Publication - Research and analysis

Social Security experience panels: others speaking to Social Security Scotland for clients - main report

Published: 17 Aug 2020

Outlines the Social Security experience panel's views expressed in a survey on the process for someone else being able to contact Social Security Scotland on behalf of a client.

Social Security experience panels: others speaking to Social Security Scotland for clients - main report
Summary

Summary

Over half of respondents (54 per cent) had no experience of someone else contacting an organisation on their behalf, compared to over four in ten (45 per cent) who did.

We asked respondents what went well about the experience. The most common response was that they felt that those who spoke on their behalf were in a better position to liaise with the organisation in question. For some, this was because they thought the person speaking for them knew more about the benefits system. Or they felt they were better at communicating key points and dealing with any challenges. Some respondents said that someone else speaking on their behalf also helped relieve some of the stress and anxiety of contacting an organisation. Other respondents said they got the result they hoped for or that the organisation made it easy for someone else to speak on their behalf.

We asked respondents what could have gone better about their experience of someone contacting an organisation on their behalf. The most common response was that they felt the process of nominating and verifying the person they wished to speak for them could have been made easier and quicker.

Eight in ten respondents (80 per cent) said they thought they might, at some point, want someone else to be able to speak to Social Security Scotland on their behalf. 16 per cent said they would always want this, just under half of respondents (49 per cent) said they would sometimes want this, and 15 per cent said they would rarely want this. Just over one in ten respondents (12 per cent) said they would never want someone else to be able to speak to Social Security Scotland on their behalf.

Of respondents who said they would never want someone else to be able to speak to Social Security Scotland on their behalf, two thirds (66 per cent) said they would not need it. Under three in ten (28 per cent) said they would not feel comfortable. No respondents said they would not know who to ask.

Of respondents who said they would want someone else to speak on their behalf, just under eight in ten (79 per cent) said they would want a professional supporter (e.g. support worker, advocate, Citizen's Advice Bureau, local authority worker) to speak for them. Seven in ten respondents (72 per cent) said they would want a friend or family member to speak to Social Security Scotland. Just under two thirds (65 per cent) said they would want a medical professional to do it.

Just under nine in ten of those same respondents said they would want the person contacting Social Security Scotland on their behalf to support with a redetermination or appeal (88 per cent). Around eight in ten said they would want the person to seek an explanation of a decision (81 per cent) or get help with an application (79 per cent). Two thirds (66 per cent) said they would want the person to have any ongoing contact with Social Security Scotland on their behalf.

Combined, around four in ten respondents (44 per cent) said they would want to let Social Security Scotland know that they were happy with someone else speaking on their behalf through an online method (computer, mobile phone or tablet). This was followed by 18 per cent of respondents who said telephone, and 16 per cent who selected post using a paper form. One in ten respondents (10 per cent) said they would like to tell Social Security Scotland in person during a home visit, whilst only 3 per cent said they would like to do so in person at a Social Security Scotland location.

Just under half of respondents (49 per cent) said the kind of information that they would want being shared would not be different depending on who the representative was. Just under three in ten (29 per cent) said it would be different. Around one fifth (22 per cent) said they did not know.

Respondents who said the information would be different depending on who their representative was or that they did not know, said it very much depended on the representative, individual relationships, the situation and information being discussed. Respondents who said that the information would not be different depending on who the representative was mostly said that they would trust the representative, the information would already be known to the person or that it was necessary and in their best interests that they did.

Over eight in ten respondents (86 per cent) said they would feel comfortable with Social Security Scotland discussing their benefits with someone else in an emergency.

In an emergency, most respondents said they would be happy for Social Security Scotland to discuss information about the emergency (85 per cent), information about their application (70 per cent), and information to support a claim (78 per cent).

We asked respondents if there is anything else they would like to say about other people contacting Social Security Scotland on their behalf. Most respondents said that it is important for strict confidentiality safeguards to be in place, with Social Security Scotland only speaking to others with a client's consent and approval. These respondents felt that information about the process and remit of other people speaking to Social Security Scotland on behalf of a client should be clear and accessible. Some respondents said that it would be important for Social Security Scotland to record and regularly review who could speak to them on behalf a client.


Contact

Email: Socialsecurityexperience@gov.scot