Social Security Experience Panels: applications and access to support

This report outlines the Social Security Experience Panel members’ views expressed in a survey about what information about application progress Social Security Scotland should give and how Social Security Scotland should link them to other support.

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Panel members were asked about how they would want to receive information and updates about their application. Respondents highlighted the importance of offering a choice of communication channels, and that their preferred method of communication may depend both on their own circumstance on any day, and also on the topic of communication. For example, many respondents said they would prefer a form of written communication for information about decisions on their application, but may be more comfortable with other channels for more general updates about the progress of their application.

Many participants said that they would be likely to use online sources including the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) website, Citizens Advice Scotland website, or a search engine, to get information about the type of support that might be available to them. Others highlighted sources like advice services, third sector organisations, and health and social care services which may be contactable in person or over the phone.

Most participants said that they would want Social Security Scotland to tell them if there were other benefits or types of support that might be available to them from another organisation. In particular participants wanted to be told about other benefits, for example those delivered by DWP or local authorities, that might be available, other types of financial help they might be able to apply for, as well as information about wider entitlements such as the blue badge scheme, home energy support, and advocacy services. Participants were more divided on whether it would be valuable to provide information about other types of financial or debt advice, with some feeling that it could be helpful to share this information in a non-judgemental way, and others feeling that it could be stigmatising to do so.

Some respondents felt that they would want to be simply provided with this type of information, and be allowed to take any next steps themselves. Respondents who felt that way felt that it gave them control of the process and allowed them to make their own decisions. Others felt that they would prefer Social Security Scotland to take a more proactive role in referring them on to another service – through either actively supporting them to contact the organisation, or sharing their details with another organisation to contact them directly. Respondents said that this would help to make sure that they were supported to access the support that they needed.

Most respondents felt that they would want to hear information about other support available when they first contacted Social Security Scotland. This included through information leaflets or information online, or through an interactive form that could make suggestions. Others preferred getting information through a conversation with a staff member, either face-to-face, over the phone, or, in some cases, through web chat.



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