Coronavirus (COVID-19) support in low income households: evaluation

Qualitative research evaluating a range of policies and support that were delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research looks at how this support impacted on the finances and wellbeing of low income households.

Annex B: Summary interview schedule


If people received specific forms of government-funded support:

  • Can you remember how you found out about it?
  • How did you find the process of applying? Was there anything that made it easy or difficult for you?
  • [If someone references pre COVID experiences] How did your recent experience compare to applying for support before the pandemic? What worked well or less well?
  • Do you think it could have been made easier for you? How?
  • Overall, was it helpful? Did it help with anything particular?

If people have not applied for/did not know about support they might have been eligible for:

  • Were you aware if there might have been help available?
  • [If yes] Can you remember how you found out about it?
  • [If yes and did not apply] And why did you decide not to apply?
  • [If no] And what would have been the best way to share information with you about any help that was available? How? Who?

If people refer to not being eligible for specific forms of government-funded support:

  • Did you apply but were not eligible, or did you decide not to apply?
  • What do you think about who was eligible/about not being eligible?
  • Did it seem fair/reasonable? If yes, why? If not, why not?

Main questions

1. It's been over 18 months now since the first COVID lockdown. We know that things are now starting to open back up, but we'd like to talk to you about what life's been like during the pandemic. Overall, how have you found the last year and a half?

  • How has it affected your wellbeing? What about your family?
  • Has there been anything that has been particularly challenging/difficult?
  • Was there anything/anyone that helped you with the most difficult things?
  • Was there any other help or support that might have been helpful? Any thoughts about who you might have liked to provide that support? Would it still be helpful?

2. Have you [or your partner] been in paid employment at all since the start of the pandemic?

  • Did the pandemic impact on your employment at all? (e.g. furloughed, if so at 80%?, reduced hours, loss of employment, got/started a new job, working from home etc).
  • How did you find this / how did you cope with this?
  • Did having children at home (lockdown, when classes asked to self-isolate etc) have an impact on your work? If so, how?
  • Have you/you your partner received any support, information or advice relating to your/their employment at all over the past 18 months?
  • What is the situation at the moment?

3. How have you been managing childcare during the pandemic?

  • [If there are school age children] How did you find home learning?
  • Did you receive any help or support with home learning? (e.g. laptops/tablets from school, other support to access digital learning platforms, stationary packets from schools).
  • Were there options for your children to go into school/nursery, including at times when not all children were able to attend? If so, did you take up that option? If not, why not?
  • If you were working (at home or outside the home), was your employer understanding of the impact of children being at home? What kind of help/accommodations were they willing or able to make?
  • Did childcare commitments have any impact on how much/when you worked, and if so how?
  • What about informal childcare? Support from family or friends, including sharing childcare? What was the impact of the lockdowns etc? How have you managed?
  • If you have a child/children with particular needs, have there been an additional challenges or pressures? How have you managed? Did you receive any tailored/targeted help or support?
  • Is there anything else that you or your children missed in particular when/if they were not at school/nursery or able to attend other childcare?

4. Have you been caring for/supporting anyone else, including anyone who doesn't live with you, during the pandemic? For example, an older family member or friend, someone who was shielding etc?

  • Were you already providing help/support before the pandemic?
  • What have been the main challenges during the pandemic? Did the people you support receive some help/support from other people/organisations? If not, did you look for help/support?
  • How did you juggle providing help or support to someone else with looking after yourself and your family?

5. How have your housing costs and energy bills been during the pandemic?

  • Overall, how challenging has it been to cover your housing costs?
  • Have you had any changes to your housing costs (rent or mortgage) e.g. any rent or mortgage holidays? If so, did that help at the time, what's the situation/impact going forward? If not, why not – did your landlord/provider offer any options?
  • If you have moved over the last 18 months, why and what were the challenges?
  • What about your energy bills? Have they gone up? How have you managed?
  • Have you received any support around your housing and energy costs at all during the pandemic? e.g.
    • Winter and Spring COVID Hardship Payments,
    • the Low Income Pandemic Payment,
    • the Family Pandemic Payment,
    • protection from eviction for tenants
    • support from charities or local organisations.
  • In particular, did you get any support or advice from your local Council? If so, did they approach you or did you approach them (either directly or via the National Helpline)?
  • If you weren't in contact with your local Council, were you aware that they might have been able to help? Why didn't you contact them?

6. Did you have any difficulties getting the essentials that you needed, such as food, clothes, toiletries, covering transport costs etc, or was this OK?

  • Has it been more difficult/harder during the pandemic than it was before?
  • [If harder]: Why was that? Was it about cost, availability/choice, delivery charges etc?
  • Were there particular areas in which your costs went up (or even down)? If they went up, how did you cope with that?
  • Did having the children at home during lockdown have a big impact?
  • Have you received any support at all to help with essentials during the last 18 months? (e.g. Extension of Free School Meal alternate provision, support from the Freephone national helpline, information or advice from your local Council or another locally based organisation).
  • How is it now?

7. A lot of us were very reliant on doing things over the internet during the pandemic, especially during the lockdowns and with most services closed for face-to-face appointments. How did you and your family find that? Did you have the devices and access to broadband that you needed?

  • [If yes] Did you get any help with what you needed to get online?

For you? For your children, including for home schooling? Laptops, broadband boosts etc? e.g. from Connecting Scotland, devices through schools etc. Were there any issues for you in keeping devices secure?

  • When/if you were doing things online, how easy did you find it to:
    • Find the information you were looking for, especially around support that might be available?
    • Apply for things (help or support for your family or others, including welfare benefits if appropriate, new employment etc).
    • Access any home learning materials that were available from your children's school, or find other useful materials to make home schooling easier?
  • Was there anything that you liked/preferred about accessing information and advice or applying for support online? Is there anything you'd like to see more of, or approaches you'd like to be kept going forward?
  • If you had problems doing things online, or even if you didn't, have you got any suggestions for how sharing information and advice, or applying for support, could be better or made easier for people?
    • In particular, any thoughts about who/which type of organisations would be best placed to share information?
    • Who would you prefer to go to, who would you trust?

8. And overall, has the [various] support you received made it any easier to get through the last 18 months?

  • [If yes] How?
    • What type of difference has it made?
  • Did it help you and your family keep to the guidelines during the first national lockdown and then the guidelines for your local authority area (e.g. Level 0-4)?
  • Did it help if you or your family have needed to self-isolate e.g. because someone had COVID, if you were contacted by Test and Protect and needed to self-isolate etc.?
  • [If not] Why not?
    • Type of support?
    • Amount?
    • Timing?
  • Is there any other type of support that you needed or that you think could have made things easier?
    • Type of support?
    • When was it needed?
    • Who would have been best at providing that support, letting you know about it?

9. How are you feeling now? What about the future?

  • How is your financial situation at the moment? Do you have any particular concerns e.g. debt, backlog of things the family need, things getting more expensive? How are you feeling about the future?
  • What about your employment situation either your current or possible future employment? If currently in work, does it feel secure? Do you have any concerns about your job going forward? If looking for work, or likely to be looking for work in the near future, how optimistic are you that you will find something that suits?
  • How are you/your children finding being in school? Have you been able to find any childcare that you need, either pre-school or out of school care? And how confident do you feel that you will have the childcare you need going forwards?

10. Is there any help or support (that we haven't already talked about) that could make things easier or better for you or your family going forward?

  • What type of support (e.g. financial, help and advice)?
  • Who should offer/provide that support?
  • How would you prefer/be most likely to hear about help or support that was on offer?

11. Is there anything else that we haven't talked about that you'd like to share with us/would like us to know?



Back to top