Background and research methods
The Scottish Government is becoming responsible for some of the benefits currently delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions.
As part of the work to prepare for this change, the Scottish Government set up the Social Security Experience Panels. Panel members are people from across Scotland who have recent experience of at least one of the benefits coming to Scotland. Over 2,400 people registered as Experience Panel members when it launched in 2017. The Scottish Government is working with Experience Panel members to design a new social security system that works for the people of Scotland, based on the principles of dignity, fairness and respect.
In this research project, we conducted focus groups and a survey with Experience Panel members to understand their views on changes of circumstances processes. Building on previous research, we also asked questions about over and underpayments, and debt recovery. These included:
- Views on how Social Security Scotland should remind clients of changes of circumstances
- Views on how clients wanted to notify Social Security Scotland about changes of circumstances
- Views on how Social Security Scotland can minimise stress for clients throughout contact about changes of circumstances
- Views on how Social Security Scotland should respond when it has mistakenly made an under or overpayment
- Views on how Social Security Scotland should recover debt from clients
This report details the findings and key themes that emerged from these survey and focus groups with Experience Panel members.
The Social Security Experience Panels are a longitudinal research project. The panels are made up of volunteers from the Scottish population who have relevant experience. The results of this work should be regarded as being reflective of the experience and views of the participants only, and are not indicative of the views of a wider Scottish population. Percentages are given only to show a broad sense of the balance of opinion across participants.
In total, 37 Experience Panel members took part in 10 focus groups that were held in locations across Scotland between August and September 2019. Focus groups were facilitated by Scottish Government social researchers. To ensure the anonymity of participants was preserved, focus groups were not audio or video recorded. The content of focus groups was detailed by note-takers in attendance.
2,170 Experience Panel members were invited to take part in the survey. Participants could respond online, over the phone or by post. Participation in Experience Panels research is optional, and in this case, 393 people chose to complete the survey (a response rate of 18 per cent of all panel members).
About the participants
Demographic information for the Experience Panel members who took part in this survey is not available for this project. More detailed demographic information on the Experience Panels as a whole can be found in 'Social Security Experience Panels: Who is in the panels and their experiences so far.'