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Client Panels Newsletter: Issue 7

Welcome to the Client Panels Newsletter

In this seventh edition of our newsletter, we are sharing updates about recently published reports and other completed projects. It also provides information about ongoing and upcoming opportunities to get involved in our research. Thank you to all of our members who have recently joined or extended their membership, we now have over 8,000 members. And thank you to everyone who has taken part in our research projects.

New Reports

  • 2022-23 Charter Measurement Framework and Charter Research
  • Client Panels Members’ Feedback 2022-23

Other recent projects

  • Client Expectations
  • Contacting Social Security Scotland’s General Enquiries line
  • Funeral Support Payment application form
  • Care Leaver Payment project
  • Easy Read Survey
  • Keeping in touch with clients
  • Adult Disability Payment Case Transfer

News and updates

  • Our Charter Review
  • Survey about Social Security Scotland’s Local Delivery service
  • Have your say in our new annual survey for Client Panel members
  • Charter Measurement Framework 2023-24

New reports

2022-23 Charter Measurement Framework and Charter Research

Earlier this year, we asked Client Panel members and partner organisations about their experiences with Social Security Scotland in the last year. We also asked Social Security Scotland staff about their experiences of working for the organisation.

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 2022-23 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 2022 and 31 March 2023 were invited to take part. Over 34,000 responses were received.

Here are a few highlights from the Charter Measurement Framework 2022-23.

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

  • Around 9 in 10 agreed or strongly agreed that they were treated with kindness (93%) and that staff listened to them (90%)
  • 89% agreed or strongly agreed that staff made them feel comfortable and 86% said they felt trusted by staff

70% of Client Survey respondents had applied for a Social Security Scotland benefit. Of those:

  • Around 9 in 10 (86%) felt the application asked only relevant questions. This was lower for respondents with experience of applying for Adult Disability Payment (70%) and Child Disability Payment (76%)
  • 88% felt the decision on their application was explained clearly

Around 1 in 5 disagreed that they got enough updates on the progress of their application (21%) and that their application was handled within a reasonable timeframe (19%).

Client Panel members we interviewed were mostly positive about their experience with Social Security Scotland. Positive comments included feedback on good interactions with staff and decision letters being easy to understand.

“Social Security Scotland [staff were] really friendly and [I] felt they genuinely wanted to help you and would go out of their way… I feel valued and that I’m important and they want to do the right thing for me, which builds a lot of trust.”

“[The decision] was by post, a letter. It was easy to understand, it explained about the amount of money that will be in your account every month."

Some client interviewees had problems during their experience. This included problems with communication and getting conflicting information from different members of staff. There were suggestions about how Social Security Scotland could improve including clearer application guidance and an online portal or email service to monitor the application process.

“[Emails for] progress updates. And then people with communication difficulties can get through on the phone more easily and others can get email."

We’re now sharing the results with teams across Social Security Scotland to let them know what is working well and what needs to improve.

These reports provide more information about this research:

  • Measuring Our Charter 2022-2023 (the Charter Measurement Framework report)
  • Social Security Scotland Client Survey 2022-2023 (full report and summary)
  • Charter Research 2022-2023 (full report and summary)

All these publications can be found at:

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

Client Panel Members’ Feedback 2022-23

Since December 2022 the research team have offered feedback surveys to all Client Panel members after they take part in surveys and interviews. As part of this year’s Charter Measurement Framework report, we also looked at the feedback received up until March 2023. Feedback included comments about the research being easy to take part in, and about appreciating the chance to feed back. We also received a couple of comments about improvements we could make – relating to postal strikes and a video call link not working.

“It was self explanatory and easy to complete and it's pleasing to know that the Scottish government are interested in people's views.”

“Was straightforward questions that were answerable, without having to put a huge amount of thought into it.”

The research team will continue to ask members for feedback directly after every survey and interview they take part in. There will also be a survey of all panel members every two years on their overall experience.

Other recent projects

Client Expectations

The research team continued its work to build on previous research around keeping clients updated on the progress of their application. We tested SMS and email notifications, which would update clients about their progress at key stages.

The research found that:

  • receiving updates on the progress of the application was welcomed
  • shorter updates that included examples of Supporting Information was helpful for clients

As a result of this research, Social Security Scotland will in future update clients by SMS / email at key stages of the application process. This is due to start with Adult and Child Disability Payment from February 2024.

Contacting Social Security Scotland’s General Enquiries line

Researchers also spoke to members who had contacted Social Security Scotland after applying for a benefit such as Adult Disability Payment, Child Disability Payment or Scottish Child Payment. Clients told us about their experience of contacting Social Security Scotland and their reasons for doing so. Overall, we found that a lack of communication from Social Security Scotland after their application as well as varying lengths in processing times had driven clients to make contact about the progress of their application. Various teams are working on building on this research. We are currently exploring ways in which clients could access their application processing journey online for Adult Disability Payment.

Funeral Support Payment application form

We undertook research to test changes to the Funeral Support Payment application form. This included additional questions confirming how reasonable it is for an applicant to be responsible for paying for the funeral. As a result of testing, the reasonability questions will not be asked of close relatives (for example, parent, child, sibling). Additional questions will be added for friends and distant relatives. These changes should help reduce the need to call every client to progress the application.

Care Leaver Payment project

The Scottish Government has committed to developing a form of financial assistance for young people aged 16 and over who are leaving care. This is called the Care Leaver Payment. The payment will add to a broader package of existing support which includes access to Continuing Care and Aftercare support for care leavers, the Care Experienced Bursary and Council Tax Exemption. The intention of the payment is to give additional financial support for young people leaving care. The proposal is to deliver a one-off payment of £2000 to those aged 16 and over who are leaving care.

We interviewed members who had experience of being in care to understand their transition out of care and gather their views on the payment. We found that the transition out of care is very unique to each individual. Clients also felt that a lump sum may not be the best way to receive the payment for some people who may need support with budgeting and managing the payment. This research will help to shape and develop this proposal.

Easy Read Survey

We sent a short survey to client panel members to understand their thoughts of what Easy Read is. We found that people are unclear what Easy Read involves. We recommended that a description clarifying what Easy Read is for clients should be included wherever possible.

Keeping in touch with clients

We spoke with members receiving a range of benefits from Social Security Scotland to find out clients’ preferences about how we can better keep in touch with people. Clients told us about their experience of communications with Social Security Scotland and what they would want and expect in terms of keeping in touch with us once they are receiving a benefit. We showed clients different ideas for ways the organisation could do this and received feedback on those ideas. This feedback will now help inform decisions about how Social Security Scotland can better keep in touch with clients.

Adult Disability Payment Case Transfer

We spoke with members who have transferred from receiving Personal Independence Payment from the Department for Work and Pensions, to receiving Adult Disability Payment from Social Security Scotland. Clients told us about:

  • their experience of their case being transferred
  • what improvements they felt could be made
  • difficulties that some clients had experienced when they transferred after reporting a change in circumstances

Overall, most clients felt that the process of transferring was smooth and that communications from Social Security Scotland about the transfer were clear and helpful. The findings have fed into work to improve the case transfer process overall and especially the journey for clients reporting a change of circumstances.

News and updates

Our Charter Review

Between May and October, Client Panel members took part in research to review Our Charter. This can be found at: This is the first time the Charter, and the accompanying Charter Measurement Framework, have been reviewed since they were created. The Charter Measurement Framework can be found at:

The research involved:

  • A survey completed by over 850 panel members
  • Five online workshops attended by 16 panel members
  • Interviews with 18 panel members from communities who face additional barriers to accessing social security

The research explored clients’ priorities and needs for the Charter. In the survey, respondents told us what the Charter should cover and how it should be communicated to clients. Interviewees told us about the barriers they face when accessing the social security system and the support that can be put in place to help overcome these. During the workshops, participants discussed each section of the Charter in detail and produced a set of recommended changes.

The review team are now writing up a report setting out the findings from the research. The revised Charter will be discussed and agreed by the Scottish Parliament in early 2024. We’ll provide updates on this in our future newsletters.

Survey about Social Security Scotland’s Local Delivery service

We recently sent a survey to all panel members about Social Security Scotland’s Local Delivery service. The Local Delivery service is a free service that’s available across Scotland. Appointments are booked in advance and held at a time and location that suits the client. Appointments are carried out by specially trained client support advisers who can provide a range of support. This includes: answering questions about benefits; completing an application form on your behalf; helping to submit supporting information or identity documents; or carrying out assessments for people who want to become appointees. More information on the Local Delivery service can be found at

We would like to thank the 1,079 Client Panel members who responded to the survey. We were interested in hearing members’ views about the service, including what works well and what can be improved. The questions in the survey covered all aspects of the Local Delivery service and the results will be used to help improve the service. The survey closed at the end of September and we are still looking at the results. When we publish the report on the findings on our website, we will share a summary with members who took part and also provide an update in a future newsletter.

Our new annual survey for Client Panel members

We recently invited members to take part in our new annual survey to understand your recent experience with Social Security Scotland and your views on different aspects of our service. The survey covered topics such as receiving payments and contacting us for different reasons.

We would like to thank all members who have taken part. We will look at the feedback received and publish a report on the findings on our website next year.

Charter Measurement Framework 2023-24

Early in the new year we will start work on the Charter Measurement Framework 2023-24. As in previous years, this will involve feedback from our clients, staff and partners about their experiences with Social Security Scotland over the past year. We’ll invite a range of Client Panel members to take part so that we can learn about client experiences in more detail.

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 and Suggestions

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

Contact us

We’ll contact you using the details you’ve given us. 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 Scotland Client Advisor by:

  • Web chat:
  • Freephone 0800 182 222 (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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