Documentation from Attendance Allowance experience panel research: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested


“all documentation shared with, and received from, experience panel members at user research and experience panel events have taken place throughout Scotland during October 2018, including the copies of raw notes, i.e. handwritten notes, surveys, or post-it notes”.



1.    The Attendance Allowance Discovery research involved two online surveys and a series of focus groups that took place in October 2018. Experience Panel members who had previous experience of claiming Attendance Allowance were sent a survey (the ‘opt-in survey’). The opt-in survey asked Experience Panel members how they would like to take part in the research: by completing an online survey, by coming along to a face to face focus group or by arranging a telephone interview.


2.    Experience Panel members who told us in the opt-in survey they would like to attend a focus group received a further confirmation email stating the date, time and location of the event. Experience Panel members who said they would prefer to complete an online survey were sent an invitation to an online survey (the ‘full survey’) which covered much of the same content as the focus groups.


3.    As such, I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested as detailed above. Specifically:

  • A copy of the paper version of the opt-in survey, and a print-out of the contents of the online version of the opt-in survey
  • The invitation email sent to Experience Panel members asking them to come along to a focus group
  • The invitation email sent to Experience Panel members inviting them to complete the full survey
  • A copy of the paper version of the full survey, and a print out of the contents of the online version of the full survey
  • A copy of the information sheet and consent form shared with Experience Panel members at the focus groups


4.    While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance I am unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption(s) under section(s) 27(1) and 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to that information.  The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.





An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test

An exemption under section 27(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested because we intend to publish that information by 2 May which is within 12 weeks of the date of your request. The Scottish Government intends to publish a research report relating to the area of research referenced above within 12 weeks. I consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release this information before the planned publication date.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’.  Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, I have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.  I have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption.  I recognise that there is some public interest in release because there is widespread interest in the development of social security within Scotland, and this will be met by our planned publication.  In the meantime, there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and checked before it is published as planned.  Also, I see no public interest in disrupting our programme of work to release the information ahead of the intended publication date.  

An exemption applies

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party. In this case, the research notes and record of what was said by participants at the research event. These records contain personal information, including sensitive medical information of third parties and was gathered in confidence on the condition of anonymity. Disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.  This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.


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foi-19-00395 Information requested


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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