1.1 The Scottish Government commissioned Ipsos MORI to carry out a survey among customers of its Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID) and RPID's partner organisations: Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
1.2 The aim of this research was to conduct an independent customer survey to assess customer satisfaction of the RPID customer interface. This will provide the Division with information to help shape the Futures Programme and set a baseline to measure future customer satisfaction against.
1.3 The Futures Programme is part of wider public service reforms and fits with the Scottish Government's drive for more digital public services, which means RPID must look into ways to encourage more customers to use the Rural Payments Online (RPO) system for applications and to submit information.
1.4 The survey measured: satisfaction with RPID and its partners, and with various aspects of the service provided; areas where customers feel RPID can improve its service delivery; the ways in which customers interact with RPID and the ways in which they would prefer to have contact in the future; barriers to using online services and possible ways RPID can encourage people to take up such services; the usefulness of potential new online services and features; and aspects of customers' online behaviour.
1.5 Interviews were conducted with business customers of RPID or its partners (FCS or SHN) sampled from the Scottish Government's customer and agent databases. The businesses were grouped into four categories: crofts (taken as properties with an area under ten hectares); farms (properties with an area of ten hectares or more); agents; and 'other' rural businesses (comprised of forestry, horticultural or environmental businesses, estates and community groups).
1.6 Fieldwork took place between 23 July and 13 August 2013. A total of 1,024 interviews were completed across two modes: telephone interviews were conducted with 502 respondents, with a further 522 surveys completed by respondents online. The telephone sample was drawn at random from the RPID customer database, and quotas were set in order to reflect the composition of the database and the desire to be able to analyse smaller groups of customers.
1.7 The online strand of the research was conducted as an experiment to determine whether it would be feasible to conduct such research online in future waves. Once the telephone sample had been drawn, all remaining RPID customers with a valid email address (3,714 in total) were sent a unique link to the online survey. Those who had not completed the survey were sent a reminder email one week before the end of the fieldwork period. A total of 520 online surveys were completed, giving a response rate of 14%.
1.8 The profile of responses to the online strand of the survey was found to be very similar to that of the telephone survey. Given that this is the case, the online experiment can be considered to have been successful, and because of this it was possible to combine the results of the two surveys.
1.9The combined data from both strands of fieldwork were weighted to reflect the composition of the RPID customer database. The survey findings represent the views of a sample of customers, and not the entire population, so they are subject to sampling tolerances, meaning that not all differences will be statistically significant. Throughout the report, differences between sub-groups are commented upon only where these are statistically significant, i.e. where we can be 95% certain that they have not occurred by chance.
1.10 Where percentages do not sum to 100%, this may be due to computer rounding, the exclusion of 'don't know' categories or multiple answers. Throughout the report, an asterisk (*) denotes any value of less than half a per cent and a dash (-) denotes zero. For questions where the number of respondents is less than 30, the number of times a response has been selected (N) rather than the percentage is given.
1.11 The geographic spread of respondents is shown in table 1.1 below. Data shown are the unweighted and weighted number of respondents in each region, as well as the overall percentage of respondents in each region, and across both modes of the survey.
|Argyll & Western Isles||Central||Grampian||Highland||Northern & Northern Isles||South Eastern||South Western||Southern|
1.12 Sixty-four per cent of respondents were farmers, 18% were crofters, 7% were agents, 5% were estates, 2% forestry or horticultural businesses and 1% were environmental groups. Five per cent did not fall into any one of these categories.
1.13 A quarter of the farms, crofts or forestry/horticultural businesses mainly produced sheep or mixed produce, with one in five producing beef. One in ten produced cereals, with 5% producing general cropping and 3% producing dairy.
1.14 Two-thirds of respondents were in the 41-64 age group, with a quarter aged over 65 and 10% up to the age of 40. Three quarters of respondents were male, one quarter female.
1.15 Just over half said that they had received information on rural grants and support services in the last twelve months from any source, while 44% had not done so.
1.16 Ninety-five per cent of respondents had submitted a Single Application Form (SAF) in the last 12 months. Of those who had submitted a SAF, 85% had applied to the Single Farm Payment Scheme (SFPS), 59% to the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS), 52% to Land Managers Options (LMO), and 20% to Rural Development Contracts - Rural Priorities (RDC-RP). Just under three in five respondents said that they had submitted their SAF online, with two in five making a paper submission.
1.17 Online respondents were more likely than telephone respondents to have applied to LMO (56% compared with 48%) or RDC-RP (24% versus 16%) in the last twelve months. Not surprisingly, online respondents were more likely than telephone respondents and overall, to have made an online SAF submission (72% compared with 44%, 58% overall); while telephone respondents were more likely than online respondents and overall to have made a paper submission (54% compared with 28% and 41% respectively).
1.18 Thirty-seven per cent of respondents said that they had made an application to rural schemes not covered by SAF; 62% said that they had not done so. Similar proportions of telephone and online respondents reported having made a non-SAF application in the last 12 month (35% and 39% respectively).
1.19 Four-fifths of respondents said that they use the internet for both work and personal use, with 6% saying that they do so for personal use only and 3% saying that they only use the internet for work. A fifth of telephone respondents said that they never use the internet.
Email: Angela Morgan
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