beta

You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - Research Publication

Analysis of written responses to the consultation on social security in Scotland

Published: 22 Feb 2017
Part of:
Equality and rights, Research
ISBN:
9781786527912

Analysis of responses to a public consultation to inform the content of the new Scottish Social Security Bill.

331 page PDF

2.3MB

331 page PDF

2.3MB

Contents
Analysis of written responses to the consultation on social security in Scotland
2. Outcomes and the user experience

331 page PDF

2.3MB

2. Outcomes and the user experience

Proposal for outcomes and the user experience

2.1 The Scottish Government set out its proposals for outcomes and the user experience in Part 1 of the consultation document.

Question - Are the outcomes the right high level outcomes to develop and measure social security in Scotland? Please explain your answer.

Table 2.1 Are the outcomes the right high level outcomes to develop and measure social security in Scotland?
Yes No
Respondent group Number % Number % Total
Individuals 88 79% 24 21% 112
Organisations 100 88% 13 12% 113
All respondents answering 188 84% 37 16% 225

Note: A full breakdown of responses by respondent group is included in Annex 2 (available to download separately as part of this publication).

2.2 225 respondents answered the closed part of this question. The majority of those responding (84%) thought that the outcomes were the right high level outcomes to develop and measure social security in Scotland. Organisations were slightly more supportive of the outcomes than individuals. There was broad support from the main respondent groups answering.

2.3 172 respondents provided further comments to this question (73 individuals and 99 organisations). Generally, respondents offered support for the approach and the principles, particularly the person-centred approach and the core principles of dignity and respect. However, comments in response to the second part of the question suggest that individuals did not always understand the question.

2.4 The main themes emerging were:

  • general support for the outcomes;
  • the need to monitor and evaluate the outcomes;
  • the importance of using appropriate language; and
  • additional outcomes that could be included.

Reasons for supporting the outcomes

2.5 Commonly, respondents felt that the outcomes were appropriate and used positive, rather than stigmatising, language. They also felt that the principles and outcomes were aspirational and were aiming to address the areas that the current system is lacking.

2.6 A large number of respondents reiterated their support for the overall approach and the outcomes. A few commented specifically on the value of giving people choice and control, which they felt was a valuable long term outcome.

"The outcomes outlined here are welcome in ensuring more humane and dignified treatment of claimants."
Parenting across Scotland

"We especially support the outcomes that enable claimants to be treated with dignity and respect. This is a significant shift in thinking on public policy relating to social security…"
Edinburgh Tenants Federation

Questions about monitoring and evaluation

2.7 Some commented on the monitoring and evaluation of the outcomes. These were mostly respondents who answered 'yes' (mainly local authority respondents), but included respondents who had answered 'no' or had not answered the closed part of this question. These respondents were unsure how all the outcomes could be measured, as feelings of dignity and respect could be subjective. Some respondents said they would have liked more detail on the framework and process for monitoring and evaluation. A few noted that the right data needs to be available in order for the outcomes to be monitored. Directors of Public Health - NHS Boards Scotland noted that, where possible, existing databases and data linkage should be used before filling in any gaps in evidence.

"There is a need for careful planning to ensure outcomes are specific enough to be measurable and that they are not purely aspirational."
Barnardo's Scotland

"Having clear achievable and measurable outcomes are important to ensure that the system is making a difference to people's lives…The details of how the agreed outcomes are measured is important as it determines the data that is collected during the administration process. Some additional work is required to ensure the data required is collectable."
Aberdeenshire Council

Other areas for outcome development

2.8 Some respondents (including respondents who supported the outcomes and those who did not) commented that they felt other outcomes could be included, such as outcomes around:

  • eradicating poverty;
  • support for employability/ financial independence;
  • transparency and accountability;
  • accessibility; and
  • education.

2.9 A few discussed the challenges and issues of working between two social security systems ( UK and Scotland). They felt it would be difficult to deliver a new social security system, with a new and different ethos, alongside the current system, particularly for people on frontline delivery.

"However, the Scottish Government will not be able to deliver the compassionate and equitable system that the Scottish people deserve while embracing the current social security system. The current social security system in the UK is not fit for purpose, and fails many of those whom it is meant to serve."
Citizen's Basic Income Network Scotland

"The desired outcomes are largely commendable…Some may be difficult to deliver e.g. how to determine whether a Scottish system works 'effectively' alongside a reserved system if it happens that their objectives fundamentally diverge?"
Individual

2.10 Some respondents mentioned the use of language. Overall, these respondents felt that the outcomes used the right kind of language and were hopeful that this would be demonstrated throughout administration and service delivery.

"The outcomes follow on from the principles and importantly look at the entitlement of citizens to support rather than using stigmatising language which enforces negativity and makes things worse for people already facing up to particular circumstances."
Scottish Out of School Care Network

Reasons for answering 'no'

2.11 The few who offered reasons for answering 'no', said the outcomes were not strong enough in committing to a person-centred approach. They felt the outcomes were too vague, could be "bolder", or didn't take account of the needs of particular groups.

Question - Are there any other outcomes that you think we should also include (and if so, why)?

2.12 138 respondents answered this question (56 individuals and 82 organisations). In general, respondents were happy with the outcomes but wanted more focused or detailed outcomes. They presented ideas on additional outcomes in a range of areas, as well as commenting more broadly on the principles and approach to social security.

2.13 The ideas (listed in order of how often they were mentioned) included outcomes referring to:

  • accessing information relating to social security, independent advice, advocacy and representation;
  • accountability, transparency and evaluation;
  • access to independent appeals, complaints and review processes;
  • organisational culture, with staff that are respectful and understanding;
  • a stronger focus on improving gender equality;
  • service provision that is of a high quality, meets minimum standards and where incomes meet needs;
  • a system that is streamlined, easy to navigate and avoids unnecessary repetition/reassessment;
  • a system that provides services and benefits quickly, with clear timescales;
  • services that are person-centred, designed around individual needs;
  • eradication (not just reduction) of poverty and inequalities;
  • a system where people are listened to, feel comfortable and free from fear of penalties;
  • a focus on reducing dependency on the system and improving independence and self-management;
  • a stronger focus on improving overall health and wellbeing, and reducing health inequalities;
  • a promise that changes in the new system will not detrimentally affect benefits derived from the reserved system;
  • a recognition of the affordability of the system and value for money;
  • recognition of the role of third sector and other delivery partners; and
  • improved staff training and resources.

2.14 A few respondents said they wanted more detail on how the outcomes would be achieved and what the timescales were for 'short' and 'long' term outcomes.

Question - How can the Scottish social security system ensure all social security communications are designed with dignity and respect at their core?

2.15 192 respondents answered this question (83 individuals and 109 organisations).

2.16 The main themes emerging were:

  • accessibility;
  • language and tone;
  • digital communication; and
  • staff training.

Accessible communication

2.17 A large number commented on the accessibility of communication with social security services. They felt it should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • simple language;
  • consistent language;
  • avoid jargon;
  • plain English; and
  • available in variety of formats (written, face to face, online, telephone) and languages, as required by the individual.

"We know from engagement with these individuals that many letters from the DWP are often inaccessible because of format, insensitive in the language used and complex in comprehension."
Scottish Care

2.18 Some also noted that the system should provide support and advocacy, for those who need it, to understand correspondence and communicate effectively with services.

Language and tone

2.19 Some commented specifically on the tone of the language used in communications. They felt it should be positive and sensitive to individual circumstances, rather than intimidating or stigmatising.

"The Scottish Government has a duty, therefore, to prioritise inclusive communication as well as a responsibility to ensure that the language and tone of communication is respectful, considered and does not stigmatise people."
Scottish Commission for Learning Disability ( SCLD)

"The tone of communication and the culture of the organisation behind the communication, is reflected in the use of language. This language has an impact on individuals. It is important the Scottish social security system gets its language right."
Edinburgh Tenants Federation

2.20 Some respondents reiterated the need for communication to be designed around individual needs, taking a person-centred approach and prioritising the user experience. A few said that communication could be improved if it was more personalised and moved away from 'scripted' conversations.

Digital communication

2.21 Although respondents wanted information available in a variety of formats, some specifically noted that there should not be a presumption that everyone can and will use digital technology. A few mentioned the need for local provision of social security services and information, with the possibility of existing local services ( e.g. post office) providing a local base for information. A few also commented on the cost of phone calls to social security services and felt that there should be free phone / free post options, or the option for someone to call back.

"Online forms are particularly difficult. People MUST be given the genuine choice, of paper copy forms, online forms or the option of attending an office to receive genuine assistance with form filing."
Individual

"Digital first methods of communication are not always appropriate or conducive to the principles of dignity and respect. For example, we have experience of supporting homeless people to apply for crisis loans, which require a mobile phone number. For a homeless person who has little to no possessions this can prove to be a barrier and the potential consequences to someone with support needs can be significant."
Ypeople

2.22 Some respondents also noted that communication would be easier if there was better information sharing and signposting so people were more aware of their rights and the services they can access.

2.23 A few mentioned the importance of recording communications, so that there is a strong record of all correspondence, whichever format it takes place in. And a few noted that correspondence should be timely, and should not leave service users or applicants waiting for long periods of time.

Staff training and support

2.24 A large number of respondents felt that improving the skills and capacity of staff working in the social security service would be beneficial. They felt that training would improve their ability to communicate respectfully and compassionately. A few respondents felt that having staff with particular expertise in different health conditions might help them better understand and anticipate needs. A few felt that the attitudes and behaviour of staff needed to improve, however, there was also recognition from respondents that staff in these services work under difficult conditions, with limited resources and capacity. They felt that if the overall working environment (for staff and services users) and ethos improved, staff would value their role, feel valued themselves and consequently attitudes and behaviour would also improve.

"Embed a strong message through frontline staff and the whole organisation in awareness training on what dignity and respect means to Social Security and to the service users."
CEMVO Scotland

"System needs to be designed so that public facing staff have the skills and resources and belief in what they are doing to be able to afford all users dignity and respect."
Individual

Involvement of service users and stakeholders

2.25 A large number of respondents felt that one of the best ways to improve communication would be to base it around feedback from service users and stakeholders. They felt that service users should be involved in the design process and should continue to inform service development.

Overall culture and ethos towards social security

2.26 Some respondents commented again on the need for a change in culture, believing that people using social security services are not currently recognised as receiving 'entitlements.' Respondents felt that in the current system there is an initial assumption of guilt or wrong doing, rather than a sense that people approach services because they have a genuine need. They hoped that the new social security system would embed the principles at every level and move towards a more positive view of people using social security services, thereby increasing dignity and respect and reducing stigma.

"A social security system must be transparent and supportive for claimants, with development of such a system carried out in consultation with them."
Families Outside

Question - With whom should the Scottish Government consult, in order to ensure that the use of language for social security in Scotland is accessible and appropriate?

2.27 207 respondents answered this question (102 individuals and 105 organisations). The majority of respondents who commented felt that people using social security services should be consulted. Primarily this referred to people currently using the system. It also included:

  • those who do not currently use the system (but have in the past or might in the future);
  • people that may be socially excluded or disadvantaged;
  • people for whom English is not a first language; and
  • people with protected characteristics.

2.28 In addition, some mentioned that carers and families should also be involved in any consultation.

"Consultation regarding all aspects of the social security system and agency should be conducted with those who will be users of the system."
YouthLink Scotland

"It is the users of the system that are best placed to give advice on what does, and does not, work for them."
Inclusion Scotland

2.29 A large number of respondents felt that organisations should also be consulted. This included:

  • support groups and disability organisations;
  • third sector / voluntary organisations;
  • representative, advice and advocacy groups; and
  • organisations that support and represent people with protected characteristics.

"Groups and organisations representing different sectors could help to ensure that the language used matches the preferred languages of their members."
Glasgow City Council

2.30 A range of others were also recommended such as experts in academia, the NHS, law and media. The most commonly mentioned organisations were local authorities and those working in and delivering social security services, with some specifically mentioning welfare rights officers.

2.31 In order to ensure that language was clear and simple, respondents also recommended consultation with the Plain English Campaign and English teachers. Some recommended consulting the wider public, to get a broader range of views and opinions.

Question - Are there any particular words or phrases that should not be used when delivering social security in Scotland? If yes, please state which words or phrases should not be used.

Table 2.2 Are there any particular words or phrases that should not be used when delivering social security in Scotland?
Yes No
Respondent group Number % Number % Total
Individuals 71 77% 21 23% 92
Organisations 77 95% 4 5% 81
All respondents answering 148 86% 25 14% 173

Note: A full breakdown of responses by respondent group is included in Annex 2 (available to download separately as part of this publication).

2.32 173 respondents answered the closed part of this question. Most respondents (86%) said there were particular words that should not be used when delivering social security in Scotland. Organisations were slightly more likely than individuals to say 'yes', but there was broad support from across respondent groups answering the question.

2.33 173 respondents provided further comments on which words or phrases should not be used (78 individuals and 95 organisations). Respondents identified specific words and phrases, and made more general comments about the tone of language that should be taken.

2.34 The main themes emerging were that:

  • language should be positive, clear, jargon-free and sensitive; and
  • language should avoid being stigmatising, judgemental or threatening.

Words and phrases to be excluded

2.35 Respondents felt that the existing system included terms and phrases with negative connotations or which appeared to place blame on individuals accessing social security. They wanted the new system to recognise that social security is a right or entitlement, rather than a "hand-out."

2.36 The most mentioned terms that respondents disliked were:

  • welfare;
  • claimant;
  • benefit;
  • customer or client;
  • sanction; and
  • scrounger.

2.37 Instead of 'welfare' some said they preferred the term 'social security.'

"Given the negative connotations that are linked to the term "welfare" we would support a shift towards using "social security" to describe this policy area. We believe this is a more appropriate description of a system that should be designed to support people to live healthy and fulfilling lives."
HIV Scotland

2.38 Those commenting on the term 'customer' felt it implied that people using social security had choices.

"I also find the use of the term 'customer' by the DWP insulting and a denial of the powerlessness and vulnerability of claimants, including in relation to the DWP. Most of those who claim benefits have little choice but to rely on social security in order to survive and not starve or become destitute."
Individual

Terms attracting mixed views

2.39 There were a few terms which were commented on both positively and negatively. The term 'citizen' was favoured by a few but others disagreed. 'Entitlement' was favoured by a few, with a few disagreeing and feeling that it was not the correct term. Although 'customer' and 'client' were generally disliked, a few were in favour.

2.40 Respondents were against language that they perceived might separate people into groups of good and bad, or deserving and undeserving. They disliked terms such as 'workless' or 'economically inactive'. This was raised with particular reference to people doing valuable unpaid work such as caring or volunteering.

"Great care needs to be taken with the words 'workless' and 'worklessness' to distinguish unpaid work and paid employment. The current UK approach to welfare to work and 'welfare reform' fails to recognise that a massive amount of unpaid work in caring for children, for ill and disabled friends and relatives (most often done by women) or socially worthwhile volunteering goes unrecognised and unrewarded."
Parenting across Scotland

2.41 Some organisations recommended that The Poverty Alliance's 'Stick Your Labels' campaign would be helpful in creating a system with appropriate language. A few organisations noted that the language should be in line with the social model of disability.

Question - What else could be done to enhance the user experience when people first get in touch?

2.42 184 respondents answered this question (99 individuals and 85 organisations).

2.43 The main themes emerging were:

  • accessibility;
  • clear and timely information and signposting;
  • signposting; and
  • waiting times.

Accessibility

2.44 Respondents said that first contact with social security services should be simple and accessible. A large number of respondents commented that engaging with services should be accessible and people should be able to choose their preferred methods of communication. Some also mentioned that communication should be free, particularly phone calls and that the system should allow for and encourage advocates, support workers or others to accompany people to interviews and assessments.

"They should be offered the opportunity to either receive forms to fill out personally, to have them completed over the phone or internet, or to attend a local centre where they could have the necessary assistance."
Individual

2.45 Some respondents wanted shorter waiting times to see or speak to an advisor or to hear back about a query. A few respondents specifically cited the long hold times they had experienced on the telephone.

"Any phone lines should be free for the users - people are unable to access many services currently because they cannot make appointments without phoning up, which they often can't afford."
Individual

Clear and timely information

2.46 A large number of respondents discussed the importance of speaking to an advisor who is friendly, helpful, empathetic, respectful and non-judgemental. A few also commented that the environment of social security centres should be inviting, comfortable and of a high standard. In particular a few respondents commented on the use of security guards, which they felt was not necessary and that buildings should be accessible, with accessible toilet facilities.

"A pleasant tone is a primary requirement in enhancing the user experience."
Individual

2.47 A large number of respondents said that they wanted information to be clear, concise and honest. They wanted advisors to provide information on their query and ensure that the information was provided on:

  • all relevant entitlements and alternative options;
  • signposting to other services, advice and advocacy;
  • the process for receiving social security;
  • the information required and responsibilities of all involved in the process;
  • claimant rights and Charter; and
  • expected timescales.

"Signpost people to other sources of help and support. Make them aware of other benefits they may be entitled to. Crucially, highlight that they are entitled to advocacy support and give them information on this."
MS Society Scotland

"When a user of the service first gets in touch they should be able to do so in a range of ways including speaking to an adviser in the first instance. The response should be timely and the information given on the process of applying should be clear. Users should be told exactly what to expect, how they will be contacted and the timescales for decisions to be made. Ideally there should be a single point of contact."
Barnardo's Scotland

2.48 A few mentioned that communication should be recorded and shared with people making an application, so they can be sure that they have been correctly understood and represented.

"Information given should be accurate, clear and relevant with a follow up paper or e-mail copy if given over the phone."
Aberdeen Action on Disability

2.49 Some respondents also noted that the overall process of getting information and completing applications should be as quick and simple as possible, and should avoid repetition. Some said they would like to have a named advisor or single point of contact for their social security issues, rather than having to repeat themselves to a different advisor each time they contact the service.

"If possible staff should see the same person or at least the staff meeting the person for the first time reads and understands the notes from any previous meetings."
Scottish Older People's Assembly

2.50 A few mentioned that there should be more automated delivery of passported benefits and this should be noted from the first contact.

Question - What else could be done to enhance the user experience when they are in the process of applying for a benefit?

2.51 176 respondents answered this question (101 individuals, and 75 organisations). Some respondents referred directly to their response to the previous question.

2.52 The main themes emerging were:

  • the need for the process and forms to be clear, simple and accessible; and
  • the need for support, advice and advocacy to support the process.

2.53 A large number of respondents wanted the application process and forms to be as simple and straightforward as possible. They commented that information should be clear, accurate, and forms should include clear guidelines to support people.

2.54 Many spoke of the need for social security services to keep them informed and updated about their application. A few noted that it would be helpful to receive written acknowledgement of their application and for applicants to be able to track the progress of their application. In addition, some wanted the application process to be faster and many noted the need for clear timescales to be outlined at the beginning of the process.

"Paperwork can be delayed MASSIVELY in my experience. If someone's been waiting a month for a reply - a courtesy phone call would be nice to alleviate the stress."
Individual

"The claimant should also be advised of how long the application process is likely to take and informed of any alternative sources of support that might be available in the interim..."
CPAG Scotland

2.55 Many felt that there should be support throughout the process, either from the social security agency or through independent organisations. For example, support to help people complete application forms. Some noted that applicants should be made aware of all their rights and entitlements and, where appropriate, should also be signposted to relevant wider support services and organisations.

"They should be made aware of the different methods of claiming benefits and, where appropriate, should be encouraged to make claims in the way that is best suited to them. Signposting or, preferably, seamless referral to advice and representation services in the person's local area."
Perth and Kinross Council

2.56 A few respondents stated that they would appreciate a single point of contact, or direct line of communication with services, and some were keen that measures were taken to reduce repetition and unnecessary information gathering throughout the application process.

2.57 Many reiterated the need for people to be able to access and engage with social security services flexibly, through a range of methods that accommodate their needs and preferences. Similarly, respondents again stressed the importance of well-informed and well-trained staff that behaved respectfully and kindly.

"It is paramount that Social Security personnel are recruited for their people skills to help claimants get through the application process accurately and quickly."
Individual

Question - What else could be done to enhance the user experience when a decision is made?

2.58 166 respondents answered this question (93 individuals and 73 organisations). Some respondents referred directly to their previous answer.

2.59 The main themes emerging were:

  • clear, accessible communication during decision making; and
  • signposting to further support, advice, advocacy and appeals.

Clear communication

2.60 A large number of respondents felt that information and reasoning around decisions should be clearly explained using simple, concise language. Explanations should include clear details of the benefits such as how much it is, the frequency of payment and the timescales involved.

"If the decision is a positive one, this communication should still be handled carefully. For example, it is important to explain how much a person may receive, in what instalments, and at what time. Without this, financial planning is impossible…. It is essential that the reasons for the decision are as explicit as possible."
Cyrenians

"Outcomes of failed claims should clearly present the reasons for such decisions, and if possible, advice on alternative strategies or contact information for further assistance."
Individual

2.61 Some respondents reiterated the need for decisions to be communicated in the manner most suitable for each individual, and a few respondents commented on the need for decisions to also be provided in writing, as well as any other format. A few respondents re-stated the need for a friendly, helpful tone in communication, particularly if the application is denied.

"Decisions should be made available in a variety of accessible formats so that it can be provided to individual disabled people in a format of their choosing."
Inclusion Scotland

Options and signposting

2.62 A large number of respondents discussed the need for people to be provided with information on their options if their application was unsuccessful, in particular, how to challenge the decision or make an appeal. Similarly, many mentioned that people should be provided with information on the next steps to be taken and should be signposted to any relevant support services.

"Also clients not being approved should be given information around the appeals process and where to get support."
Individual

"If they do not meet the criteria for a benefit, this should be explained alongside information on how to appeal the decision and what areas of the application need to be strengthened with evidence or additional information."
MND Scotland

"A clear reasoning for the decision, as well as ways you can appeal if you think it's wrong, with time to appeal before your money is stopped."
Individual

2.63 A few respondents mentioned that it was important that people had access to reviews and appeals, but that they should not be penalised and should not be left without income during the appeal process.

2.64 Some also noted that people should be provided with information on their entitlements to other benefits, particularly passported benefits, and how the decision may affect any benefits they currently receive. As mentioned previously, some respondents commented on the need for decisions and processes to be timely and efficient.

Question - What else could be done to enhance the user experience when they are in receipt of a benefit?

2.65 144 respondents answered this question (83 individuals and 61 organisations). Some respondents referred to their previous response.

2.66 The main themes emerging were:

  • the level of follow-up communication and reviews;
  • rights and responsibilities for maintaining social security support; and
  • the way payments are made.

Communication

2.67 Many respondents commenting on communication were in favour of some form of regular, friendly updates and follow-ups from the social security agency whilst in receipt of benefits. These included annual updates, reviews or monthly statements, similar to a bank statement. Respondents felt that people should be provided with information on their right to appeal, signposted to relevant services and any other benefits they may be entitled to.

"An element of regular review. This need not be the daunting experience it currently is - and much of this depends on the personality of the officer the claimant meets with."
Grampian Housing Association

2.68 A few respondents felt strongly that there should be minimal communication once a person was in receipt of benefit, particularly if they have a lifelong condition that does not change.

"People with conditions that are never going to improve should not have to be re-assessed anyway, unless it is because it has worsened and they may be entitled to more help."
Individual

2.69 Some respondents restated the importance of clear information, with communication taking place through the preferred methods of each individual. Some reiterated the value of well-trained, approachable and helpful staff. Respondents again commented on the need to be treated respectfully and not to feel that there is an assumption of guilt or wrongdoing.

"It feels constantly temporary as if someone will come and take it all away. Even if it is a lifelong condition you feel it is so fragile and heartless. The worry is huge.
Individual

"Being treated as a human being, with dignity."
Individual

Responsibilities

2.70 Many respondents discussed the responsibilities of individuals and the social security agency with regards to changes in benefits. They felt that it should be made clear what recipients' rights and responsibilities are. People should be made aware of things that may affect their benefits, what to do if their circumstances change, and reporting any changes should be simple. Similarly, respondents said that people should be made aware of any changes to their benefits with plenty of notice, and with clear explanations.

Payments

2.71 Some respondents mentioned the need for payments to be made efficiently and in a timely manner, in particular for missed payments to be re-paid as soon as possible. A few mentioned that people should have choice and flexibility on how payments are received and how they access services.

2.72 Some commented that clear information should be provided to recipients, particularly on any review processes or how to re-apply if necessary. They felt there should be a clear, simple route for enquiries. A few respondents reiterated their preference for a single point of contact.

Question - What else could be done to enhance the user experience in general?

2.73 42 respondents provided a general response to this question (4 individuals and 38 organisations). Generally, respondents felt that a simpler, quicker, more efficient system, with less need for repetition would improve the user experience. They wanted forms to be shorter and for questions to be less confusing. A few respondents reiterated the need for a range of accessible communication methods to be available.

2.74 Similar to previous responses, respondents commented on the importance of people being made aware of their rights ( e.g. to reviews and appeals), their responsibilities and being signposted to relevant advice, support and advocacy. Respondents felt that staff should be highly skilled and should treat applicants fairly and respectfully.

2.75 In addition, respondents also mentioned the need for:

  • local support and assessments;
  • freephone services;
  • options to track applications online;
  • monitoring of the user experience, in order to improve it;
  • secure data sharing;
  • a named contact; and
  • timely information and decisions.

Question - How should the Scottish social security system communicate with service users?

2.76 217 respondents answered this question (108 individuals and 109 organisations). Almost everyone who responded commented that there was a need for a range of different communications, which should be chosen by the individual. They felt that this choice should be made early on at the first point of contact with social security services.

"The system must communicate with people in the way that suits them best, offering a range of options to citizens and allowing them to choose which one best suits their needs."
Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector

"In as many ways as possible, giving the user control over options, easy to opt in or out of a different method."
Individual

2.77 The range of communication methods mentioned by respondents included letter, telephone, face to face, email, text, via social media, live web chat and podcast.

2.78 The range of accessible formats respondents mentioned included large print, easy read, BSL video relay, TypeTalk, audio description and braille.

2.79 A large number of respondents commented on the need for communication to be available in accessible formats, suitable to the needs of the individual.

"The message coming from CAB [Citizens Advice Bureau] clients and advisers is that users would like a choice of communication methods. A 'one-size fits all' approach excludes those who have varying capabilities, as has been outlined above."
Citizens Advice Scotland

"We believe that it is essential that the methods of communication used by the new system are as inclusive as possible."
Scottish Commission for Learning Disability ( SCLD)

2.80 Although some spoke of the value and cost-effectiveness of digital communication, there was recognition from a large number of respondents that this may not be the most suitable method for all people, and other options should be available. In particular, there was acknowledgement that digital methods (including mobile phone calls or texting) are not always accessible for people on low incomes, disabled people, homeless people, people in rural areas and older people.

"Many people won't have access to technology, including refugee women and other low-income groups."
Engender

2.81 Where respondents favoured a variety of methods, they felt that each method should be used appropriately, for different purposes. Examples provided included text messages for reminders, email to upload and share documents, face to face for more in-depth discussions, social media for promotion or general information sharing.

2.82 Some respondents felt that in addition to any stated preferences, communication should also always be provided in written format, so that people have a hard copy to refer to, share with others, or use as evidence.

"Communication should be by a method agreed by the client. For many purposes formal stuff has to be in writing, as copies may be required to access grants, and copies can be kept safe by carers."
Individual

2.83 A few mentioned that communication with social security services should be free e.g. free phone telephone numbers.

Question - What are your views on how the Scottish Government can ensure that a Scottish social security system is designed with users using a co-production and co-design approach?

2.84 182 respondents answered this question (72 individuals and 110 organisations). A large number stated explicitly that they were in favour of the proposed approach and felt positive about the idea of co-production and co-design with service users.

"Sounds like an excellent approach. Learn from users, make use of existing knowledge and systems and develop incrementally and iteratively."
Individual

2.85 The main themes emerging were:

  • involvement of service users;
  • involvement of relevant organisations; and
  • requirements for meaningful engagement.

Involving service users

2.86 Some wanted co-production and co-design to be a continuous, on-going process in the new social security system and a few commented on the value of on-going monitoring and evaluation.

"In order to ensure that co-production happens in a meaningful and active way it must be inherent throughout the process, not just at the design stage."
Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (The ALLIANCE)

2.87 Respondents discussed both setting up new user panels/groups and making use of existing forums to engage with service users.

Involving stakeholder organisations

2.88 As well as consulting with services users, a large number of respondents mentioned that others involved in service delivery, design or support should also be involved in co-production, such as frontline staff, carers and third sector services. Some felt that third sector and representative organisations also had a role to play in supporting and facilitating discussions.

"These organisations not only have access to users, but are also trusted by users and can help to facilitate a conversation that is accessible, comfortable and not alienating."
Citizens Advice Scotland

Requirements for meaningful engagement

2.89 Many mentioned that for co-production to work it would require partnership working between many agencies to ensure that participants were well supported and covered a wide range of views. Supporting services users to participate was a key issue and respondents wanted to ensure that user groups or panels represented the wide range of people using services, including those most vulnerable, and often least likely to take part.

2.90 Some noted the need for the co-production process to result in real, implemented changes from the bottom up, and for it not to be tokenistic. Although most respondents were in favour of the approach, some noted that the government needed to be realistic in its approach and should acknowledge the requirement for skills, capacity and resources to effectively co-produce the new social security system.

"The development of co-production and design requires investment of time and resources to enable meaningful participation."
Scottish Women's Aid

"For co-production to be an effective approach there must be appropriate capacity building and support put in place to enable participants, especially older individuals, to fully maximise their contribution and capacity."
Scottish Care

2.91 A few respondents noted the need to make use of learning from other models such as the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency ( NISSA) and Scottish Welfare fund, both what worked well and what did not.

Question - We are considering whether or not to adopt the name 'User Panels'. Can you think of another name that would better suit the groups of existing social security claimants which we will set up?

2.92 164 respondents answered this question (78 individuals and 86 organisations).

2.93 A large number of respondents offered an alternative name for 'User Panels', feeling that the term 'user' was passive, pejorative and had negative connotations. A few also commented that people beyond service users should be part of the panel and the name should reflect that. However, views on alternative names were very varied. The most popular option, suggested by just a few respondents, was 'Claimant Panel' as respondents felt this kept the terminology consistent with the Claimant Charter. A full list of suggestions is included as Appendix 2.

2.94 The most cited options were:

  • Claimant Panel;
  • Advisory Panel;
  • Citizen Panel;
  • Client Panel;
  • Customer Panel;
  • Focus Group;
  • Peer Group;
  • Service User Panel;
  • Stakeholder Groups;
  • Participant Panel; and
  • Stakeholder Panel.

2.95 Some respondents stated that they thought the name 'User Panel' was appropriate.

2.96 A few felt that the group itself would be best placed to decide on a name, and a few said that the name was less important than the approach taken or the outcomes that were produced.

"However, we acknowledge that the name of the panel does not matter as much as the way members of the panel are treated and represented and the respect given to members of the panel and their lived experience and expertise."
Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights

"What it's called doesn't matter, what it does, does."
Individual

2.97 Some local authority respondents questioned how the 'User Panels' would be different from the 'Advisory Panels' mentioned elsewhere in the consultation document, and wished for further clarification.


Contact

Email: Trish Brady-Campbell