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Social Security Experience Panels: overpayments

This report outlines the Social Security Experience Panels views expressed in a survey about overpayments.

This document is part of a collection


Re-paying an overpayment 

We asked participants how and where they would like to go to in order to return an overpayment. First, we asked them ‘If you discovered Social Security Scotland overpaid you, where would you like to go to return the money?’ Again, we asked participants to choose all options that they would be happy with. 

Almost half of participants (48 per cent) said they would be happy repaying the overpayment over the internet. Around a third of participants (34 per cent) said they would be happy visiting their local brank branch to repay the money with a similar percentage (33 per cent) happy to repay over the phone.

Table 10: Participants repayment preferences (n=135) 

Mode of payment  %
Over the internet  48
Social Security Scotland building  39
Visiting your local bank branch 34
Over the phone  33

Again, the table below shows those participants who had selected multiple options for repayment modes, versus those who had selected only one option. Around 4 in 10 (38 per cent) participants selected more than one option.

Table 11: Participants repayment preferences flexibilities (n=135) 

%
Selected multiple options  38
Over the internet only 21
Social Security Scotland Building only 20
Over the phone only 11

For those that had selected they would be happy repaying an overpayment over the phone, we asked them how they would like to do this. Participants were asked to choose all options that they would be happy with. The most popular option was by talking to an operator, with almost 7 in 10 (69 per cent) selecting this option.

Table 12: Participants preferences for repayment via the phone (n=49)

Payment Method  %
By talking to an operator  69
Entering your card details into an operated system  33
I don’t care 31

We than asked participants how they would like to pay back an overpayment. Again, we asked participants to choose all options that they would be happy with. The most popular option was agreeing to have the overpayment taken from future benefits with two thirds of participants (66 per cent) selecting this option. The least popular options were paying by cash (27 per cent) and by cheque (9 per cent). 

Table 13: Participants repayment method preferences (n=134)  

Mode of payment  %
Agreeing to have the overpayment taken from future benefits 66
By setting up a direct debit or standing order 51
Using a debit card  37
Cash  27
Cheque 9

The table below shows the number of people who selected multiple options versus the number who selected one mode of payment only. Around half (48 per cent) of participants selected more than one repayment method option.

Table 14: Participants repayment method flexibilities (n=134) [6]

%
Selected more than one option  48
Agreeing to have the overpayment taken from future benefits only 28
By setting up a direct debit or standing order only 12
Using a debit card only 8
Cash only 4
Cheque only 2

Participants were then asked to select how they would like to repay an overpayment. We asked if they would prefer to pay it back in full or in installments. We also gave participants an ‘it depends’ option. 

%
In full 5
Installments 47
It depends 48

Only 5 per cent of participants selected the in full option. We provided participants the option to explain their choice for this question. The most prevalent theme that occurred was that of not wanting to be in debt: 

“Do not like debt.”

“Don’t want to be in debt arrears.”

Almost half of participants (47 per cent) said they would prefer to pay an overpayment back in installments. Many expressed a concern that a one off payment would be unaffordable and suggested paying in installments would be easier to manage            

“Its more affordable to pay back in installments when on benefits.”

“Due to receiving a limited budget every penny counts”

“Living on a very low income means it is extremely difficult to repay money in a lump sum as it woud always have been spent”

Finally, almost half of participants (48 per cent) selected the ‘it depends’ option. The most common reason supplied by participants for selecting this option was that it would depend on the amount of the overpayment:

“It would depend on how much and whether or not I could afford to pay it all in one go”

“I depends how much I’ve been overpaid by. I’d prefer to pay it back in full but if it’s a lot I’d like to do it by installments”

Another common reason for selecting this option was that it depends how soon the person was notified of an overpayment. 

“It would depend on the timescale obviously. If it was an overpayment that I was not aware of and had gone on for a long time then I would need a lot of time to pay it back in installments. If it was a small amount and had only been paid for a short time then I would pay it back at once”

“if the overpayment was not noticed immediately some may have been spent accidently and an individual may be unable to pay the full sum back in one”

“If I was told about the overpayment as soon as it happens then I would want to pay it back in a lump sum. If the overpayment came to me in small amounts over many payments that I could not see it was happening, then I would want to pay it back in installments. “

Contact

Email: eilidh.shearer@gov.scot

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