Social security: benefit take-up strategy

This take-up strategy is the first to be published under the provision of the Social Security (Scotland) Act.

Chapter 3: Improving Access to Information

To ensure information is available and accessible we will :

  • Build active and engaged local delivery teams to help clients to understand the benefits they are eligible for, and support them through the application process.
  • Continue promotional and engagement activities of Social Security Scotland’s National Engagement and Local Delivery teams – working closely with stakeholders and clients across the country.
  • Tailor communications strategies for each benefit – reaching different groups in the ways that work for them.
  • Embed inclusive communication in everything we do, so that all materials are accessible.
  • Equip third-sector and local authority partners with the information they need to best support their clients – through establishment of a stakeholder take-up reference group, and the development of a stakeholder take-up toolkit.
  • Make £500,000 available to fund preparation within charitable organisations promoting and/or supporting take-up of Scottish benefits.
  • Make £100,000 available to assist organisations who support people from seldom-heard groups to access the benefits that they are entitled to.

Social Security Scotland Communications and Engagement

It is essential that those who are entitled to benefits are aware of what is available to them. Social Security Scotland is a key part of getting this right, and there are a number of concurrent and integrated approaches to achieving this.

Local Delivery

Local Delivery is a cornerstone of Social Security Scotland's approach to promoting the take-up of Scottish benefits. The Scottish system puts clients at the centre, and this involves ensuring that people are easily able to access face-to-face support where and when they need it - instead of navigating an impersonal bureaucratic process alone. This approach will be integral to reducing anxieties associated with accessing essential information and completing application processes.

The local service will be based on providing pre-claim support by explaining our devolved benefits, helping clients make claims to payments as well as offering general advice and support on such things as appeals and redeterminations. To ensure clients receive the full support they need we will signpost clients to other services, using local referral processes to ensure that clients are supported, not only with welfare benefit services but wider support services and they are not 'lost in the system'.

Over the last year Social Security Scotland has had 19 Local Delivery Relationship Leads in place working across all 32 local authority areas in Scotland. Their role is to engage and build strong relationships with partners including local authorities, third sector, and health and social care organisations to raise awareness of Social Security Scotland and our devolved benefits.

Local Delivery service priorities are to ensure Social Security Scotland staff are based in places that clients already go, and that staff can work effectively with partners. As a result, Social Security Scotland will co-locate with existing services e.g. in local authorities, third sector and health centres. We hope this will reduce the stigma felt by people, since the reason for their visit will not be immediately obvious to other members of the community – an issue which has been particularly identified through engagement around Island Communities Impact Assessments.

Local Delivery Relationship Lead – Case Study 1: Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire

In Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, the Local Delivery Relationship Lead has provided stakeholder engagement within both local authorities. Broad engagement has included corporate membership of welfare rights steering groups and partnership working forums, such as the FAIRER East Renfrewshire, Advice Partnership Renfrewshire, Talking Points East Renfrewshire and the Renfrewshire Action on Affordable Credit. The Relationship Lead has also engaged with specific faith groups such as the Jewish Care Centre, and support organisations such as Dementia Care, Carer’s Centres, and the Disability Resource Centre. There has also been a great deal of engagement with services offering welfare rights advice, including housing associations, citizens advice groups, and third sector organisations.

Specific benefit engagement has involved close working with the Children and Families teams in both local authorities to ensure Best Start Grant is promoted as early as possible. The Relationship Lead presents at Health and Social Care meetings regularly, to give updates and answer any questions on Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods. This approach has been integral to driving take-up of both benefits by ensuring information is available, and access is not overly complex. The Relationship Lead has also engaged with registrars and independent funeral directors in both authorities to raise awareness on Funeral Support Payment and the criteria and application process. This specific engagement will continue as more benefits are released.

Local Delivery staff will hold regular 'surgeries' to help provide advice and support to those who need it, and further drive benefit take-up. They will also arrange visits to prisons and hospitals, offering advice and support, so that people are able to access benefits immediately when they are released or discharged.

For clients who need them, Local Delivery home visits will provide support to apply for the benefits they are entitled to – reducing the stress on applicants, and removing a significant barrier to applying.

Social Security Scotland are growing the Local Delivery team in time for the full service to be in place by summer 2020 – when the organisation will have fully local, mobile staff in every local authority area in Scotland. This network of local advisors will build over time, increasing incrementally as devolved benefits are introduced. It is anticipated there will be at least 400 locally based staff when fully operational.

Local Delivery Relationship Lead – Case Study 2: Western Isles

In the Western Isles the Local Delivery Relationship Lead is part of the Anti- Poverty Strategy Group and works closely with the CAB Strategic Manager. She has met with the several locally active client groups including Young Carer’s Group, Action for Children’s Young Mum’s group, and Western Isles Foyer project. She has also built a relationship with the local authority’s Community Learning and Development team, and Maternity team - providing an update and overview at their quarterly team meetings. She has also forged links with the local Housing Partnership and has articles published in their tenant’s newsletter. She also attends community open days to improve awareness of the devolved benefits.

The Relationship Lead has also secured a space at the regular Weaning fayres run by the health visitors in Stornoway, to improve awareness and encourage take-up of Best Start Foods. She has also built close links with the NHS Health Promotion Team and visited their staff throughout the islands.

Working with the local authority, the Relationship Lead has arranged with the registrars throughout the Western Isles to have Best Start Grant information issued to each person registering a birth, and also Funeral Support Payment information to each person registering a death. Working with the local authority Early Years manager and her team, information is now issued to every parent/guardian who registers with a nursery and also for the school registration.

Due to the geographical and travel challenges in the Western Isles, Video Conferencing facilities or Skype are used for "face to face" meetings as appropriate.

National Engagement Team

Alongside Local Delivery, the work of our National Engagement Team will help to establish Social Security Scotland as a competent, trusted and accessible organisation amongst our client and stakeholder base. Working alongside colleagues from across the organisation and in locations all around the country, the Team will help to ensure that those affected by these changes are aware of what will happen, and that the people who will be affected by Social Security Scotland's services are given the opportunity to influence their design. This means focused, long-term engagement across a wide range of stakeholders enabling stakeholder engagement to become an integral part of Social Security Scotland's operating procedures.

Towards this end, the National Engagement Team have been running a series of roadshows prior to the launch of each benefit. To date, they have held 11 roadshows for Best Start Grant, 11 for Funeral Support Payment, and 14 for Young Carer Grant. These roadshows are an opportunity to meet with a variety of stakeholders who will raise awareness with their client group of Scottish benefits and subsequently support and increase take-up. This practice will continue for all future benefits to be delivered by Social Security Scotland.

The National Engagement Team currently has a total of 1787 contacts on its stakeholder contact list, spanning across 725 different organisations.

The organisations are spread across variety of sectors including advice providers, equalities organisations, local authorities, voluntary sector organisations and social landlords. The Engagement Team is actively working with these stakeholders to help raise awareness and increase take-up of the benefits being delivered. For example, the team contacted all of the listed stakeholders via email to advise them of the launch of the Funeral Support Payment. They also contacted over 600 Funeral Directors and the representative bodies of Funeral Directors by post with updates and fact sheets for further information for their clients.


Engagement is taking place at both a national and local level to ensure Social Security Scotland reaches as wide a range of people as possible, including introductory meetings with a wide range of national and local voluntary sector organisations, advice services, family support organisations, nurseries, colleges and teams from across local government and the health service.

For example, the National Engagement Team have held information stands at the National Homelessness Conference and Institute of Revenues, Ratings and Valuation Scottish Conference & Exhibition 2019, which was attended by representatives from local authorities and across the public sector - Chief Executive, David Wallace also spoke at the conference. Social Security Scotland have held presentations at team meetings of the managers of Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland, Housing Managers Forums, the National Rural Mental Health Forum, and at Skills Development Scotland.

The National Engagement Team has attended a variety of events to broaden our reach across Scotland, reaching those considered to be seldom-heard groups, such as prison-leavers, or in more remote and rural locations (for example, holding an information stand at The Dumfries Show in August 2019).

Social Security Scotland is also targeting engagement with health professionals by linking into the broader work around the role they have in income maximisation and by presenting at events including the Voluntary Health Scotland Annual Conference and delivering awareness sessions for newly trained health visitors.

We are also engaging with those in the early years sector through hosting information stands at the Scottish Childminding Association and have arranged for our Best Start Grant factsheets to be included in the materials available to families visiting the Play Talk Read buses, which visit all 32 local authorities, including rural communities, to help promote positive parenting.

We will build upon this experience ahead of introducing the new Scottish Child Payment. Events and communications related to Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods will provide particularly useful insight, as many of those recipients may also be eligible for the new payment. Recognising that poverty can have different effects on people depending on their circumstances, and location – as identified by the priority families in our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan – we will ensure that events reach diverse populations.

Inclusive Communications

Social Security Scotland's first Inclusive Communications Stakeholder Reference Group meeting was held in August 2019. Stakeholders include a variety of members from Social Security Scotland, Scottish Government, charities, third sector organisations, health professionals, and advice organisations.

Social Security Scotland automatically creates all its promotional materials in seven alternative community languages – Farsi, Polish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Gaelic and Urdu. The materials will also be translated into any other language upon request.

We will ensure that the application process for Disability Assistance is inclusive, accessible, provided in a range of formats, can be completed in a range of channels (online, phone, post) and is simple, transparent and works for those making claims to Social Security Scotland. A review is on-going of current content and communication products, and we will ensure that all information is accessible.

Communications and Marketing

We recognise that every one of our client groups contains people who are communication disadvantaged and some of our own staff will also require communication support. That is why we are working to embed an inclusive communication approach across everything that Social Security Scotland does. Our approach will be to make our service inclusive by design, with specialist support such as interpretation available where necessary for the smaller number of people who need it.

Inclusive communication is a specialist area, so we are working closely with a range of expert stakeholders. We held an initial workshop in May 2019, when our stakeholders reviewed our current service capability. A Stakeholder Reference Group comprising representatives of 21 third sector organisations has been set up to help inform the actions we will take. We have also employed a speech and language therapist with many years of experience developing inclusive communication strategies to act as Social Security Scotland's expert adviser.

Our focus is now on developing a set of quality standards and indicators against which we can judge our progress, and identifying the practical actions we must take to become a fully inclusive service. Developing a strong culture around inclusive communication will be the key to our success. We will also be working to make sure that our people understand why inclusive communication is necessary and what role they can play in ensuring our success.

We currently have the following capability in place to support inclusive communications:

  • Language Translation and Interpretation: our services cover the production of translations into over 100 languages, Braille, Audio, Large Print and Easy Read formats. The services also cover face-to-face language interpretation. To support the SG National Gaelic plan, we provide translation and interpretation services in Gaelic.
  • Deafened and Hearing Impaired Community: As part of our support of the SG National BSL Action Plan, we have reviewed the current provision and with stakeholder input drafted a new specification of requirements for providing services for this community. An expanded service will be in place for Local Delivery go-live.

We are also be taking further actions to improve our service capability in support of inclusive communications:

  • Literacy, Cognitive and Learning Impairments: We are working to ensure that Social Security Scotland has the appropriate support and services in place to support clients with Cognitive and Learning impairments.
  • Physical Accessibility: We are developing a set of physical accessibility standards to support the creation of accessible and inclusive spaces for both clients and staff. These spaces will form part of a holistically inclusive experience for clients to aid all aspects of inclusive communications.

To raise awareness of payments and services as effectively as possible, members of Social Security Scotland's communications team are embedded into the service design team for each benefit from an early stage. By taking this multi-disciplinary approach – drawing together people from all the key specialisms: policy, service design, and communications – each benefit being introduced has a communications approach based on clear user research and client insights.

All of these insights are brought together into a strategic communication and marketing plans for each benefit launched that encompass all aspects of communications, including: stakeholder, digital, media relations, marketing, and internal communications.

We understand that each of the devolved benefits have unique audiences and challenges. That is why each benefit has its own tailored communications strategy and communications plan.

Feedback from users and Experience Panels was clear that clients want to hear about benefits from people they trust – including welfare advisors, teachers, funeral directors and health care professionals. Social Security Scotland will continue to build effective working relationships and provide stakeholder partners what they need to help promote benefits. This includes knowledge of what materials are available and how they can be accessed.

Through bringing the planning for all aspects of communications and engagement together, Social Security Scotland is looking to improve coordination and consistency, ensuring that the various activities build upon each other to increase impact and effectiveness. This approach has so far been adopted for the introduction of Carer's Allowance Supplement, the three Best Start Grant payments and Funeral Support Payment.

We will develop a communications strategy for each of the three Disability Assistance benefits. This will aim to ensure that people who are eligible, the third sector, local government, education sectors and advice providers are aware of the benefit, know how to apply and understand the eligibility criteria. We will publish guidance on the benefit, in a way that takes account of differing communication needs, so that eligibility is clearly understandable. And with Scottish Child Payment we will build on the success of the Best Start Grant, working our partners in the NHS and local childcare provision to build awareness of the payment and encourage people to apply.

Carer's Allowance Supplement

The overarching objective for Carer's Allowance Supplement was to raise awareness of the payment, as it did not require any direct action from the client group as it was an automatic payment. A number of tactics were adopted including media engagement, stakeholder roadshows, direct mailing, digital communications and provision of tools for stakeholders to share via their channels.

Monitoring of client queries and stakeholder feedback was measured, and call volumes were in line with expectations. Monitoring the nature of enquiries showed that the vast majority related to individual circumstances, rather than information which was available in general communications. Stakeholder feedback was also positive and they felt that the people that they worked with were generally aware of and understood the payments.

Best Start Grant

The Best Start Grant package of payments was the first time that Social Security Scotland had a direct call to action for clients as it is an application based benefit. The first payment, launched in December 2019, was the Pregnancy and Baby Payment. This had two distinct phases of communications and marketing activity.

Social Security Scotland created leaflets, intranet articles and factsheets that were cascaded to frontline NHS staff using health board internal communications channels to raise of the payment prior to launch. And at the point of launch we made available a range of posters and client facing leaflets to NHS services. Thousands of these materials were issued to NHS clinics, dentists, hospitals and health centres across the country.

A similar approach was adapted for the launch of the Best Start Grant Early Learning and School Age Payments. Working with local authorities, nursery and school facilities were provided with similar communications materials to enable them to promote these payments to parents of children who were accessing their services. Unlike the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, these are two brand new payments and we plan to embed the promotion of these payments into other key local services like the nursery and Primary school placement process.

The huge response– particularly online through tagging on Facebook– led to in excess of 4000 applications on the first day the Pregnancy applications opened. Social Security Scotland's social media insight shows that much of this was driven through stakeholder channels – in particular local authorities and NHS – who were using resources provided by Social Security Scotland to promote these benefits.

Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment received more than 4000 applications on the first day

Paid for marketing provided an opportunity for Social Security Scotland to get a better understanding of best timing for communications, media formats that worked well with this audience, and creative executions that resonated with the target audience. In line with the commitment to continuous improvement, lessons learned through Best Start Grant communication have informed the ongoing approach, including:

  • Utilising media channels during days and at times where we have seen that that people are most likely to apply for a Payment (for example, during the week rather than at the weekend).
  • Prioritising media channels in areas of higher deprivation alongside the socio-demographic make-up of the target audience.
  • Using the qualifying criteria in advertising materials to increase understanding so people more likely to apply and qualify for a payment.
  • Managing frequency to enable activity to be more phased throughout the year, as opposed to big bang individual bursts of activity.
  • Stakeholder outreach and engagement will be further developed to provide wider placement of materials in relevant client facing environments (for example, pharmacies, GP surgeries etc).

Funeral Support Payment

Funeral Support Payment communications and marketing was launched in summer 2019. Initial feedback from Funeral Directors is that this is helpful for them to signpost clients to the payment. As with all other benefits, we will evaluate and learn lessons over coming months.

There will be some lessons in relation to communications and marketing that will be relevant to all benefits. However we are clear we must communicate with different audiences according to their particular needs and preferences. For example, whilst for Best Start Grant there were a wide range of existing forums for parents that could be utilised by Social Security Scotland communications professionals, this does not exist to the same extent for people who are on benefits and recently bereaved. Instead early feedback suggests that funeral directors are directly promoting Funeral Support Payment to their clients through face to face meeting and signposting them to the Social Security Scotland client helpline.

Figure 3 Benefit Take-up Weeks

Targeted Communication and Engagement During 'Benefit Take-up Weeks'

To complement the ongoing work of the Social Security Scotland to promote and engage on benefits, the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland will run a series of targeted week-long programmes of activities to promote take-up of the broader range of benefits. These will be organised in collaboration with Social Security Scotland, as well as third sector and local authority partners.

These weeks will be aligned with specific events – such as the lead up to the school year start, around the UN’s International Day of Persons With Disabilities, or Challenge Poverty Week – and will focus on key audiences, and all of the benefits available to them, rather than focus on specific benefits. The target attendees for these events would be stakeholders and intermediaries who engage with the key audience to equip them with all the information that they require to support the people that they engage with to access all of the benefits that they are entitled to.

Stakeholder Engagement

Alongside Social Security Scotland national and local engagement activities, Scottish Government policy teams continue to build relationships with stakeholders ensuring effective dissemination of information and supporting and encouraging existing best-practice (see Annex B for details of Social Security Policy stakeholder groups).

Figure 4 Stakeholder take-up reference group

Stakeholder Take-up Reference Group

We are committed to supporting stakeholders to provide the best service to their clients in relation to devolved benefits. In order to ensure the stakeholder perspective is represented, we will establish the Stakeholder Take-up Reference Group.

This group will comprise key individuals and organisations representing academic, third-sector, and local authority interests. It will be designed so that members can bring their experience, expertise, and extensive networks to bear in supporting the implementation and monitoring of the first strategy, as well as feeding into the development of the second and subsequent strategies.

This group will also play a central role in shaping the Benefit Take-up Funds, as well as supporting the development of take-up engagement work.

Best Start Grant

Engaging with stakeholders, we have worked hard to ensure that information on the Best Start Grant reaches its target audience and encourages take-up. Taking a co-ordinated and collaborative approach, we are working closely with Health Boards, local authorities and third sector organisations to raise awareness and encourage applications for the payments. We are working with these stakeholders to develop best-practice around promotion and sign-posting, and to encourage wider adoption of the existing examples which we have encountered. This work has laid a foundation for the benefits to come, and we hope to continue working with these partners to increase take-up of the Scottish benefits to which people are entitled.

NHS Scotland

Throughout development of the Best Start Grant, we have engaged directly with health professionals – including meeting with Heads of Midwifery to seek suggestions on how best to promote Best Start Grant, running a workshop at a conference for health visitors and attending local Family Nurse Partnership meetings.

A key outcome of our work with NHS Scotland, has been the inclusion of information on BSG will in resources used by midwives and health visitors when asking routine questions about money worries. Information is also included in resources provided via the NHS Health Scotland parent/carer information pathway (i.e. the Ready Steady Baby book).

Local Authorities

We have been working with a wide range of local government departments to support the promotion and take-up of Best Start Grant. This includes welfare advice teams, Registrars, Revenues and Benefits teams, housing departments and local government communication teams.

We also worked with COSLA and local authorities to look at ways of embedding the promotion of all 3 payments within the wide range of existing local services; and how to reach groups who may not pick up messages through mainstream marketing and social media. Following discussions, we developed a toolkit[9] which local authorities can use to raise awareness of the Best Start Grant amongst eligible families to ensure they benefit from this additional investment.

Communications and marketing

Further resources have been made available to support partner organisations to promote take-up, including: guidance documents, leaflets, posters, model articles, and social media content that can be copied or adapted across a range of stakeholder channels. Furthermore, flyers giving information on Best Start Grant are offered in Braille, easy read, large print and alternative languages. A film is also available on the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland websites on the payments, which has subtitles and is in BSL.

Young Carer Grant

While developing the regulations for Young Carer Grant, the Young Carer Grant Working Group was set up to help develop the policy. Made up of key stakeholders, meetings were held throughout the development process. Once the regulations were laid the Working Group was then used to help promote and increase understanding of Young Carer Grant. The Group will meet again at the end of 2019 to discuss the impact of Young Carer Grant.

Along with the Working Group, officials also engaged with young carers – including through the Young Carer Panels and our stakeholders through the roadshows previously mentioned. During the roadshows attendees were also invited to sign up to receiving marketing material which can be displayed in their place of work to help promote the Grant.

Supporting Third Sector Partners

Successful implementation of this strategy is reliant on the experience, expertise, and extensive networks of our stakeholders. It is clear that there organisations providing benefit support and advice will require updated materials and training and will want to do their own work to promote the take-up of Scottish benefits. Furthermore, such organisations are often best-equipped to reach seldom-heard groups.

In recognition of this, we are introducing two new funds with a combined value of £600,000.

Figure 5 Benefit Take-up Fund

Benefit Take-up Funds Scottish Benefit Take-up Fund

  • A new £500,000 fund available for 2020 to assist organisations who are preparing their services and staff to support people who will be applying for Scottish benefits.
  • Examples of that preparation might include the development of promotional materials or relevant training.
  • The fund will have an emphasis on: first-time applicants, seldom-heard groups, and those who face particular barriers in accessing social security.

Scottish Income Maximisation Fund

  • A new £100,000 fund available for 2020 to assist organisations who support people to increase their household incomes – ensuring people are aware of the financial support available to them.
  • The Income Maximisation Fund will have an emphasis on: groups of people who have traditionally not applied for benefits, groups who may be in particular need of support, and groups that may have particular barriers to overcome in applying for benefits

Both funds will open with a call for bids in November 2019, and awards will be made in March 2020.

Scottish Benefit Take-up Fund

A key principle enshrined in the Social Security Act is that social security is an investment in the people of Scotland. Scottish benefits will support over half a million people and we want all who are eligible to take-up the financial support available to them.

This £500,000 fund will be available for 2020 to assist organisations who are preparing their services and staff to support people who will be applying for Scottish benefits.

The fund will consider bids from organisations of all sizes to be ready to support their clients – for example, through the development of promotional materials or relevant training.

The preparation fund will have an emphasis on:

  • Reaching people who may not have applied for social security benefits before in recognition that our disability benefits are – in the first instance – only open to new claims.
  • Activity that will have a positive impact on take-up among hard to reach groups.
  • Reaching groups who may have particular barriers to overcome in applying for benefits.
  • Activity that will promote the take-up of the Scottish Child Payment.

Scottish Income Maximisation Fund

Our Tackling Child Poverty Plan identified that helping people to understand what financial support may be available and how to overcome the poverty premium, would be an effective way of ensuring household incomes could be maximised. In addition, a key principle of the Social Security Act is that our Scottish social security system should contribute to reducing poverty in Scotland. Recognising these commitments, and the historic inequality of access to social security, we will have a dedicated fund to support the wider take-up of financial support – particularly within groups where this has been low in the past.

This £100,000 fund will be available for 2020 to assist organisations who support people to increase their household incomes, with an emphasis on ensuring people are aware of the financial support available to them.

The Income Maximisation Fund will have an emphasis on:

  • Activity that will have a positive impact on groups of people who have traditionally not applied for the financial support they are entitled to.
  • Reaching groups who may be in particular need of support.
  • Reaching groups that may have particular barriers to overcome in applying for benefits.
  • Activity that will increase the income of target households.

Both funds will open with a call for bids in November 2019, and awards will be made in March 2020. These are time-limited and targeted funds, and should not be considered an ongoing source of core funding.

Awards will be made on the basis of a competitive application process, and according to clear and transparent criteria.

We will ensure there is proportionate monitoring and evaluation activity built into funded bids, including ensuring support is available to put in place appropriate measurement and verification of impact. We will also provide application support to smaller organisations which may not have dedicated funding officer resource or experience of applying for grant-funding.

Figure 6 Stakeholder Take-up Toolkit

Stakeholder Take-up Toolkit

We will develop a Take-up Stakeholder Toolkit, to be distributed to third sector and local authority partners. The toolkit will help existing services to support their clients with Scottish benefits, and – in particular – with issues related to nontake- up. This will be of particular importance as we introduce the larger and more complex benefits – Scottish Child Payment and Disability Assistance.

The toolkit will include:

  • Information on key eligibility criteria for each benefit
  • Information on engaging with Social Security Scotland Local Delivery teams
  • Information on under-represented groups and effective modes of communication
  • Promotional materials for Scottish benefits in a range of formats (e.g. web articles, posters or leaflets) targeted at particular groups and tailored to area
  • Examples of existing practice around promotion, signposting, and referral
  • A list of key contacts

We will work closely with stakeholders to ensure that the toolkit meets their varied needs – providing tailored toolkits for specific sectors (e.g. Local Authorities).

Money Talk Team

Scottish Ministers recognise that independent advice services play a critical role in helping people to understand and exercise their rights and to seek solutions in a range of areas such as money, debt and social security entitlements. Acknowledging this important role, the Scottish Government supports Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) to deliver the Money Talk Team service (previously known as the Financial Health Check). Aiming to support 15,000 households per year, this service was launched in November 2018, and is supported by £3.3 million Scottish Government funding over two years (2018-20).

Clients can access the service either over the phone or face to face in their local bureau. The full check covers 17 different components and offers personalised advice on money matters, from benefit take-up and council tax reduction to debt advice and reducing household energy costs. The service offers a holistic, accessible and easy way for households to assess their financial situation and make the most of their income.

The service has been supported by a range of marketing campaigns to ensure we are making those most in need aware of the service. The Scottish Government undertook a national marketing campaign in January 2019 which was complemented by a further national campaign in June 2019 run by CAS. In August 2019, we launched a further campaign to coincide with the start of the school year (a time when many families are facing higher costs). The campaign is supported by advertising, PR and social media, encouraging people to call the helpline. The campaign also took to the streets with a national information roadshow during September 2019, visiting towns and cities across Scotland.

Money Talk Team - Case Study

Aisha* is 26 years old, pregnant and has a one year old son. She lives with her partner, and they both work part time but do not have set regular working hours.

Aisha called the Money Talk Team helpline as both her and her partner’s working hours were cut, and they were struggling financially.

Aisha was advised to make a claim for Universal Credit which she did. Aisha was advised of her eligibility for – and subsequently claimed – the Healthy Start vouchers, and Best Start Grant, having missed out on these benefits with her first child because she wasn’t aware of them.

*Name changed

CAS continue to market the service locally at promotional events, during awareness sessions at key forums and at other collaborative groups with partner organisations (this includes foodbanks, housing associations and health and social care professionals). One bureau, for example, has strong connections with a local mosque and was able to promote the service at several of their events, including a garden party. Another bureau is working closely with the local Health Visiting and Midwifery Team to promote the service to new parents.

In the first 9 months of the service, almost 8,000 people have accessed the Money Talk Team. Of those, 3,198 people are better off by more than £6 million, meaning those low income households have benefited by more than £1,850 on average.



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