Carer's Allowance Supplement - evaluation: qualitative research (annex A)

This report presents findings from qualitative research conducted by Ipsos MORI Scotland as part of the wider evaluation of Carer’s Allowance Supplement

2. Methodology

Aims of this qualitative research

This qualitative research is one strand of a wider programme of evaluative research to assess the impact of CAS. It had five main objectives:

1. To provide information on the extent to which carers were aware of CAS and its purpose (see Chapter 3)

2. To provide information on the ways, and extent to which, CAS impacts on carers' financial wellbeing (see Chapter 4)

3. To provide information on the ways, and extent to which, CAS impacts on carers' quality of life including mental health and wellbeing, physical health, and sense of control and empowerment (see Chapter 5)

4. To provide information on the ways, and the extent to which, CAS impacts on carers' feelings of recognition (see Chapter 6)

5. To identify any implications for policy development (see Chapter 7).

What was involved?

In-depth qualitative interviews, lasting around 45 minutes to 1 hour, were conducted with 41 carers. This methodology was felt to be the most suitable approach for three main reasons:

  • It is the most appropriate method for exploring sensitive topics, maximising participants' sense of privacy, and the opportunity for rapport-building between the researcher and the participant
  • It enabled us to include carers from across Scotland, including very remote areas
  • It allowed us to accommodate the round-the-clock responsibilities of some carers.

Fieldwork took place in March and April 2020.

All interviews were conducted by telephone. While the majority of interviews were originally planned to be conducted by telephone, 12 interviews originally planned to be conducted face-to-face were moved to telephone due to the COVID-19 outbreak. To utilise the savings made on researcher travel, an additional five interviews were conducted.

Interviews were conducted by researchers from Ipsos MORI Scotland (the authors of this report), using a flexible topic guide to ensure key issues were covered with each participant. The topic guide is attached at Annex A.

The discussions were audio-recorded with participants' permission and detailed notes were made after each interview, summarising views on key topics. The data collected was systematically reviewed to identify the full range of views expressed.

All carers received £30 as a 'thank you' for their time. They were offered a choice of a BACS transfer or an e-voucher which could be spent online.

Despite the fact that fieldwork took place at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, and 23 of the 41 interviews took place during the resultant lockdown in Scotland, this did not appear to affect the data collected. Carers remained comfortable participating and we were able to conduct focused and in-depth discussions of their experiences of the Supplement in these circumstances. Indeed, its universal relevance helped researchers to build rapport with participants. Further, interviews were purposely focused on perceptions of experiences of previous payments, which were last received in 2019, rather than on participants' current circumstances.

Who we spoke to

All participants were carers who had received CAS within the last year.

Our approach to recruitment involved two strands:

1. From respondents to the 2018 Scottish Household Survey who agreed to be contacted for further research (34 carers were recruited this way)

2. Through gatekeeper organisations, including the Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project (MECOPP) and Lanarkshire Carers' Centre (7 carers were recruited through these two organisations). This approach helped to ensure that we were able to represent carers of different ethnicities.

Table 1.1 Profile of participating carers
Gender Female 32
Male 9
Age 18-34 4
35-54 21
55+ 16
Person caring for Child under 18 10
Adult son or daughter 12
Partner 13
Parent 1
Sibling 1
Friend 1
More than one person 3
Disability or serious long-term health condition Yes 12
No 29
Geographical area Urban[2] 33
Rural 8
The sample included participants from 20 of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland
Ethnicity White Scottish/British 37
White Polish 1
Asian Indian 1
Asian Pakistani 1
Asian Other 1
Total in each category   41

Scope and limitations

Qualitative samples are designed to ensure that a range of different views and experiences are captured. It is not appropriate to draw conclusions from qualitative data about the prevalence of particular views or experiences. As such, quantifying language, such as 'all', 'most' or 'a few' is avoided as far as possible when discussing qualitative findings in this report. Relatedly, while we aimed to ensure some representation across different groups (e.g. by disability and by ethnic group) we are not suggesting it is appropriate to identify patterns or trends in the experiences of these groups.

Furthermore, it must be acknowledged that, while the research seeks to assess the impact of CAS, we are reporting carers' perceptionsof the impacts rather than definitive impacts. When dealing with perceived impacts there is inevitably room for error. There is a risk that impacts may be over or under-stated or misattributed, given the difficulty of individuals accurately identifying and isolating the impact of a specific intervention from all other contextual factors that might influence their behaviour or experience.

We were only able to interview two participants who had started receiving Carer's Allowance after CAS was introduced (April 2018) and so had always received both payments. The findings are therefore based very largely on carers who had experienced the introduction of CAS and who could compare the situation before and after. If CAS was to continue longer-term in a similar form, the impact on those becoming carers in the future might be different (for example, they may not see CAS as a bonus in the same way, and they may not see it as an acknowledgement of their role by the Scottish Government). Similarly, even among carers who received Carer's Allowance before the introduction of CAS, these aspects of its impact may lessen over time as they become more accustomed to receiving it.



Back to top