Findings published on 8 May show that, of those who left ratings, 94 per cent of clients who contacted the agency by telephone were happy with the service. Of applicants for the best start grant, 100 per cent of online applicants and 98 per cent of telephone applicants rated the service as good or very good. The staff survey engagement score of 85 per cent positive reveals that staff are motivated and have a strong attachment to the organisation.
There is a long way to go but, at this early stage, those findings show that we are delivering a system that lives up to our values and principles of fairness, dignity and respect.
We should all be proud of those initial findings, which mark a welcome departure from the callous DWP system. What further work is being done to ensure that we continue to deliver a service that is welcoming and inclusive and reflects the diversity of the people that it serves?
Indeed, respect for the dignity of individuals is at the heart of the social security system, and it is great to hear that the people of Scotland have found the system easy, helpful and straightforward. That is welcome news. Everyone involved in delivery in Social Security Scotland should take great pride in the early findings. I place on record once again my thanks to all the staff for their exceptional hard work.
The staff survey data also shows that the agency’s staff are representative of the Scottish working population. For example, 22 per cent of those who completed the survey reported having a long-standing physical or mental health condition, illness, impairment or disability versus 19 per cent in the working population. Those results are encouraging. They give an indication of progress towards the commitments in our social security charter.
On the whole, the report was very positive. However, one of the findings was that only 51 per cent of staff believed that poor performance is dealt with effectively by Social Security Scotland. What steps will the cabinet secretary take to ensure that poor performance is identified and dealt with effectively? Does she have a target for the next staff and clients insights research report?
I take that begrudging welcome for the work of the Social Security Scotland agency from Michelle Ballantyne. It is important that we pay tribute to the staff who have developed such a key service in very busy circumstances.
We will look carefully at all the findings in the staff survey to ensure that we are continuously learning and improving. That is the commitment of the Government and the agency. If only the DWP would do the same.