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Information relating to complaints received by Social Security Scotland: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

FOI Reference: FOI/202300362191
Date received: 15 June 2023
Date responded: 13 July 2023


Request for information 1: The total number of registered complaints received by Social Security Scotland over the past five years.

Request for information 2: The outcomes of these registered complaints, specifically indicating how many were resolved to the satisfaction of the complainants.

Request for information 3: The number of complaints that required escalation to higher levels of authority for resolution.

Request for information 4: Whether Social Security Scotland maintains records of incidents where citizens are frequently disconnected from the chat agent service or phone conversations.

Request for information 5: If such records exist, I request access to relevant data regarding the frequency of disconnections and the demographic profiles of affected individuals. This information is essential as it pertains to potential mistreatment of vulnerable individuals and demands a thorough investigation.

Request for information 6: The average duration from the submission of benefit claims to the assessment process and the subsequent decision reached over the past five years.

Response to your request

Request for information 1 and 2:

We routinely publish information about complaints in our Feedback Statistics publication, which is part of our Official Statistics reporting and contains additional analysis. These are broken down by financial year. The most recent publication covers to 31 March 2023 and is available at the link below:

Social Security Scotland - Social Security Scotland feedback statistics to 31 March 2023

The reports include the outcomes of the complaints, the categories of which are: Upheld, Partially upheld, Not upheld, Resolved and Withdrawn.

Request for information 3:

Our complaints procedure has two stages. We expect the majority of complaints will be handled at stage 1. If the client remains dissatisfied after stage 1, they can request that we look at it again, at stage 2. If the complaint is complex enough to require an investigation, we will put the complaint into stage 2 immediately and skip stage 1. The number of complaints escalated to stage 2 is included in in our Feedback Statistics publication

If a client is not satisfied with the outcome of their stage 2 complaint, they may ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to review their case.

The role of the SPSO is not to resolve complaints, but to look into complaints about organisations providing public services in Scotland. They make recommendations where they find something has gone wrong, to help put things right and try to stop the same thing happening to someone else.

More information can be found on their website: We are Scotland's Ombudsman | SPSO

Request for information 4 and 5:

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600.

All calls and webchats are disconnected at the end of the call. Every call or webchat can be disconnected by either the client calling or the Client Adviser. In order to report on disconnections where the client is cut off by the Client Advisor we would need to listen to every call and review every webchat transcript to create this metric, which would be a huge task. The demographic information of clients is not held within the telephony system.

Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on his website at:

Request for information 6:

All of the information you have requested is available from the Publications page of the Social Security Scotland website: Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

About FOI

Social Security Scotland is committed to publishing responses to requests. The Scottish Government also publishes responses to requests. You can view the responses at

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