Survey shows support for NEC changes
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Plans to simplify the National Entitlement Card (NEC) Scheme have received overwhelming support from Scotland’s councils in a recent consultation.

The survey, conducted by the IS, canvassed local authorities on ways to simplify delivery of the NEC scheme and other card-related matters. All councils responded to the survey.

It is over 15 years since the NEC launch in December 2004 as Scotland’s national smartcard scheme. It has grown substantially since then with over 2.2. million cards in circulation today. The cards have a wide variety of branding, logos, symbols, and information overlaid and printed on the card’s front and rear. The result is over 600 variations of card design, which brings with it administrative and operational overheads and adds complexity to the scheme’s delivery. These and other factors prompted our engagement consultation with local authorities across May and June 2020 which included an online survey issued to all 32 local authority Chief Executives.

The consultation found:

  • There is unanimous support (100%) in favour of efforts to remove complexity from the scheme’s delivery.
  • 97% of councils are in favour of a standardised, generic design for the card rear if an opportunity is provided to comment on design options first before any change is applied.
  • Councils’ views were split exactly 50:50 in terms of whether they were supportive or not of the removal of their council’s logo from the card front. Support in favour of its removal increased markedly (65%) if the removal of the logo was applied uniformly across all Councils. When explaining their resistance to the logo’s removal, some local authorities were of the view that, with the card providing access to local services too, the card should reflect the local authority where the cardholder is resident.
  • 26 councils (81%) of councils are supportive of ending paper applications for cards if an online application process is made available.
  • A quarter of councils (8) expressed a preference that the phased removal of paper application forms should take place within 3 months. Eight councils felt the service should be phased out within 6 months, and a further 12 councils felt that that the phasing should take place over a 12 months.

The feedback has helped enormously to develop a solid evidence base with which to work. We hugely value this input given the pressures local authorities are under during Covid-19. It has also provided us with a framework with which to help simplify the Scheme, make it easier to deliver and take costs out of the system. We will, as before, continue to engage and consult with all local authorities before any changes are introduced to the Scheme or to the card.

We are now finalising plans for the launch and roll out across Scotland of, providing an easy way for people living in Scotland to apply online for a card. A phased roll out will see new services and features introduced and made available to other client groups such as Young Scots.

For more information contact: