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Client Panels Newsletter: Issue 4

Welcome to the Client Panels Newsletter

In this fourth edition of our newsletter, we will share our latest research findings and tell you what is coming up in early 2023. Thank you to all of our members who have taken part in our research projects in 2022.

New Reports

News & Updates

  • Best Start Foods Research
  • Five Family Payment
  • Extending Membership
  • Research Opportunity for the LGBT+ Community

What’s Next

  • Charter Measurement Framework 2022-23
  • New Projects

New Reports

2021-22 Charter Measurement Framework and Charter Research

Between February and May 2022, we asked Client Panel members, Social Security Scotland staff and partner organisations about their experiences with and within Social Security Scotland.

The results were included in this year’s Charter Measurement Framework report. This tracks how well we are delivering on the commitments set out in Our Charter. The findings of the 2021-22 Client Survey were also used for the framework report. All clients who had received a decision or payment (where no application was required) between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022 were invited to take part. Over 7,500 people responded.

The research involved:

  • Interviews with 18 Client Panel members
  • A survey completed by 426 staff (a response rate of 17% of all staff) and interviews with 24 staff who completed the survey
  • focus groups with 10 Client Experience staff
  • a survey completed by 74 partners and interviews with 10 partners who completed the survey

Here are a few highlights from the Charter Measurement Framework 2021-22.

Most Client Survey respondents felt they had enough choices of communication to (85%) and from (80%) Social Security Scotland.

The majority of Client Survey respondents who had been in contact with staff were positive about their interaction:

  • Around 9 in 10 agreed or strongly agreed that they were treated with kindness (94%) and that staff listened to them (92%).
  • 91% agreed or strongly agreed that staff made them feel comfortable and 88% said they felt trusted by staff.

Around two thirds of Client Survey respondents (66% had experience of applying for a Social Security Scotland benefit. Of those:

  • 9 in 10 (90%) felt the application asked only relevant questions. This was lower for respondents with experience of applying for Child Disability Payment (83%).
  • Around 9 in 10 (87%) felt the decision on their application was explained clearly.

Over 1 in 10 disagreed that they got enough updates on the progress of their application (17%) and that the application was handled within a reasonable timeframe (14%). Client interviewees were mostly positive about their experience with Social Security Scotland. Positive comments were about feeling treated with dignity, fairness and respect and being able to easily access the service.

“The website was clear and explained things. The application process…the questions were really easy to understand...I was pleasantly surprised, it was easy [to do].”

“I feel the service is much more humanised. I felt like a person…[Social Security Scotland]…is so much more person-centred and more about being compassionate. There’s more understanding and listening and that’s important."

There were suggestions about how Social Security Scotland could improve including an online portal to monitor the application process while others wanted the option to receive decisions over the phone.

“What I thought would be quite good is if you had an account you can log in to…that way you can see what you’ve already applied for.”

These reports contain more information about this research:

If you would like paper copies sent to you please get in touch using the details in the Contact us section of this newsletter.

Child Disability Payment

We have recently published the findings from research carried out during the Child Disability Payment Pilot and in the first months of the benefit’s launch across Scotland.

The research aimed to identify early insights into what was working well with the new benefit and any areas for improvement ahead of the national rollout and beyond. For example, most applicants we interviewed as part of the research found completing the application straightforward.

Some said that the questions in the application form were appropriate and allowed them to describe their child’s condition and circumstances. However, there was some negative feedback.. This included the questions being too focused on physical disabilities or not feeling relevant. Views varied on whether or not the form was repetitive.

Alongside other feedback routes and operational information, the findings have been used to refine systems, learning, and processes. For example, we have made a number of changes to the application form and information available to applicants.

You can read the full report or the summary here:

If you would like a paper copy sent to you, please get in touch using the details in the Contact us section of this newsletter.

Client Panels Members’ Feedback

During May 2022, we asked all of our Client Panels members about their thoughts and experiences of being a member – 364 people completed the survey.

Overall Attitudes

Around nine in ten respondents strongly agreed or agreed that Social Security Scotland values feedback (88%) and the Client Panels are a good way to help us improve (87%).

Nine out of ten (90%) said they were glad to be a member of the Client Panels and that they could take part in a way that suited them.


Almost all strongly agreed or agreed that the welcome message was easy to understand (94%) and the information was useful and clear (90%).

Almost all who had been invited to a research project said the invite was easy to understand (94%) and made it clear how to take part (94%).


Of the respondents who had read the reports, the majority said they were interesting (94%) and easy to understand (94%).

Taking Part In Research Activities

All of our clients that had taken part in an interview said they were able to take part in a way that suited them, and that the interviewer made them feel at ease.

You can read the full report or the summary here:

If you would like a paper copy sent to you please get in touch using the details in the Contact us section of this newsletter.

News and updates

Best Start Foods Research

We spoke to people on the Client Panels who had applied for and received a Best Start Foods card. Clients told us about their experience applying for the benefit and what improvements they would like to see during the process. We found that overall, clients were happy with the application process for Best Start Foods and find the card useful when buying healthy food for their children. We also found that clients would like to see more communication from Social Security Scotland during the application process.

The research team is working to build on this research and identify future changes to the benefit to meet client needs. Some areas that are being considered are where people can find out information, making sure this is in as many places as possible. And also letting people know about tips for recipes or other ideas for the food they buy.

Five Family Payment

Ahead of increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per child per week, research was undertaken with clients to test the wording around automatic awards of the Five Family Payments and its effect on applications made online, by phone and paper. Clients told us the information was clear, with no changes needed to those questions.

Extending membership

Our first Client Panels members’ terms were coming to the end of their two-year membership. We asked them if they would like to extend their membership. Over 200 Clients responded and agreed to continue their membership for another two years.

External research opportunity

Are you LGBT+? Researchers at the University of Stirling and Sheffield Hallam University are wanting to speak to people who identify as LGBT+ and have claimed any benefits from Social Security Scotland. This is not a Client Panels project, and Social Security Scotland are not involved in the work. If you are interested in taking part please visit Recruitment is continuing until March 2023.

What's Next?

Charter Measurement Framework 2022-23

Early in the new year we will start work on the Charter Measurement Framework 2023. As in previous years, this will involve speaking to clients, staff and partners about their experience with us over the past year.

New Projects

The research team are taking some time to review all the research and statistics we have from the first four years as Social Security Scotland. We are also in the early days of new projects on local support for clients, the appointee process, and looking at what is needed on the individual benefits.

Contact Us

If you want to leave the Client Panels

You can leave the Client Panels at any time. If you no longer want to take part, let us know by using details below in the Contact us section.

Contact us

We’ll contact you in your preferred way when we can. If you prefer we contact you in another way, let us know and we’ll update our records. To do this or to let us know of any other relevant research related information, contact us:

  • Online using our contact form:
  • Freephone: 0800 029 4974
  • Post: Insights Research, PO Box 10303, Dundee, DD1 9FY
  • You can ask for phone line language interpretation by calling 0800 029 4974. If you’re a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can contact us by going to If you’re a text phone user, you can call us using the 18001 prefix.

Questions about your benefits

The Client Panels team do not have access to your case information and can’t give advice. You can contact a Social Security Client Advisor by:

  • web chat:
  • Freephone: 0800 182 2222 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday).
  • If you're a British Sign Language user, you can use the contactSCOTLAND app to
    contact Social Security Scotland by video relay.
  • or post: Social Security Scotland, General Enquiries, PO Box 10301,
    Dundee, DD1 9FY

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