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

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.

This document is part of a collection

Background and research methods

The Scottish Government is becoming responsible for some of the benefits currently delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions.

As part of the work to prepare for this change, the Scottish Government set up the Social Security Experience Panels. People from across Scotland who have recent experience of at least one of the benefits coming to Scotland were eligible to join. Over 2,400 people registered as Experience Panel members when it was launched in 2017. The Scottish Government is working with Experience Panel members to design a new social security system that works for the people of Scotland, based on the principles of dignity, fairness and respect.

In this research project, we sought Experience Panel members' views on someone else being able to contact Social Security Scotland on behalf of a client. At the moment, adults with incapacity can have an appointee or guardian contact Social Security Scotland on their behalf. Alongside this, the Scottish Government are also putting in place funded advocates. Advocates will be available to contact Social Security Scotland on behalf of disabled people.[1]

However, there are many people who don't have an appointee, guardian or advocate. These people may also want someone else to contact Social Security Scotland on their behalf. This could be a professional, for example, a doctor, nurse, support worker or welfare officer. It could also be a personal friend, a relative, or a neighbour. This option could be open to clients for any kind of communication with Social Security Scotland.

We used a survey to ask Experience Panel members their experiences and views on:

  • Whether they would feel comfortable with someone else being able to contact Social Security Scotland on their behalf.
  • What they would want someone else to contact Social Security Scotland about.
  • How to give their permission for someone to contact Social Security Scotland on their behalf.

This report details the findings and key themes that emerged from this survey with Experience Panel members.

Respondents were recruited from the Scottish Government Experience Panels. All Experience Panel members were invited to take part in the survey. The Social Security Experience Panels are a longitudinal research project. The panels are made up of volunteers from the Scottish population who have relevant experience. The results of this work should be regarded as being reflective of the experience and views of the participants only, and are not indicative of the views of a wider Scottish population. Percentages are given only to show a broad sense of the balance of opinion across participants.

Survey method

Information from the survey was added to information from the 'About Your Benefits and You'[2] and 'Social Security Experience Panels: Who is in the panels and their experiences so far'[3] surveys. The demographic data collected in these surveys was linked to the information supplied by respondents of this survey as part of the longitudinal data set for the wider Experience Panels project. Demographic data was only available for around half of survey respondents. This is because participation in our About You surveys is voluntary and not all panel members have responded and provided us with their demographic information. In addition, some demographic data which was recently collected for newly registered Experience Panel members was also not yet available at the time of writing. The following demographic information is given to provide context to the findings from the survey.

One third of respondents who we have demographic information for identified as 'man or boy' (34 per cent) and two thirds (66 per cent) identified as 'woman or girl'.

Table 1: Gender of survey respondents (n=146)
Gender %
Woman or girl 66
Man or boy 34
Total 100

Half of respondents were aged 45 to 59 (50 per cent) and over one third were aged 60 to 79 (36 per cent). 14 per cent of respondents were aged between 25 and 44.

Table 2: Age of survey respondents (n=146)
Age %
Under 25 0
25 - 44 14
45 - 59 50
60 - 79 36
80 or over 1
Total 101

Under nine in ten respondents (87 per cent) had a disability or long term health condition.

Table 3: Disability status of respondents (n=147)
Disability status
Disabled 87
Not disabled 14
Total 101

Six in ten respondents had a physical disability (62 per cent) or chronic pain (62 per cent). One third had a mental health condition (33 per cent) and around one in ten had a severe hearing impairment (13 per cent). Under one in ten had a severe visual impairment (five per cent) or a learning disability (eight per cent). Six in ten told us they had some other kind of disability or long term health condition (61 per cent)

Table 4: Disability types of respondents (n=147) [4]
Disability Types %
Has a physical disability 62
Has chronic pain 62
Has a mental health condition 33
Has a severe hearing impairment 13
Has a severe visual impairment 5
Has a learning disability 8
Has another kind of disability or long term health condition 61

Around four in ten respondents (44 per cent) said they were a carer.

Table 5: Caring status of respondents (n=146)
Caring status %
Carer 44
Not a carer 55
Prefer not to say 1
Total 100

Of survey respondents who said they were a carer, 75 per cent cared for an adult friend or relative. One third were a carer due to old age (36 per cent). Two in ten cared for a disabled child (20 per cent).

Table 6: Who do respondents care for? (n=64)
Care status %
Cares for an adult 75
Cares for a child 20
Carer due to old age 36

Survey respondents took part from 28 of 32 local authority areas in Scotland. The majority lived in an urban area (82 per cent).[5]

Table 7: Location of respondents (n=135)
Location %
Urban 82
Rural 19
Total 101

Survey respondents who took part had experience of claiming or helping someone else to claim a wide range of benefits. The most common benefits claimed by survey respondents were Personal Independence Payment (65 per cent) and Disability Living Allowance (59 per cent). The least common benefits claimed were for Funeral Expenses (six per cent) and Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit (one per cent).

Table 8: Respondents benefit experience (n=233) [6]
Benefit %
Personal Independence Payment 65
Disability Living Allowance 59
Carer's Allowance 31
Cold Weather Payment 31
Winter Fuel Payment 32
Discretionary Housing Payment 26
Scottish Welfare Fund 19
Attendance Allowance 18
Universal Credit 18
Severe Disablement Allowance 13
Funeral Expenses 6
Sure Start Maternity Grant 24
Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit 1

More detailed demographic information on the Experience Panels as a whole can be found in 'Social Security Experience Panels: Who is in the panels and their experiences so far.'[7]



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