Social Security Experience Panels - re-determinations and appeals, fraud and special measures for COVID-19: main report

Provides an overview of findings from research exploring panel members’ views on proposed changes (enhanced administration powers) to aspects of Social Security Scotland’s systems and processes regarding re-determinations, appeals, fraud, and special measures for late re-determinations, appeals and applications.

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Findings at a glance

  • The research with Social Security Experience Panels members involved a total of 5 focus groups and 35 individual interviews with 61 research participants. The second stage of the research consisted of a survey with 340 Social Security Scotland's Client Panels members.

Re-determinations and appeals

  • Most participants highlighted that clients may want to withdraw a re- determination request as the process is felt to be stressful and/or intimidating.
  • Some participants expressed a concern that people may withdraw a request if placed under pressure by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Social Security Scotland. This was based on a few describing previous experiences in which DWP staff pressured clients to withdraw their appeal.
  • Some participants who agreed with the proposal to stop an appeal process if a mistake has been made and a new determination award is offered said it would save time and money for the clients and all the parties involved.
  • Most participants agreed that a new award decision should only be offered if it would give the client everything that they could get from the tribunal.
  • Many participants stated that the choice to appeal should remain after a client receives information about their new award.

Alternatives to prosecution for low-value fraud

  • Several participants noted that the complexity of forms can be a barrier to understanding what a person needed to do when their circumstances change.
  • The most common reasons suggested as a reasonable excuse for not notifying of a change in circumstances related to the impact of significant life events or crises.
  • Most participants wanted to see some nuance around how alternatives to prosecution were used. They suggested that this would be more suitable for cases of low-value and unintentional fraud.

Special measures for late re-determinations, appeals and applications

  • Many participants agreed that it was the right time to stop the COVID-19 measures for late re-determinations and applications, as they felt that there was no longer as high a risk from the pandemic.
  • Some participants disagreed that the measures should now be stopped, citing the continuing health risks of the virus.
  • Some participants suggested a client or a member of their family being ill should be a good reason for a late application, including for mental health reasons.

Reasons for late applications

  • The majority of survey respondents (84 per cent) felt that an applicant being seriously ill to the extent where their normal life and ability to carry out tasks is considerably impacted was a good reason for allowing late benefit applications.
  • 65 per cent of respondents noted that a close family member of an applicant being seriously ill was a good reason for late applications.
  • Most survey respondents (82 per cent) said that an applicant having to wait for supporting information to be supplied by someone else to aid their application constituted a good reason for Social Security Scotland accepting late applications.



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