Scottish Welfare Fund review: final report

A comprehensive review of the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Annex E – Topic guide for external local stakeholders

Introduction (3 mins)

  • Introduce self and Ipsos
  • Check in with how they are. Is now still an OK time to speak to us?
  • Introduce the research: The Scottish Government has commissioned Ipsos MORI to undertake research to review the operation and effectiveness of the SWF, as part of its commitment to reviewing the Fund this parliamentary term.
  • The review will use multiple methods to explore the operation of the Fund, including:
    • Analysis of monitoring data, returned by LAs to the SG
    • Analysis of existing literature and evidence
    • Interviews with senior staff within each local authority, who have been helping us compile a more detailed picture of how the Fund operates across Scotland.
    • Interviews with applicants
    • And interviews with professionals involved in processing applications or supporting applicants in a number of case study local authorities
  • Latter part is where they come in. Their area has been selected as a case study, and their name has been passed to us as someone who works with people who may apply to the Fund.
  • Discuss anonymity and confidentiality.
    • Case study areas will be identified by letter only in the report
    • We are not sharing the identity of case study areas with the Scottish Government, and will not share your interview with anyone else in your local authority
    • If we use quotes in the report, they will be anonymous
    • Hope they will feel able be open in your answers, as the learning from this will hopefully help inform improvements across Scotland.
    • However, we are aware that offering concrete guarantees of confidentiality can be difficult with professional interviewees who may be one of a small number of people in relevant roles. Given this, if you feel that anything you say is potentially identifiable, and you would rather it wasn't quoted or referred to directly, then just let me know. I'll check back with you about this at the end.
  • 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.
  • Interview will probably last around 45 minutes.
  • Request permission to record – this in case my notes are unclear and I need to go back and check anything. The recording will not be shared with anyone outside the research team and will be securely deleted after the research is complete.
  • Any questions before we start?
  • At start of recording – I just need to confirm for the record that you are giving verbal consent that you are happy to take part in this interview, and happy for the interview to be recorded for Ipsos to listen back to.

About the participant and their role (5 mins)

To start off with, tell me a bit about your organisation and your role

  • How long have you been in post?
  • How do you / your organisation typically come into contact with people who may be applying to the SWF?
  • What role do you / your organisation play in relation to people applying to the Fund?
    • Probe – can you talk me through the support you provide people, before, during and after an application to the Fund?
    • Probe re. Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants (NB if involved with both, remember to probe as appropriate on both in rest of interview)
  • What, if any, contact do you have with the Local Authority SWF team outwith individual applications?

Perceptions of the operation of the SWF locally (15 mins)


  • How accessible do you think the Fund is to people in your area / the people you work with?
    • Are those who might need it generally aware of it? How do they become aware of it?
    • How effectively do you think it is promoted? Why? What might improve promotion / awareness?
  • How easy or difficult do you think it is to apply? What, if anything, would make it easier?

Decision-making process

  • In general, are decisions being made in a timely manner for applicants?
    • If no – why not? What do you think the issues are?
    • What impact does this have for the applicants they work with?
  • How clearly are decisions communicated to applicants?
    • If unclear – how could this be improved?
  • In general, how consistent do you feel decision-making is in your area? Why?
    • Probe on CGs and CCGs separately
    • Probe on specific issues, if feel it's inconsistent
      • Do they think the issue with the statutory guidance, or the way it is applied?
      • How could this be improved?

Review process

  • Are applicants made aware of their rights to request a review of the decision on their application?
  • How well does the system for reviewing SWF decisions work, in your view?
    • Probe separately around 1st tier (LA) and 2nd tier (SPSO) review

Impacts / follow-up after decisions

  • What happens after an applicant gets their decision?
    • How much do you find out about impact of successful awards?
      • Probe separately for CGs and CCGs
      • What (if any) follow-up information do you get on the impact?
    • What about the impact for those who do not get awards?
      • What, if any, alternative support are they able to access?
  • To what extent are you aware of people making repeat applications for CGs?
    • What do you think the reasons are for this?
    • What, if anything, might help people avoid needing to make repeat applications to the Fund? Probe – changes to the Fund vs. external factors.

Local need and demand (10 mins)

  • Do you come across many people that apply, or want to apply, for the Fund but are not eligible?
    • If yes – what types of people?
    • Why are they applying? Reasons + whether CG or CCG
  • Are there people experiencing pressing need, but who aren't eligible under current guidance?
    • Who? What alternative help is available to those groups?
  • Are there people who are eligible and in need, but who don't generally apply to the SWF?
    • Why not? What could be done to encourage them to consider applying?
  • How has demand for the Fund changed since you started working in this area? Why? What are the main factors impacting demand?
    • Probe separately re. Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants
    • Probe re. perceived impacts of Covid-19 on demand – and whether short-term or appear to be continuing longer-term

Challenges and improvements (10 mins)

  • How has your involvement with supporting applicants to SWF changed over time? Why?
    • Probe around impact of Covid-19 – and whether temporary or longer-term
    • What do you think about the level of support your organisation provides applicants?
      • Is your organisation best placed to do this?
      • Are you able to provide the level of support you would like? If not, what are the barriers?
  • How do you think the Fund could be improved, to better help those who need the types of support it provides?
  • If not raised, probe around:
    • Eligibility criteria / rules?
    • Changes to how it is delivered – local delivery vs. centralised national system?
    • Raising awareness of the Fund?
    • Making the application process easier / better?
    • Changes to how decisions are communicated?
    • Changes to the Review process?
    • Changes to the guidance?
    • Changes to funding for grants?
    • Changes to staffing levels for processing applications?
    • Anything else?

Thank you and ending interview (2 mins)

  • Is there anything else you would like to raise about the things we've discussed today?
  • Do you have any questions about the research?
  • Are you happy to be quoted anonymously in any reports?



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