Take-up rates of Scottish benefits: October 2022

A new, annual publication that contains our latest estimates of take-up of Scottish benefits delivered by Social Security Scotland.

This document is part of a collection

Take-Up Strategy Progress Update

Ensuring that families can access all of the Scottish Social Security support to which they are entitled is a legal duty and fundamental priority of the Scottish Government. The second Benefit Take-up Strategy, published in October 2021, sets out how the Scottish Government is working to ensure people can access the support they are entitled to, and is built around five core principles.

1. Prioritising person-centred approaches

2. Communicating and engaging effectively

3. Bringing services to people

4. Encouraging cross-system collaboration

5. Continuously learning and improving

At the heart of the second Strategy is the recognition that benefit take-up is part of a bigger picture - supporting a holistic Scottish Government approach to maximising incomes. This underpins the key commitments of tackling poverty and supporting recovery from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and more recently the cost of living crisis.

Since the publication of the last Strategy, the following actions have been taken to maximise the take-up of Scottish benefits, delivering against each of the principles:

Principle 1: Prioritise person-centred approaches

  • The Scottish Government has committed £20.4m over the next four years in the Social Security Independent Advocacy Service, which launched in January 2022. The service is free and supports disabled people to access and apply for Social Security Scotland assistance. The service has provided support to over 200 clients since it was launched.
  • Stigma has been identified as one of the key barriers to the take-up of benefits. The Scottish Government has a rights-based approach to social security – working to change the narrative, challenging negative perceptions around benefit receipt, and encouraging friends and family to talk and share knowledge about services and support available. User research means we better understand how to tackle stigma, and ensures that Scotland's social security system is designed with input from the people who will use it. To date, User Researchers have spoken to more than 2,000 people about their experiences in applying for and receiving benefits. Their experiences are central to tackling stigma and influence what we do, for example: the design of the application process and application forms, communications material, web content, operational guidance for staff, and decision letters.
  • The Scottish Government is delivering on the Programme for Government commitment to explore ways to automate payment for devolved social security benefits. Subject to parliamentary approval, from 14 November the Scottish Government will introduce automatic awards of Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment to eligible families in receipt of Scottish Child Payment, meaning people will not need to apply if they receive Scottish Child Payment, which could help improve take-up.

Principle 2: Communicate and engage effectively

  • Work on inclusive communication continues. We know that people who are eligible to receive disability benefits are more likely to have a communication disability or experience communication disadvantage than the general population.
  • Scottish benefits are being promoted through a number of marketing campaigns:
    • Financial support marketing campaign (directing people to a bespoke financial wellbeing support page) (no longer active)) supporting, empowering and offering opportunities to people who are newly financially vulnerable, from 29 November 2021 to 31 March 2022.
    • Social Security Scotland ran 12 marketing campaigns across a range of channels, including TV, radio, print, online and digital advertising, to raise awareness of our benefits and encourage people to apply.
    • To support the national launch of Child Disability Payment in November 2021 and Adult Disability Payment in 2022, Social Security Scotland ran paid-for marketing campaigns across radio, print, digital and out of home advertising, created resources including factsheets, posters and leaflets which were shared with stakeholders.
    • A multi-media marketing campaign is running from 28 September to 22 November 2022 to encourage people to find out about all the support available during the current cost of living crisis and improve take-up.
  • To maximise awareness and promote take up of Adult Disability Payment and Child Disability Payment, Social Security Scotland delivered 110 engagement events with over 6,500 stakeholders signing up to attend.
  • To maximise take-up of Funeral Support Payment, Social Security Scotland continuously promotes the benefit through social media channels, radio, newsletters and newspaper articles to raise awareness. A week of promotional activity at the start of December has been organised to tie in with National Grief Awareness Week, and awareness sessions will be held for funeral directors to provide clarity and guidance on how the payment operates to help improve take-up.
  • Social Security Scotland's National Engagement Team have worked with National Records of Scotland to ensure information on Funeral Support Payment is shared with Registrars. They now have access to Funeral Support Payment materials to help initiate and support conversations with clients who may be eligible for Funeral Support Payment.
  • During Baby Loss Awareness week, resources were proactively promoted highlighting financial support available to bereaved parents on the Social Security Scotland website and social media channels, which will be further shared via stakeholder newsletters. The Scottish Government has also reached out to relevant stakeholders encouraging them to share our resources on financial support available via their own channels and networks.

Principle 3: Bring services to people

  • The local delivery service is available across the country. This provides people with support from trained advisers in their local community and includes face to face support to understand eligibility to benefits, and to complete and submit application forms. By October this year the team had supported more than 18,000 appointments since the launch of the service in July 2021.
  • The Scottish Government has continued to invest in advice in accessible settings to maximise income and tackle poverty. This includes expanding the Welfare Advice and Health Partnerships trial into a further 30 GP practices in remote, rural, and island communities through investment of an additional £600,000. This investment brings the total commitment to £3.5 million over three years to place welfare rights advisors in up to 180 practices in Scotland's most deprived areas.
  • Social Security Scotland ensure information is in the places and networks people are already using and visiting, for example, the five family payments leaflet included in the baby box was updated to include information about Child Disability Payment.
  • In partnership with supermarket retailer ASDA, Social Security Scotland has delivered seven in-store engagement events to raise awareness of Best Start Foods and how to apply for and use the card, reaching more than 2,100 people. This activity was complemented with posters and in-store radio adverts across all Scottish stores. In addition, the Best Start Foods logo and link to online application was included on milk cartons and Del Monte's frozen fruit and vegetables across Iceland's Scottish stores, posters were displayed at the tills of Scotmid stores and Coop shared digital advertising across their social media feeds.

Principle 4: Encourage cross-system collaboration

  • To meet the Scottish Government's commitment to provide clients with effective referrals to independent advice providers and other support organisations, a multi-disciplinary project team, steering group, and three working groups have been resourced. This work will explore options to develop robust signposting and referral arrangements with a range of organisations across Scotland – piloting approaches with key partners in 2023.
  • The Scottish Government is dedicated to exploring opportunities to automate social security payments, and to ensure we put in place the appropriate mechanisms to maximise take-up. Across all of the devolved benefits, the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring we minimise as far as possible any burden on clients or barriers to access. As part of their remit, the above mentioned multi-disciplinary project team and groups will be exploring the potential automation of processes and payments across our system.
  • As part of the commitment to exploring automation and remove barriers to accessing benefits and services, the Scottish Government has undertaken a joint discovery exercise with local authorities exploring options for sharing data. A number of technically feasible recommendations that align with Social Security Scotland policy and with local authority needs have been made.

Principle 5: Continuously learn and improve

  • With a renewed focus on hard to reach and seldom heard groups, as well as equalities groups, the Scottish Government is working to ensure people from all walks of life can access the support they are entitled to through their new Scottish social security system.
  • Information about Scottish social security benefits is included in the welcome packs supporting refugees, factsheets are proactively being translated into community languages, adding Ukrainian this year, and we are exploring collaboration with community radio to translate adverts to be shared across local radio shows.
  • The Scottish Government has published evaluations of Job Start Payment and Funeral Support Payment, and is already using the findings to help improve what we do. We have been proactively working with work coaches across DWP's Jobcentre network in Scotland, providing promotional materials to support young people they are working with.


Email: ceu@gov.scot

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