Information

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


Sharing information

We told respondents there are certain kinds of information that Social Security Scotland would never share with anyone other than the client themselves due to General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). This means that, even if someone had a client's permission to talk to Social Security Scotland on their behalf, the following information about the client would never be discussed with that person:

  • Addresses
  • Dates of birth
  • National insurance numbers
  • Bank details
  • Telephone numbers
  • Names of household members
  • Names of employers or former employers

What information should be shared

We asked respondents if there was any other kind of information they would not want shared between Social Security Scotland and someone making contact on their behalf. Most respondents said no, or left responses related to the categories provided above. Some respondents explained that they trusted anyone they asked to speak on their behalf with their personal information.

"Anyone that was acting on my behalf would have my full confidence to respect any information as personal and would not use any such information to my detriment."

A few respondents questioned how someone else could speak to Social Security Scotland on their behalf without discussing or verifying the information above.

"If I've given permission, would they not need some of the items listed above to be sure it was my account they were discussing?"

"I find it difficult to understand how anyone could conduct business on my behalf if the above details could not be discussed."

On the other hand, some respondents said they would not want any medical information such as disability, health condition or medication shared between Social Security Scotland and someone making contact on their behalf. Others said they would not want information about their religion or ethnicity shared, or financial information about the benefits they are receiving.

Some respondents said that the kind of information they would not want shared between Social Security Scotland and someone making contact on their behalf depended on who was making the contact for them.

"Depending on who it was, they may well have this information already."

"It depends on who is representing me and how much I trusted them."

Effect of who representative is

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 did. Around one fifth (22 per cent) said they did not know.

Table 15: Would the kind of information that you would want being shared be different if your representative was a professional or a friend or a family member (n=213)
%
Yes 29
No 49
Don't know 22
Total 100

We asked respondents to explain their answer. Respondents who said that the information would not be different 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.

"If someone is acting on my behalf, then they should be entitled to all information required to help my case."

"They require this information."

"If you are asking someone to speak on your behalf, there must be an element of trust."

Respondents who said that the information would be different, or that they did not know, said it very much depended on the context: who the representative was, relationship to the representative, the situation and the information being discussed.

"Being asked if you've ever been suicidal in front of a family member who maybe didn't know. Being asked if you wet the bed in front of a CAB representative. Some questions may have to be asked because of the way the system is structured but the DWP should be more sensitive about who is present when they ask them."

For example, some respondents said they would want 'more' information shared with family and friends.

"I would be happy for the family member to have any information but it would depend on the professional as to what health information I would like to share."

For others, this was the opposite.

"Professionals may need to know something I want to protect my family from."

"Don't want friends or family to know all personal information."

Contacting without direct consent in an emergency

We told respondents that if a client does not give permission for someone else to represent them, Social Security Scotland will not discuss them or their case with anyone else. However, there could be some emergencies, where a client may wish to be supported by someone, but they are unable to give their consent at that time.

For example a client could be in hospital and unable to contact Social Security Scotland themselves. So they may ask someone else to contact Social Security Scotland on their behalf about their benefits.

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.

Table 16: In an emergency, would you feel comfortable with Social Security Scotland discussing your benefits with that person? (n=214)
%
Yes 86
No 7
Don't know 7
Total 100

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). Most respondents who selected 'other' said they would be happy for any and all necessary information to be shared.

Table 17: In an emergency, what kind of information would you want to be shared between Social Security Scotland and the person making contact on your behalf? (tick all that apply) (n=185)
%
Information about the emergency 85
Any information to support your claim 78
Any information about your application process 70
Other 8

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. This included Social Security Scotland only speaking to others with a client's consent and approval and only discussing or sharing relevant information.

"Make sure they can prove who they are and can act on your behalf officially."

"That only relevant information regarding the situation is given and used."

These respondents felt that information about the process and remit of other people speaking to Social Security Scotland on behalf a client should be clear and accessible. This included confidentiality and how to nominate someone.

"Information about this process and who can do what must be clear, accessible and widely available so everyone has the right information."

"Would need a lot of clarity regarding confidentiality and who would be allowed to speak to them on my behalf."

Some respondents said that it would be important for Social Security Scotland to record and regularly review who could speak to them on behalf of a client. Another respondent said it would be important to have more than one named representative.

"I would like to nominate people and to be asked by social security Scotland after a period of time if I'm still comfortable with these people helping me."

"Would like to have more than one named person who able to contact SSS on my behalf. This is to ensure someone available when needed. Ease of being able to change the named persons, to account for their changing circumstances. Reminders about keeping such information up to date needed too."

Other respondents said that the idea of others speaking to Social Security Scotland on behalf of a client was a positive one.

"I think it is really needed for some people in times of stress or when people can't speak for themselves either because of an illness or incapacity to do so."

Contact

Email: Socialsecurityexperience@gov.scot

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