Publication - Research and analysis

Best Start Grant - interim evaluation: qualitative research (annex B)

Published: 15 Dec 2020

Qualitative research supporting the findings from the interim evaluation of the Best Start Grant.

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65 page PDF

760.4 kB

Contents
Best Start Grant - interim evaluation: qualitative research (annex B)
2 Methodology

65 page PDF

760.4 kB

2 Methodology

2.1 Research aims and objectives

The overarching aim of the research was to understand the experience of families who have received one payment per child from the Best Start Grant (BSG) in the first 18 months of the benefit. These families may have received more than one payment overall if they have more than one child of qualifying age.

More specifically, the research aimed to explore and understand:

1. The impact BSG payments have had on the household finances of recipients at early transition points in children’s lives

2. How recipients have spent BSG payments

3. Whether BSG payments have enabled children to participate in social and educational opportunities that they otherwise would have been unable to participate in

4. Whether BSG payments have prompted any health and well-being benefits for recipient families and their children.

In addition to the four research aims, the Scottish Government set out nine research objectives and eight research questions. The research aims, objectives and questions are mapped out in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Research aims, objectives and questions
Research Aims Research Objectives Research Questions
1. To understand the impact BSG payments have had on the household finances of recipients at early transition points in children’s lives. To explore and identify the ways and extent to which BSG payments have impacted on recipients’ household budgets at critical transition points in their child’s life.
To explore and identify whether the impact of BSG payments on recipients’ household finances varied by family circumstances/characteristics.
To what extent and in what ways have BSG payments impacted on the household finances of recipients at critical transition points in their child’s life?
Does the impact BSG payments have on the household finances of recipients at critical transition points in their child’s life vary by family circumstances/characteristics?
2. To understand how recipients have spent BSG payments. To explore and identify what goods or services families bought with their BSG payments and their reasons for choosing these goods or services.
To explore and identify whether the goods or services families bought with their BSG payments, and their reasons for choosing these goods or services, varied by family circumstances/characteristics.
To what extent and in what ways have the goods or services families bought with their BSG payments, and their reasons for choosing these goods or services, varied by family circumstances/characteristics?
3. To understand whether BSG payments have enabled child to participate in social and educational opportunities that they otherwise would have been unable to participate in. To explore and identify the ways, and extent to which, BSG payments have enabled children to participate in social opportunities available where they live.
To explore and identify the ways, and extent to which, BSG payments have enabled children to participate in educational opportunities available where they live.
To what extent and in what ways have BSG payments enabled children to participate in social opportunities available where they live?
To what extent and in what ways have BSG payments enabled children to participate in educational opportunities available where they live?
4. To understand whether BSG payments have prompted any health and well-being benefits for recipient families and their children. To explore and identify the ways, and extent to which, BSG payments have led to families making behavioural changes that are known to increase health and well-being (e.g. healthy food choices, participating in sport and exercise).
To explore and identify the ways, and extent to which, BSG payments have impacted on recipient families’ experience of stress and anxiety.
To what extent and in what ways have BSG payments led to families making behavioural changes that are known to increase health and well-being (e.g. healthy food choices, participating in sport and exercise)?
To what extent and in what ways have BSG payments impacted on recipient families’ experience of stress and anxiety?
5. To understand the implications of the research finding for policy and practice regarding the Best Start Grant. To explore and identify any implications or research findings for policy and practice. What are the implications of research findings for policy and practice?

2.2 Research ethics

An application was submitted to NatCen Research Ethics Committee (REC) in early January 2020. Ethical approval for the research was granted by NatCen REC in late January 2020.

2.3 Recruitment

The research brief for the evaluation outlined that it may be possible to draw a sample of BSG recipients from the Social Security Scotland Satisfaction Survey being developed by Social Security Scotland. After discussion between the Scottish Government and ScotCen, it became clear that the sample information would not be available in time to assist the evaluation. As a result, ScotCen worked collaboratively with parenting and other gatekeeper organisations to recruit participants for the research.

A list of gatekeeper organisations, were identified by ScotCen[8]. Each organisation was initially contacted by email by a member of the research team and followed up, where necessary (or by request), by telephone to facilitate support for recruitment of BSG recipients. Any organisations able to support ScotCen with recruitment were provided with a clear and simple information sheet and privacy notice to distribute to interested respondents[9]. A weblink to an online version of these materials was also provided. In addition, organisations were offered a poster, promotional text and images to help promote the research to parents and carers in receipt of BSG in person, via emails and newsletters and on social media. All recruitment materials were written in lay language to make them accessible to a wide audience.

Organisations that agreed to promote the study informed parents and carers in receipt of BSG, and interested in the evaluation, to contact the research team directly, in order to discuss their possible participation in interviews. A few organisations offered to collect contact details of interested parents and carers, and with their consent, pass them securely to the research team (e.g. via a secure FTP folder). Everyone who expressed an interest in the research was sent an electronic copy of the information sheet and privacy notice and/or a link to an online version of these materials. All potential respondents were given the chance to speak to a member of the research team in advance to ask questions and enable them to make an informed decision on whether to participate in the evaluation. In order to participate in an interview, individuals had to be age 16 or above, have received at least one BSG payment and be able to provide informed consent to participate. A suitable time and date for an interview to take place was agreed with interested parents and carers.

2.4 Conducting the research

The interview topic guide was developed in January 2020 in consultation with the Scottish Government. The interview explored BSG recipients’ experiences of receiving a BSG, including:

  • The process of applying for and receiving BSG payments including what has worked well, any barriers encountered in accessing BSG and any facilitating factors
  • The range of ways BSG recipients spent their payments (including any social and educational activities children of BSG recipients have participated in)
  • The perceived impact of BSG payments on the finances of recipients, particularly at key transition periods of a child’s life
  • The perceived impact of BSG payments on the health and well-being of recipient families and their children
  • Any other perceived impact of BSG payments on the recipient families and their children
  • Any unexpected issues that have arisen from claiming for and being awarded BSG payment(s)
  • Recipients’ views of what modifications may be required to improve the BSG application award process and operation in the future.

Interviews were primarily going to be conducted face-to-face in the homes of parents and carers. However, as a result of lockdown related to Coronavirus (COVID-19), NatCen took an organisational decision from 17th March that all face-to-face fieldwork would be paused. As a result, in agreement with the Scottish Government, all interviews with BSG recipients that took place after 17th March were conducted by telephone[10].

Interviews took place at times and dates convenient for respondents. Researchers were available throughout the day and evenings to accommodate the preference of respondents. All interviews were conducted by members of ScotCen’s research team who are well trained and highly experienced in conducting qualitative interviews with a range of groups, including those deemed vulnerable or seldom heard.

On the day of a scheduled interview, before the interview began, the interviewer checked that the respondent had received and had a chance to read the project information sheet and privacy notice (either electronically or online). Respondents were reminded that the interview was confidential and would not affect the benefits or services they received. After the interview, all respondents received a £30 Love2Shop voucher as a thank you for giving up their time and an electronic useful contacts leaflet[11]. With the consent of respondents, all interviews were audio recorded using an encrypted digital recorder and transcribed for ease of analysis[12]. Verbal consent was recorded at the start of each interview. The average length of interview was 32 recorded minutes, with the longest interview lasting one hour.

2.5 Analysis

Qualitative analysis requires a robust and systematic approach which can be documented and demonstrated to an external audience. To achieve this, all transcripts were imported into and coded using NVivo 10, a software package for qualitative data analysis. This system of coding facilitates the organisation and analysis of qualitative transcripts and provides a tool to explore the range and diversity of views expressed by respondents. Firstly, the key topics and issues which emerged from the research objectives and the data were identified through familiarisation with transcripts by members the research team. A draft analytical framework was drawn up by the research team and piloted on the first few transcripts. The analytical framework was then refined after discussions within the wider project team. Once the analytical framework was finalised, each transcript was coded so that all the data on a particular theme could be viewed together.

Through reviewing the coded data, the full range of views and attitudes described by respondents were systematically mapped, and the accounts of different respondents, or groups of respondents (for example, those with divergent views of the impact of BSG payments), compared and contrasted.


Contact

Email: socialresearch@gov.scot