Publication - Research and analysis

Developing the Social Security Charter: co-design process

Published: 9 Jan 2019

Report on the process used for development of the Scottish Social Security Charter.

Developing the Social Security Charter: co-design process
2. The Charter: Who was involved?

2. The Charter: Who was involved?


The Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 set out who should be involved in the co-design of the charter and this chapter documents the actual participants.

People involved in the co-design of the charter were:

  • people with lived experience of social security;
  • stakeholders - meaning professionals who represent the interests of and work on behalf various communities and interest groups, including people with lived experience of the social security system in Scotland;
  • Social Security Scotland staff.

The work was planned, facilitated and overseen by Scottish Government researchers and policy officials.

People with lived experience of social security

People with lived experience of social security were largely recruited from the Social Security Experience Panels[8]. They:

  • listened to input from professionals and experts and each other;
  • told us their thoughts, opinions and ideas on what a human rights based model of social security that reflected the principles would look like;
  • told us about their key priorities;
  • shaped the on-going co-design work;
  • helped to draft and redraft the charter.

We worked with both small groups and surveyed larger numbers.

The small groups included:

  • a core group of people with a wide range of experiences, perspectives and protected characteristics;
  • people who were unable to participate in the core group.

For larger numbers we undertook a survey of all Experience Panels members.

Core Group

There were two stages of recruitment for the core group. The first recruitment stage is described in the interim report which also sets out the range of 30 people recruited to core group at the beginning. We faced challenges recruiting some seldom heard groups[9]. As such, we undertook initial workshops with the existing group and undertook further recruitment processes in parallel.

The additional recruitment led to the addition of six people, which boosted the LGBTI membership and included young people and people from minority ethnic groups. These members had an intensive capacity building[10] session and a session that covered the work undertaken to date by the core group before they joined in with the core group.

Over the series of workshops 34 individuals attended the core group.

We are unable to set out a precise breakdown of the personal characteristics of this group as the small numbers could lead to disclosure of personal and sensitive information.

We are able to report that the core group when supplemented included a range of disabled people with:

  • mental health conditions;
  • physical health conditions;
  • sensory conditions;
  • and learning conditions.

The group was balanced by gender, age, and urban and rural dwellers. The group included people who are carers of disabled adults and children, a range of people from the LGBTI communities, single parents/carers, people in and out of work, a range of people from minority ethnic groups, including people with experience of the asylum process, and people for whom English is a second language.

Enabling participation beyond the Core Group

The work with the Core Group included seven day-long meetings in Dundee and for some of the groups we wanted to engage with this type of participation wasn't achievable (for example, some couldn't travel or work in groups).

As such and to ensure wider participation in the decision making process we engaged with 26 further people through seven focus groups and six individual interviews. The groups represented in this work were:

  • minority ethnic women;
  • young carers;
  • people with experience of the asylum process;
  • LGBTI people;
  • island dwellers;
  • women who have experienced violence;
  • people with experience of terminal illness; and
  • parents.

Survey of Social Security Experience Panels

We also undertook a survey of all Experience Panel members to ensure that other voices were heard and that as many different experiences and needs were represented. We received 462 replies, giving a response rate of nearly 20%.

The full characteristics of the respondents are set out in Annex C. In brief, the survey achieved a reasonable balance of female (58%) and male (41%) with one percent preferring to describe their gender in another way.

The majority of the respondents were in the 45-59 age group (53%) with reasonable representation from younger groups (16%) and older groups (33%).

Eighty-eight percent of the respondents described themselves as heterosexual with 9% either bi-sexual, lesbian/gay and another way (a further 3% preferred not to answer the question).

Eighty-six percent of respondents were disabled, most with multiple conditions. Ninety-four percent were white, 4% preferred not to tell us their ethnic group and the remaining 2% were a mixture of Other ethnic groups, mixed or multiple ethnic groups, Asian, Asian Scottish or Asian British and Caribbean or Black.


Stakeholders provided feedback, advice and proposals for consideration by the core group. We enabled this role by setting up a stakeholder group, chaired by the Chief Executive Officer of Inclusion Scotland and composed of 27 organisations. We also engaged with a sub group of the Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group (DACBEAG) (see Annex B for a full list of organisations involved in the charter development work).

Social Security Scotland Staff

People working in Social Security Scotland took on three roles, they:

  • sense checked the content of the charter;
  • gave expert communications advice to the core group, and
  • ensured the design was in line with corporate guidance and branding.

Scottish Government Officials

Scottish Government officials, including researchers and policy officials, had a role to facilitate and enable the work.

The Scottish Government policy officials:

  • ensured the process was conducted in line with the terms of the Act;
  • advised people with lived experience on policy and technical matters;
  • liaised with wider social security officials and Ministers; and
  • engaged with key stakeholders to interpret the Act and foster buy-in.

Scottish Government researchers:

  • designed, planned and implemented the co-design research processes;
  • facilitated and enabled people with experience of social security to put forward informed opinions on what the form and content of the charter should be;
  • collected information from stakeholders and Agency staff; and
  • analysed the input, and shared the learning with the people with experience of social security, policy officials and stakeholders to reflect on and to develop the draft charter.


Email: Julie Guy