Social Security Experience Panels: inclusive communication - visual summary

This visual summary outlines the results a survey and 9 focus groups with Experience Panel members, which asked about their views on various aspects of communication including applying for a benefit, getting help with an application and online information videos.

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Applying for a benefit

We asked respondents how they would be most likely to apply for a benefit from Social Security Scotland.

More than half of respondents said they would apply themselves (54 per cent).

Four in ten (40 per cent) said they would apply themselves but with some help from someone else.
Six per cent said they would get someone else to apply for them.

Method of Applying

Over half of respondents (53 per cent) said they would prefer to apply online using a computer, tablet or mobile phone.

One quarter (26 per cent) selected post using a paper form.

14 per cent said they would prefer to apply in person, whether through a home visit or at a Social Security Scotland venue.

6 per cent said they would apply over the phone.

We asked respondents why they would like to apply through their preferred method.

Online using a computer, mobile phone or using a tablet

Respondents who preferred to apply online using a computer said that it was quicker, easier and more convenient.

"It is fast, convenient and flexible as it can be done at home."

"Will be received quicker than posting a form. Hopefully will be dealt with quicker."

Some respondents felt that applying online reduced the chance of an application going missing.

Other respondents said that online was an easier way for them to apply because they are familiar with online applications.

"Applying online you get a received reply from the recipient letting you know they have your message and will be in touch soon. Cuts out postage and possible loss or mishandling of documentation and also saves time and money for everyone."

Many respondents said that applying online is more accessible for them due to their disability or health condition.

Some of these respondents explained that they adjust their device settings to suit their needs, or that they use assistive technology.

"I am visually impaired and need assistive technology to access day to day information if it is available electronically."

"I have mobility problems and this is why I would prefer to do this online. I have difficulty getting to a post office to post forms

Many respondents said they would apply online because they could take their time with the application. Others said that it would allow them to edit the application form more easily.

Post using a paper form

Most respondents said a paper form allowed them to take their time with the application. This included taking breaks, having time to think about their answers and checking it over.

"I want time to look at the questions, sometimes going through these in a different order than list. With fatigue I need to be able to pick it up and put it down in my own pace and time, and not feel pressured as other forms make me, i.e. online in any form, or to feel pressured to verbally answer to someone over the phone."

Other reasons for preferring to apply using a paper form included:

It can be easily copied and stored for personal records.

Not having access to or being comfortable using technology to apply online.

It feels more reliable and secure than other methods.

It makes it easy to get help from others.

"If it is a paper form I can pick it up and put it down as and when pain/discomfort dictates."

"With so many online scams and data being illegally accessed if an application arrives by post you know it to be genuine."

"Using post I can have a record of when I posted and what it said."

"It does not rely on an internet connection."

In person through a home visit or at a Social Security Scotland location

Respondents who preferred to apply in person gave a range of reasons. The most common reason was because they have limited mobility.

Other respondents said that they would prefer to apply face to face. These respondents felt that staff would be able to explain the form and answer any questions.

Others said that they found it difficult to explain their circumstances in writing. A few said they would feel more at ease and less stressed applying in their own home.

"I prefer speaking to people, I sometimes struggle to write on forms with what I mean whereas I can communicate it better."

"Difficulty in leaving house due to disability and writing is illegible therefore a home visit from a member of staff would be easier for me."

"I would prefer to see someone to check over my form and ensure I am completing it correctly and also to ask questions if I am stuck with parts of the form."

"The forms can be confusing and trying to get help via the phone is a nightmare.

Being able to apply with someone sitting there with you would help to lessen some of the stress."


Respondents who preferred to apply over the phone said that they prefer speaking to someone. This included having the chance to speak to Social Security Scotland staff and ask any questions.

Some respondents felt that applying over the phone is also easier and quicker.

"It is being able to speak to a person and not having to worry if it has been completed correctly."

A few respondents said that their disability or health condition means that it is not possible to apply through other methods.

"Being visually impaired I find form filling almost impossible."

Overall, around two thirds of respondents (67 per cent) said their disability influences how they would like to apply.

Reasons for not using online methods

We asked respondents who did not choose an online method what, if anything, put them off from applying online.

Nearly half of respondents (48 per cent) said they don't feel comfortable submitting personal data online.

Over four in ten (42 per cent) said that applying online feels impersonal.

Around one third (34 per cent) said they need help from someone else because of their disability.

Three in ten (30 percent) said that they don't feel confident using computers.

Some respondents said 'another reason' put them off applying online:

"I want extra time and not to have to apply all in one sitting."

"Something going wrong so info is lost while completing."

"I can only use library computers for one hour at a time. Sometimes I can't remember my library number and pin code."

"I can't keep a copy of what I've submitted. That means I worry about it being lost or if it is referred to I can't always remember what I said."

Other respondents said they do not have a good broadband or mobile signal or enough mobile data.

Some said they cannot afford to use internet at home or their nearest internet location is too far away.

We asked those respondents where they would like to go to apply online.

Four in ten (40 per cent) said they would prefer a Social Security Scotland worker to come to their home.

Just over two in ten (22 per cent) said the library or a Social Security Scotland building.

Other respondents said they would like to go to a friend or family member, or Citizens Advice Bureau to apply online. Some said that they did not want to apply online.



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