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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Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance (AA) is currently delivered by the DWP. It is a benefit for people aged over 65 and is designed to help with the extra costs of living if they have a disability severe enough to need someone else to help look after them.

Attendance Allowance – Likes

We asked respondents what they liked about the name Attendance Allowance. 167 of the 278 respondents answered this open text question. Of those respondents who provided a positive comment, most liked that the name Attendance Allowance is simple, short, concise and memorable. They also liked that it is familiar and easily recognisable and does not include the word 'disability'. Many respondents said that the name is 'fine' or 'ok' but did not provide any further information about why they thought this. The name Attendance Allowance did not provoke as polarized responses as the other names did.

"No use of either words disability or benefit."

"Easy to remember/recognise!"

"It is a long standing name that people are familiar with and understand."

"It's discrete, and serves its purpose."

"It is concise, it says what it is and to the point."

"Short, simple, accurate."

Attendance Allowance – Dislikes

We asked respondents what they disliked about the name Attendance Allowance. 160 of the 278 respondents answered this open text question. For those who provided a positive comment, a number of themes were identified.

Unclear, particularly 'attendance'

Most respondents said they disliked that the name Attendance Allowance is not clear regarding what the benefit is for and who is entitled to it. Respondents described it as being 'vague', 'ambiguous' and 'confusing'. Many respondents did not know what the payment is for.

"The name makes little to no sense."

"It doesn't actually describe what it's for and who can claim it."

"It could mean anything."

This confusion is seen to be particularly prominent when it came to the word 'attendance'. Some respondents were not sure what 'attendance' means. Others said that the term suggests that the recipient has to 'attend somewhere.'

"Sounds like you need to attend something or go somewhere."

"It suggests the claimant has to 'attend' something which is misleading."

Respondents also said that 'attendance' could suggest that the recipient has to be 'attended' to by another person at all times, rather than provided with assistance or support. For this reason, some respondents said that the name is confusing because it may imply that the payment is for a carer rather than recipient. They felt that it is not clear that the payment can be used for items and services of the individual's choice and does not have to involve employing someone to 'attend' to them.

"The name has very negative overtones, it suggests that the looked after person needs the constant presence of another."

"To me it equates to a person that needs attending to, rather than assistance or support."

"It doesn't say what it's for, it could be paid to anyone. It sounds like it is a carer's allowance not a payment for the disabled person."

For these reasons, a few respondents noted that people may not perceive themselves to be eligible and may face difficulties when seeking information.

"It sounds vague. Anyone searching for this type of benefit might overlook it or misinterpret its meaning."

"It in no way describes what it is, many people would have no idea they can claim it."

"Probably a lot of people think you cannot claim and live on your own."

"It is misleading as the person does not have to have someone caring or attending to them for them to receive it."

Additional themes

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:

"It sounds outdated and allowance sounds like it's a handout like pocket money."

"Sounds old fashioned and not clear of meaning."

A few respondents simply described Attendance Allowance as being a negative name:

"Sounds dehumanizing."

"Sounds impersonal."

"I think that this name is demeaning."



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