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Scottish Child Payment - interim evaluation: annex B - qualitative research

Qualitative research supporting the findings from the interim evaluation of Scottish Child Payment.

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Annex A: Discussion guides

Parents/carers discussion guide (depth interview)

Introduction (5 minutes)

  • Introduce self and Ipsos MORI
  • Introduce the research: The Scottish Government wants to hear about the experiences of people who receive Scottish Child Payment. It has commissioned us (Ipsos MORI) to carry out research to help assess its impact on children, parents and caregivers. This interview will allow us to hear in a bit more depth about your experience and your thoughts on the payment. The anonymised findings will be published as part of an evaluation of SCP that will inform the planned rollout of the payment in Scotland.
  • Explain that the interview will last about 1 hour. Remind them that they will get £30 paid in cash or as an Amazon voucher depending on their preference as a 'thank you'.
  • Provide reassurances of anonymity and confidentiality. Explain that no identifying information about individuals will be passed on to anyone outwith the Ipsos MORI research team, so it will not be possible for the Scottish Government or anyone else to identify individuals in any reports that Ipsos MORI produce. Notes and audio files will be securely stored and securely deleted one year after the research finishes.
  • Remind participant that they don't have to answer any questions they don't want to answer, and that they are welcome to stop the interview at any time.
  • Request permission to record interview. Explain that this is for transcription and analysis purposes and that recordings will not be shared outside the research team at Ipsos MORI.

Participant's background (7 minutes)

Firstly, it would be great if we could get some background on your life as a parent [/care-giver].

  • Could you tell me a bit about yourself?

Probes:

  • Where do you live and who do you live with?
  • For which child/ren do you receive SCP?
  • If other children mentioned: Can you confirm that you do not receive SCP for your other child(ren)? And could you confirm their age(s)?
  • If no other children mentioned: Can you just confirm you don't have any other children under 18?
  • How much of the childcare do you generally do day-to-day?

Prompts: Do you do most of the childcare/ sharing it broadly equally with someone else? Or does somebody else do most of the childcare?

  • Could you tell me a bit about any other responsibilities you may have in your life?

Prompts:

  • Other caring responsibilities including childcare of other children
  • Working
  • Studying
  • How long have you been receiving Scottish Child Payment?

Awareness of SCP (5 minutes)

I'd now like to ask some questions about the Scottish Child Payment.

  • What, if anything, do you know about the Scottish Child Payment?

Probes:

  • Do you know what makes a person eligible for SCP?
  • How much money is the payment?
  • How is it paid?
  • Do you know where the money comes from/who pays for it?
  • Can you tell me about how you first became aware of SCP?

Probes:

  • When and how did you first hear about it?
  • If heard about it through a letter/email/phone call or otherwise through social security scotland: Was it clear what it offered? Was anything unclear?
  • What were your initial reactions to it?
  • Were you involved in applying for the payment?

Application process (5 minutes)

  • If involved in applying Was there anything at all that was difficult/off-putting about the process?
  • Did you have any reservations about applying?
  • How did you find the application process itself? How easy or difficult was it?

Probes if necessary:

  • How did they know/find out they were eligible?
  • Was the information clear?
  • Did they get help applying?
  • How did they find out about results?
  • Did it take long to find out?
  • What was the communication like on progress/outcome?
  • How long to receive the payment after outcome, and was it clear when it would be received?
  • How do they feel about the method of payment?
  • What was good/bad about the overall process.
  • When did you start receiving it?

All

  • Are you the recipient of SCP personally or does somebody else in your household receive it?
  • When did you or somebody else in your household start receiving it?
  • We're going to go into more detail about this later, but what impact would you say that SCP has had impact on your life and on your child's wellbeing?

How SCPis spent/financial impact (15 minutes)

Do you remember when you last received the Scottish Child Payment? If not mentioned in previous section: How much money was the payment?

How, if at all, has your financial situation changed as a result of receiving Scottish Child Payment?

Prompts:

  • Level of worry about money
  • Ability to pay bills/meet household expenses, ability to pay off debts
  • Ability to spend on nice things/activities/social activities
  • Ability for you/another family member to take part in educational/training opportunities
  • Thinking about how the payment is spent, whose decision is it about how the payment is spent?

If involved in spending decisions: So, just to reassure you the Scottish Child Payment is not intended to be spent in any specific way, and it's completely up to you how you choose to spend it.

  • How did you spend it or plan to spend it?

Prompts:

  • Day-to-day expenses e.g. groceries, bills, household essentials
  • Family activities
  • Clothing for yourself/your child
  • Toys/books
  • Summer holidays/days out
  • Paying off debts/loans or avoid debts/loans
  • Enabled you to do a course/get work experience
  • A treat for yourself

If used it towards purchases: And when you go shopping do you use small local businesses at all?

If yes: Has the SCP helped you to do this/do this more often?

  • If nothing specific mentioned: Or has SCP contributed to your spending in a more general sense, such as enabling you to spend a bit more on weekly shopping, or meaning you don't have to cut back on something you would otherwise have to?
  • Have you saved it?
  • If they give an answer to the previous question:
    • So, you spent the payment on [x]. What would you have done about [x] if you hadn't received Scottish Child Payment?

Prompts: gone without it? spent other money on it? Gone without something else to pay for it?

  • And what difference did [x] make to you?
  • Did you plan in advance how you were going to spend the payment?
  • Would you say it has improved your lifestyle at all?
  • Would you say that you rely on Scottish Child Payment at all?
  • Has your use of the payment been affected by COVID-19 restrictions at all?
  • SCP payments are made every four weeks. Do you have any idea how you might be likely to use the next payment?

Child wellbeing impacts (8 minutes)

The next questions are about your child's wellbeing and any impact the SCP has had in that area

  • Would you say that SCP has had any impact on your child's physical health or wellbeing?
    • Firstly thinking about their physical wellbeing.

Prompts: being able buy healthier food, be more active e.g. using a leisure centre/going to a baby class, to look after their health better (e.g. travel fare to doctor)/ buy other essentials?

  • And what about their emotional wellbeing?
    • Prompts e.g. better opportunities to play and have fun, able to take part in activities with other children their age
  • Would you say that SCP has had any impact on your own sense of wellbeing or on how you feel?

Impact on labour market outcomes for recipient or their family (5 minutes)

And now thinking about something different…

  • Has the payment helped towards anybody in your household staying in or starting work, work experience or volunteering?

Prompts:

  • Cost of travel expenses
  • Helping towards childcare cover
  • And have you or anybody else used it towards any training or education?

Prompts:

  • Helping towards the costs of a course
  • Helping towards childcare cover
  • Buying books
  • Enabling you to pay for online learning resources/apps
  • Learning a new skill

Awareness/uptake of other benefits/services (5 minutes)

I'd like to move on and talk about something else now.

  • Were you receiving other benefits (such as Universal Credit or Child Tax Credits) before applying for SCP?
  • If not previously in receipt: When applying for SCP did you receive any advice/support on applying for any of these?
  • If previously in receipt of qualifying benefits: Were you given any advice about any other benefits you weren't receiving previously, when applying for SCP?
  • Prompts: Best Start Grant/ Best Start Foods/ Advice services e.g. Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Follow up: were you aware that Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods are part of a package of benefits called the 'five family payments'? (Scottish Child payment, Pregnancy and baby payment, Early learning payment, School age payment, Best start foods)
  • Have you taken up any other forms of help or support since applying for SCP? Explore fully

Prompts: Advice services on eligibility/referrals to Citizens Advice Scotland, Money Talks and other services for advice on benefits and general support

If yes: Were you directed to these by someone who supported your application for SCP, or did you find it on your own?

Wrap up (5 minutes)

We're nearing the end of our interview; I just have a few final questions to wrap up.

  • If you were to try and sum up the impact of the Scottish Child Payment on your family's life, what would you say?
  • As COVID restrictions have started to ease, has this had any impact on how you use SCP?
  • Looking ahead as COVID restrictions continue to ease further, do you think this will have any (further) impact on how you use SCP?
  • Is there anything you would like to feed back to the Scottish Government about your experience of the Scottish Child Payment?

Thank and close

  • Would you prefer a BACS payment or an Amazon voucher?
  • If bacs transfer take down details
  • We'll order the transfer/voucher from our finance department. It might take 2 or 3 weeks to arrive as our finance department isn't the fastest, but we will get it to you.
  • Finally, is there anything else you would like to raise about the things we've discussed today?
  • And would you be happy to be recontacted about potential follow up research for the Scottish Government? (Of course you would be free to say no at that stage)

SCP third sector representatives discussion guide (depth interview)

Introduction

  • Introduce self and Ipsos MORI
  • This research has been commissioned by the Scottish Government to inform an early evaluation the impact of the Scottish Child Payment and investigate recipients' experiences of the benefit before the planned rollout
  • The Scottish Government are particularly interested in the experiences of a range of specific groups including kinship carers, ethnic minority parents, young parents, lone parents, LGBT parents, families with a disability etc.
  • We are speaking to professionals from a range of organisations working with eligible families, like yourself, about your views and experiences on the SCP
  • We also plan to interview SCP recipients and will explain a little more about that at the end, as we are looking for help in reaching SCP recipients for that phase of the project
  • Participation is voluntary – all questions are optional, you do not have to answer anything you do not wish to, and we can finish the interview at any time
  • There are no right or wrong answers – we just want to know what you think
  • Ensure confidentiality and anonymity – no identifying information will be passed onto the Scottish Government. However, we would like to:
    • Include some anonymous quotes from stakeholders, if that's OK with you.
    • And include a list of organisations we spoke to.
  • If you feel that anything you say is potentially identifiable of you/your organisation, and you would rather it wasn't quoted or referred to directly, or that you don't want your organisation listed as one we spoke to, then just let me know. I can also share a copy of my notes with you if you would like.
  • Request permission to record – recording will not be shared with anyone outside the research team and will be securely deleted after the research is complete.
  • At start of recording – record permission to record and confirm

Quick recap of key points of the SCP

  • Introduced in November 2020, payments started in February 2021
  • It is an additional benefit worth £10 a week (paid every four weeks) to families in Scotland who (a) are responsible for a child under six and (b) on eligible benefits (Universal Credit, certain legacy benefits, and/or Pension Credit)
  • The Scottish Government have pledged to double the value of the payment over the course of the current parliamentary term – eventually extending it to all families with a child under 16
  • Aims to tackle child poverty and material deprivation amongst other social and economic objectives

Warm up (organisation and knowledge of SCP)

I'd like to start by hearing a little about what you do.

  • Please can you describe what your organisation does?
  • And briefly, what your role involves?
  • What kinds of contact do you / your organisation have with parents/caregivers of children under 6, on eligible benefits in Scotland?

Awareness and involvement of SCP

Now moving on to think about Scottish Child Payment

  • Before I contacted you about this interview, how much did you know about the Scottish Child Payment?
  • Can you remember how/when you first became aware of the SCP? What were your initial impressions?
  • And how, if at all, has the Scottish Child Payment featured in your job?
  • Probe: Have you been involved in supporting clients to apply for SCP?
  • Probe: And have you helped any families to claim the payment?

Views of the application and payment process

I'd like to start by asking you about your eligible families – beginning with your views on how they become aware of the SCP

  • From what you have heard, do you know which of your families are in receipt of the SCP? How many of your families do you believe to be?
  • And does this differ from how many you believe would be eligible?
  • As far as you know, how do they generally find out about the SCP? Who informs them about it? When do or did they find out? Is this the same for all families?
  • Do you think people understand what is being offered?
  • From what you are aware of, what, if any, initial reactions did your clients have to the SCP?
  • Probe for positives and negatives
  • Were you aware of any questions/uncertainties raised? Or any reservations or concerns? Probe for details

Thinking about the publicity….

  • Generally, what are your impressions of how it is publicised?
  • Do you think the communication around the payment is clear, effective, and appropriate for your eligible families? Why/Why not?

Probe for any strengths/weaknesses in terms of:

  • the format(s)/media used
  • the wording/language used in communications
  • timing of communications
  • targeting eligible families

From what you have observed, is the publicity clear/unclear regarding:

  • Eligibility for the SCP?
  • How much families will receive?
  • How frequently it would be paid?
  • How the application process works?
  • How it can be used by families?
  • When payments would start
  • That it would not affect other benefits

Do you have any suggested improvements around the publicity to make it clearer or more accessible?

How easy or difficult is it for people you work with who are on other eligible benefits to access the SCP?

  • Probe fully – are there any barriers to accessing it? Are these barriers same for everyone – or do they affect some more than others? Which groups? Why, in their opinion, do these barriers arise?
  • Probe for: Barriers at the communication stage and barriers at the application stage
  • Has anybody had difficulty claiming/receiving it after application?

Are you aware of any eligible families that have not applied for it yet?

  • Do you know why they haven't applied?
  • Is there anything (else) you think is potentially off-putting about it?

Probe for: application process, eligibility criteria, amount paid, frequency of payment, views on its purpose/how it is intended to be used, any concerns around privacy/stigma around taking it up

  • Anything that could be done generally to promote greater uptake/make it easier to apply?

Perceptions of the impact of SCP

From what you have seen and heard, to what extent has it made any difference to your clients generally? Why/how?

And to what extent if any do you think it has had an impact in the following areas….

  • Helping to reduce stress in families that may impact children (e.g. financial stress)?
  • Helping to increase participation in social, educational and cultural opportunities?
  • Whether the main carer of the child receives the payment and/or has influence over how the money is spent?
  • Improving the position of main carers of children within the household?

From what you have seen and heard, to what extent if any would you say SCP is helping families escape poverty and material deprivation?

Probe on:

  • Any impacts of payments on household budgets (Probe for specific details)
  • The impact of payments on reducing or avoiding debt
  • The impact of payments on labour market outcomes for recipients or their families. (Explore fully)
  • Whether the COVID-19 pandemic might have reduced/offset the impact of SCP

Wider impacts of SCP

And from what you have observed, do you think there is evidence that applying for SCP has raised awareness about other forms of support that clients are entitled to?

Probe on:

  • Take-up of devolved benefits like the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods
  • Advice given to clients on applying for qualifying reserved benefits (if relevant)
  • Referrals to Citizens Advice Scotland, Money Talks and other services for advice on benefits and general support
  • Does the impact vary for different types of families/families in different circumstances? How/why? EXPLORE FULLY

Ideas for improvement

Finally, I'd like to get your thoughts on any potential improvements for SCP.

Thinking about current arrangement (for under 6s), but also looking ahead to the roll out to under 16s, and as the payment amount is doubled…

  • Are there ways that the Scottish Child Payment offer could be improved for eligible parents? Explore fully
  • How could awareness of Scottish Child Payment be improved?
    • Among those on the eligible benefits? Among those like yourself working with eligible families.
  • Are there any changes that could be made that would help it meet the SG aims?

Summary and final thoughts

  • What would you like to see happen to the Scottish Child Payment in the future?
  • Do you have a final message for the Scottish Government in relation to the Scottish Child Payment?

Recruitment of people on SCP – asking for their assistance

  • Another part of this project is going to involve speaking to people on SCP about their experiences of the payment. We are looking for some help from organisations who work with people on SCP who might be able to put us in touch with people who may be interested.
  • As a thank you for spending time helping us with this, we are giving £75 in cash to organisations who help us with recruitment. Each person on Scottish Child Payment who gives up their time to speak to us will also get £30 themselves in recognition of them sharing their views and time.
  • Is this something you think you might be able to help us with?
  • We would provide information about the research you could share with people, and then either you could ask for their permission to pass on their details to us, or, if either of you were uncomfortable with that, you could give them our contact details so that they can contact us direct.
  • We would then have a brief initial conversation with them, to tell them more about the research and to check they're definitely eligible to take part, before arranging the interview for a time convenient to them.
  • We are trying to get a mix of people in terms of age, ethnicity, sexuality, circumstances (e.g. who they live with, whether they or someone they live with is disabled)
    • If looking for specific characteristics at this point, discuss this
  • Discuss how to take things forward – e.g. are they best contact or someone else? How many people do they think they might be able to identify?
  • Arrange to email them further info for gatekeepers and agree time to check back in with them about whether they've managed to find anyone.

Thank and close

If necessary, confirm arrangements for sharing notes.

Contact

Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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