Some respondents noted that they liked that it is neutral and does not include potentially offensive terms such as 'disability'. Many respondents said that the name is 'fine' or 'ok' but did not provide any further information about why they thought this.

The most common thing respondents said they disliked about the name 'Attendance Allowance', was that it is not explicitly clear on what the benefit is for and who is entitled to it. Respondents described it as being 'vague', 'ambiguous' and 'confusing'.

In particular, many respondents felt that the word 'attendance' is unclear. Some respondents said that it suggests that the recipient has to 'attend somewhere', whilst others felt that the name implies that the recipient has be 'attended' to by another person at all times.

For these reasons, some respondents said that it might be unclear that the payment can be used for items and services of the individual's choosing and does not have to involve employing someone to 'attend' to them. Some respondents said that the name might suggest that the payment is for a carer. A few respondents noted that many people may not perceive themselves to be eligible for Attendance Allowance and may face difficulties when seeking information about the benefit.

A small number of respondents said that the name is outdated, particularly due to the problems outlined with the term 'allowance'. Respondents also disliked the previous associations with the DWP.

Social Security Scotland proposed benefit names

The survey then asked what Experience Panel members liked about each proposed new Social Security Scotland disability benefit name, with text boxes to respond.

The most common response was that they liked that the proposed new names include the word 'assistance.' Respondents felt this was more inclusive and positive than the existing term 'allowance', which was said to hold negative connotations of 'dependency' and 'charity' rather than a fundamental right and entitlement. Many respondents also described the new names as being clear and self-explanatory and liked the consistent naming across all three forms of disability assistance. Some respondents felt the names sounded more 'supportive' and 'positive' than the existing names.

The survey then asked what Experience Panel members disliked about each proposed new Social Security Scotland disability benefit name, with text boxes to respond.

The most common thing respondents disliked about the proposed new names was that they include the words 'disability', 'working age' and 'older'. Respondents felt that these words are not inclusive. As above, 'disability' was felt to be potentially offensive and discriminatory, labelling people who do not like or identify with the term. Some respondents said the word does not encompass all long term illnesses, hidden disabilities or mental health conditions and so could potentially introduce a barrier to claiming the benefit for people who are eligible but would not describe themselves as 'disabled'.

Some respondents noted that 'children and young people', and 'older people' are vague and subjective terms, and suggested that explicit age ranges should be specified. Many respondents also described their dislike of the word 'older people' and felt this could be discriminatory.

Similarly, most respondents disliked the word 'working age people.' Respondents described it as ambiguous, inaccurate and misleading. They pointed out that the benefit is intended to pay for the additional costs of living with a disability or health condition, and is not linked to an individual's ability to work. 'Working age' was also considered problematic because many disabled individuals are unable to work. Some respondents described it as 'offensive' and 'negative' to be reminded of this, as the name suggests that recipients should be working when often they do not have a choice.

Most respondents preferred the word 'assistance' over 'allowance' but a few respondents still found the term problematic. These respondents felt it may imply practical assistance rather than a financial payment which could be misleading.

Many respondents also said that the proposed new names are too long and do not allow for easy to use acronyms.

Some respondents expressed concern that changing the names of devolved benefits would cause unnecessary confusion for future Social Security Scotland clients, particularly when seeking information.

Some respondents said that they liked or disliked the proposed names but did not provide any reasons as to why.

Preference

The survey then asked respondents which they name they preferred, each new name or 'something else.'

Around four in ten respondents were in favour of the name Disability Assistance for Children and Young People (42 per cent). Almost six in ten respondents would prefer something else (58 per cent). Of those who would prefer something else, six per cent said it should remain called Disability Living Allowance for Children. This accounted for three per cent of all responses.

Less than three in ten respondents were in favour of the name Disability Assistance for Working Age People (27 per cent). Around seven in ten respondents would prefer something else (73 per cent). Of those who would prefer something else, 19 per cent said it should remain called Personal Independence Payment. This accounted for 13 per cent of all responses.

One third of respondents were in favour of the name Disability Assistance for Older People (33 per cent). Around two thirds of respondents would prefer something else (67 per cent). Of those who would prefer something else, 20 per cent said it should remain called Attendance Allowance. This accounted for 11 per cent of all responses.

Words Social Security Scotland should use and avoid

The survey asked respondents if there are any words Social Security Scotland should use or avoid using when naming a benefit.

Respondents said that Social Security Scotland should use words which are short, simple, concise and descriptive and that benefit names should accurately reflect their purpose.

It was also felt that Social Security Scotland should use positive, neutral, inclusive and empowering language. Respondents highlighted words such as 'assistance', 'payment' and 'support.' Words such as these were said to highlight that people are entitled to assistance, and it is intended to give people 'autonomy' and 'independence.'

Respondents said that Social Security Scotland should avoid stigmatising and discriminatory words which label and segregate those in receipt of disability assistance. Respondents highlighted words such as 'disabled', 'disability', 'benefit' and 'allowance'.

Other name changes

The survey introduced some proposed new staff titles for Social Security Scotland and asked respondents to describe what they liked and disliked about them. The survey also asked respondents what they liked and disliked about the current DWP name decision makers.

Decision Makers

The most common thing respondents said they liked about the name 'decision makers' was that it is clear, unambiguous and descriptive. It was felt that the name accurately describes the role of decision makers and distinguishes them from other staff who they may interact with.

The most common thing respondents said they disliked about the name decision makers was that it suggests an imbalance of power in favour of the decision maker. These respondents described it as feeling 'authoritarian' and 'judgmental'. Some respondents also felt the name implies a finality of the decision made by decision makers and said that it evokes memories of negative experiences and interactions with them in the past.

Case Managers

Most respondents simply said that they liked the name case managers or that they preferred it to decision makers. Many respondents also described the name as feeling more personal and supportive, and said that it suggests less of a power imbalance between the individual and the case manager. Some respondents said that the name suggests that the case manager would be responsible for an individual's case through the entirety of the application process and so would be familiar with the case and act as a single point of contact.

Many respondents said they disliked that the name case managers appears to reduce individual people to 'cases' who need to be 'managed.' Some respondents said the name is vague and that it is not clear from the title if they are the people responsible for making the decisions on applications. A few respondents also highlighted that case manager is a term used by other services and professions, principally social work, and that this might be confusing. Some respondents noted that the name is misleading if a case manager will not be responsible for managing individual cases through the entire process or act as a single point of contact for applicants.

Specialist Advisors

Respondents said they liked that the name specialist advisors includes the word 'specialist', stating that it suggests that a suitably qualified individual with specialist knowledge and expertise will be advising on decisions. Respondents found this reassuring.

Respondents said they disliked that the name specialist advisors is vague and unclear. Specifically, respondents said that the word 'specialist' does not specify what advisors specialise in or make clear what their qualifications and experiences are. Respondents assumed that specialist advisors would be health professionals with a medical background. Some felt that medical titles should therefore be used in the name.

Professional Advisors

Respondents simply said that the name professional advisors is 'fine' and a few said that they preferred it to specialist advisors but did not say why. Like the word 'specialist', many respondents said they liked that the word 'professional' denotes knowledge and expertise.

Respondents said that they disliked that the name professional advisors is broad and vague. Some respondents felt that the word 'professional' does not necessarily indicate expertise, qualifications or specialist knowledge in health conditions and said that it describes a quality or behaviour rather than a job role or function. Some respondents also said that they expect all Social Security Scotland staff to be professional. Some respondents said professional advisors sounds 'formal' and 'corporate.'

Contact

Email: socialsecurityexperience@gov.scot

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