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Social Security Experience Panels - appointments and local delivery: report

This report outlines the Social Security Experience Panels views expressed in a survey and focus groups on Social Security Scotland appointments and local delivery.

This document is part of a collection


Demand for appointments

Social Security Scotland wants to ensure that booking an appointment is as easy as possible for clients. 

To understand potential client demand, we asked survey respondents if they felt they would ever need to make an appointment to speak to someone from Social Security Scotland.

The majority of respondents said they would want to make an appointment to speak to a Social Security Scotland staff member at some point (85 per cent), with just fifteen per cent saying they would never want to make an appointment.

Table 9: Do you think you would ever want an appointment to speak to someone from Social Security Scotland? (n=543)

Response

%

Yes

85

No

15

Total

100

Reasons for wanting an appointment

We asked focus group participants why they would want an appointment with Social Security Scotland. In general, participants offered reasons across four main themes.

Accessibility

Many participants told us they had accessibility needs which meant that appointments were the best way to resolve their queries. 

“Because I am severely sight-impaired […] [it is] difficult for people like me to use phones and you can’t get magnification on the internet.”

Consistency and reliability

Some participants said that making an appointment would be a way to access accurate and consistent information, rather than getting different information from different people.

“I’d like there to be some consistency. I’ve been told so many different things […] It always depends who you speak to, and what you’re told changes all the time. The most consistent I have come into contact with are the staff in [redacted] Jobcentre, they’re amazing and have a really consistent approach.”

Other participants felt that appointments were more reliable than other means of contacting Social Security Scotland.

“Mail gets lost, doesn’t reach where it is supposed to…” 

Information Seeking

Many participants said their need for an appointment would stem from them seeking information about a particular benefit, eligibility or some other query. For some, an appointment would be the result of not being able to find the information they needed themselves.

“Because I get lost in a system I don’t understand. So I can better understand entitlements…” 

‘I would like to sit down with someone who can tell me what I can claim for. I just don’t have a clue.” 

Many participants felt the system was designed to be complex, and that it should be Social Security Scotland’s responsibility to proactively inform people of their entitlements. 

Some participants said they were not comfortable seeking out information on their own, particularly those who had difficulties using a computer.

“You need to consider we are not all computer literate – there needs to be many channels…”

Checking status

Some participants said that an appointment was a means of staying in touch with Social Security Scotland, so that they could get clarity over existing applications and claims, and be reassured if needed on any issues that had arisen.

“Appointments serve as a point of contact [with Social Security Scotland] in order to provide clarity and provide reassurance over processes.”

Other reasons

Many participants gave other reasons for appointments, the most common being to make, resolve or get an update on any complaint they had made about Social Security Scotland.

A small number of participants said they would never expect to make an appointment, as they believed everything could be done online.

“Why would you need an appointment? I thought everything was done online now?”

Contact

Email: aimee.mccullough@gov.scot

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