Social Security client and experience panels research: effects of the coronavirus pandemic on communication preferences – visual summary

A summary of findings from a research project with client and experience panel members about communication preferences.

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This is a summary of a research project which took place from January to April 2021. It looked at the effect of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on how people want to communicate with Social Security Scotland. The research was with Experience and Client Panel members.

Experience Panels

The Experience Panels were established in 2017 to help design a social security system that works for the people of Scotland. Members have experience of at least one of the benefits delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that has or will come to Scotland.

Client Panels

The Client Panels started in 2020. They are made up of Social Security Scotland clients from across Scotland. Client Panel members share their experiences and opinions on how Social Security Scotland works.

The COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected how we live our lives. For this research, we asked participants about their communication before, during and after the pandemic.

For the purposes of the research, ‘during the pandemic’ was the period starting from 1 March 2020.

Participants were also asked to think about making contact with Social Security Scotland once the pandemic was no longer a serious risk to public health. Each participant could think for themselves when this might be. This included what restrictions on everyday life, if any, might exist.

About the research

The research took place in JAN - APR 2021

41 Interviews

484 Survey responses

The research explored views on:

  • Contact with Social Security Scotland since March 2020.
  • How the pandemic may have affected how people like to communicate.
  • Views on talking to Social Security Scotland via video call.
  • Views on meeting Social Security Scotland in person.

About the survey participants

The participants identified as:

  • 420 Experience Panels members took part.
  • 64 Client Panels members took part.
  • 66% Women
  • 32% Men
  • 82% Most lived in an urban location.
  • 18% Around a fifth lived in a rural location.
  • 53% Over half said they were carers.
  • 78% Most had a disability or long-term health condition.
  • 3% were from an ethnic minority.

About the interview participants

At the end of the survey, respondents were asked if they would be interested in taking part in a follow-up interview.

41 interviews carried out

The participants identified as:

  • 25 Client Panels members
  • 16 Experience Panels members
  • 56% Women
  • 37% Men
  • 78% Most lived in an urban location.
  • 22% A fifth lived in a rural location.
  • 37% Around a third said they were carers.
  • 44% Just less than half had a disability or long-term health condition.
  • 5% were from an ethnic minority.



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