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Client Panels Newsletter: Issue 5

Welcome to the Client Panels Newsletter

In this fifth edition of our newsletter, we will be sharing some updates from our projects, our accessibility offers and tell you about some research coming up in 2023. Thank you to all of our members who have taken part in our research projects.

Recent Projects

  • Best Start Foods Discovery.
  • Five Family Payments.
  • Funeral Support Payment.
  • Child Disability Payment Application.
  • Applications Processing Times.
  • Child Disability Payment Letters.

News & Updates

  • Reasons for Late Applications.
  • Client Panels Members’ Feedback Update.
  • Opening Hours Update.
  • Charter Measurement Framework.
  • Update on how we collect your data.
  • External Adult Disability Payment Research Opportunity

Recent Projects

Best Start Food Discovery

The research team has continued its work to build on previous research. We spoke to clients and client advisors about four areas:

  • The current user experience.
  • The future user experience.
  • User needs around automation.
  • Changes required to bring Best Start Foods under the Social Security Scotland Act.

We have presented our findings and recommendations to our colleagues. To improve the application process we've removed the need to provide income evidence. This will also prevent cases where clients fall in and out of eligibility.

We also found that clients’ views varied on the possible changes to how Best Start Foods is paid. These findings will help shape long term changes to Best Start Foods, over the coming years.

Five Family Payments

We are currently completing research across all Five Family Payments. This will help us to explore the broader client experience and help us decide what research to do in the future.

Funeral Support Payment

This project was to improve the Funeral Support Payment application process. We asked clients and case managers to help us test new application form questions. Previously all clients had to receive a phone call from a client advisor. This was so the client could explain the reasons for accepting responsibility for the funeral.
We found the new options received a mixed response. We also found further issues with the application process, and how questions are worded. We will use these findings to help shape future research to work on improving the service.

Child Disability Payment Application

We spoke to people on the Client Panels who had been called by Social Security Scotland to request additional information about their Child Disability Payment application. Clients told us about their experience of the call and what improvements they would like to see. We found that overall, clients felt their contact preferences were listened to and were very happy about the content of the call and how they were spoken to.

“When they phoned, they introduced themselves instantly, asked if I had time to talk – it wasn’t assumed. I thought that was good, it wasn’t just expected that I should be free to speak. They explained why they were calling and what information they were looking for. The person who called wasn’t demanding – just getting to know the situation, and asking if you have additional information, so you can tell them everything.”

“The call I had was very relaxed. The handler was reassuring, asked if I needed a break, told me just to let them know any time if I did. There’s nothing worse than being on phone when you need to get off.”

“They made me feel like they were a person. It’s not like they told me all about their personal life, they just made me feel like they understood. Makes you feel at ease - you think, this person gets what I’m going through.”

The research team is working to build on this research and further understand the improvements identified. We will also be repeating the research for clients who have been called about their Adult Disability Payment.

Application Processing Times

We asked clients about their experiences of making applications and their processing times. This involved speaking to clients who applied for and received a range of benefits offered by Social Security Scotland.

Overall, our clients told us they had a positive experience when making an application. However, some told us that they would like to be updated more on the progress of their application. Some clients told us that they found providing supporting information a difficult part of the process. These findings are being used in conversations about how changes can be made to meet clients’ needs with applications.

Child Disability Payment Letters

Currently, the research team is undertaking research about Child Disability Payment letters. The research will involve speaking to both clients and staff to get their thoughts on some example letters that Child Disability Payment clients may receive in future. The feedback from clients and staff will help with understanding how letters sent to clients can be changed to improve clients’ experiences.

News and updates

Reasons for Late Applications

We recently sent out a survey to our clients exploring the reasons for late benefit applications. We would like to thank the 340 panel members who responded. We are analysing the responses and will share our findings soon.

Opening Hours Update

In a newsletter last year, we shared the key findings from our survey with Client Panel members on when they need to contact Social Security Scotland. We found that most respondents would ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ need to contact us outside of the current opening hours of 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday. Social Security Scotland have considered the survey findings and decided opening hours will remain the same. However, we will continue to monitor any feedback received on opening hours through our regular Client Survey. This will help us assess if there is any need to look at this again or carry out further research in the future.

Member Feedback Update

Last year we asked our Client Panel members to let us know if we could make our communications more accessible. Our members who prefer to be sent out letters and newsletters through the post told us that they would like to receive them in alternative ways.

We have now updated the section in the Client Survey where people sign up to the Client Panels to ask our members whether they would like:

  • Braille transcript
  • Language translation
  • Large print
  • Dyslexia friendly font

We have also included an open text box so our members can tell us about anything else we can do to make our research invites and newsletter more accessible. So far, we’ve had suggestions for shaded paper, which we have now put in place.

Charter Measurement Framework

In the next few months we’ll be inviting some Client Panel members to tell us about their experience with Social Security Scotland over the past year. The results will be part of this year’s report on the Charter Measurement Framework. This is how we show whether Social Security Scotland is delivering on the commitments of Our Charter.

Update on how we collect your data

Since the Client Panels started, the number of benefits that Social Security Scotland delivers has grown. It’s important that when we invite you to take part in research, it is relevant to your experience. From now on, we’ll check the data held by Social Security Scotland about the benefits you have applied for or received. This includes things like the name of the benefit, if you act on behalf of someone else, and if you have experienced case transfer from the Department for Work and Pensions. The research team will not have access to your individual case information.

This action won’t affect any of the personal information you have told us. For example, your date of birth, contact details or communication needs. For these types of personal data, we will always use the information you told us when you signed up to the Client Panels.

External Adult Disability Payment Research Opportunity

Are you receiving Adult Disability Payment? Have you accessed Food banks? Researchers at the Scottish Centre of Social Research (ScotCen) would like to speak to people who use foodbanks and are claiming Adult Disability Payment.

This is not a Social Security Scotland project and the Client Panels team will not be involved in any way or know if you take part. Here are the details if you would like to take part.

Share your experiences of living with a disability

ScotCen Social Research are carrying out a study to understand whether and how financial support meets the needs of disabled people with mental and physical health conditions. They would like to invite you to take part in this research!

What will taking part involve?

The interview will take 45 to 60 minutes and can take place at a date and time that suits you. Interviews can be by telephone, video call or in person. Participants will receive a voucher as a thank you for taking part.

Do I have to take part?

No. Taking part is completely voluntary. Whether you take part or not will not affect your benefits or any tax credits now or in the future.

Who is carrying out this research?

Researchers at the Scottish Centre for Social Research (ScotCen) are carrying out this study. ScotCen are an independent not-for-profit organisation that believes that social research has the power to make life better.

The Trussell Trust have commissioned this study. The Trussell Trust has a vision to end the need for food banks.

Where can I find out more?

If you’d like to get involved, or to find out more, please contact Lesley Birse (, Jo Wildman ( or call at 0131 240 0223. They would then like to ask you some questions to see if you are eligible to take part.

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.

Feedback & Suggestions

You can send us feedback and suggestions for this newsletter by using the contact details below.

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 us 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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