Publication - Research and analysis

Social Security Experience Panels: agency buildings

Published: 24 Apr 2019
Social Security Directorate

This report details the key themes from research into social security client expectations on agency buildings, facilities and privacy.

29 page PDF

399.3 kB

29 page PDF

399.3 kB

Social Security Experience Panels: agency buildings
Background and research methods

29 page PDF

399.3 kB

Background and research methods

The Scottish Government is becoming responsible for some of the benefits previously delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions. As part of the work to prepare for this change, the Scottish Government set up the Social Security Experience Panels. The Experience Panels are made up of over 2,400 people from across Scotland who have recent experience of at least one of the benefits being devolved to Scotland.

The Scottish Government is working with Experience Panel members to design a new social security system that works for the people of Scotland, based on the principles of dignity, fairness and respect.

To deliver the benefits devolved to Scotland, the Scottish Government have established Social Security Scotland ('the agency') who will be responsible for administering Scotland's new social security system. As part of the development of the new agency, we have worked with Experience Panel members to understand what they expect from agency buildings and their views on co-location and privacy.

This report details the findings and themes which emerged from a survey and nine focus groups which took place in July and August 2018. The research considered:

  • Why participants would visit an agency building;
  • What facilities participants would want when visiting agency buildings;
  • Participants' views on co-locating with other organisations; and
  • Participant's views on privacy, including what a 'private space' looked like.

Participants were recruited from the Scottish Government Experience Panels (2,456 people). All Experience Panel members were invited to take part in the survey and focus groups.

The Social Security Experience Panels are a longitudinal research project. The panels are made up of volunteers from the Scottish population who have experience of at least one of the benefits that will be devolved to Scotland. The results of this work should be regarded as being reflective of the experience and views of the participants only, and are not indicative of the wider Scottish population. The number of responses for the survey was small and this should be kept in mind when considering the results. Percentages are given only to give a broad sense of the balance of opinion across participants.

Focus Groups

9 focus groups were held in locations across Scotland[1]. Focus groups were faciliated by Scottish Government social researchers. To ensure the anonymity of participants was preserved, focus groups were not audio or video recorded. The content of focus groups was detailed by notetakers in attendance.

Survey Method

All 2,456 Experience Panel members were invited to take part in the survey. Participation in Experience Panels research is optional, and in this case 184 people chose to complete the survey (a response rate of 7.49 per cent). It should be noted that given the title of the survey 'Help us communicate with you face-to-face', it is likely that Panel members who chose to respond had a greater interest in face to face communication, including visiting buildings, than that of the typical Experience Panel member. Similiarly, Experience Panel members who are not interested in face to face contact with the agency, or do not feel it is likely they will ever need face to face contact, may have been less inclined to respond.

Information from the survey was added to information from the 'About Your Benefits and You'[2] and 'Social Security Experience Panels: Who is in the panels and their experiences so far'[3] surveys. The demographic data collected in these surveys was linked to the information supplied by respondents of this survey as part of the longitudinal data set for the wider Experience Panels project.

Almost four in ten survey respondents identified as 'man or boy' (37 per cent) and just over six in ten (63 per cent) as 'woman or girl'.

Table 1: Gender of survey respondents (n=142)

Gender %
Man or boy 37
Woman or girl 63
Total 100

Almost nine in ten survey respondents were aged 45 or over (87 per cent) with just over one in ten aged between 25 and 44 (13 per cent). No survey respondents were under the age of 25 or over the age of 79.

Table 2: Age of survey respondents (n=144)

Age %
Under 25 0
25 – 44 13
45 – 59 49
60 – 79 38
80 or over 0
Total 100

Almost seven in ten survey respondents (68 per cent) had a physical disability. A large number of respondents also reported having chronic pain (66 per cent) or another type of long term health condition (68 per cent).

Over one in ten respondents had a severe hearing impairment (15 per cent), and less than one in twenty respondents had a severe visual impairment (3 per cent).

Table 3: Disability types of survey respondents (n=140-145)[4]

Disability Type %
Has a physical disability 68
Has chronic pain 66
Has a mental health condition 32
Has a severe hearing impairment 15
Has a severe visual impairment 3
Has a learning disability 11
Has another kind of disability or long term health condition 68

Just under four in ten respondents were carers of some sort (39 per cent). Respondents most commonly cared for an adult friend or relative (30 per cent) and around a fifth were a carer due to old age (20 per cent).

Table 4: Who do survey respondents care for (n=145)[5]

Person who they care for %
Cares for an adult 30
Cares for a child 10
Carer due to old age 20

Survey respondents took part from thirty of the thirty-two local authorities, with the majority living in an urban area (64 per cent).[6]

Table 5: Location of survey respondents (n=144)

Location %
Urban 64
Rural 23
Prefer not to say 13
Total 100

Survey respondents who took part had experience of claiming a wide range of benefits. The most common benefits claimed by survey respondents were Personal Independence Payment (68 per cent) and Disability Living Allowance (66 per cent). The least common benefits claimed were Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit (0 per cent) and Funeral Expenses (6 per cent).

Table 6: Respondents benefit experience [7](n=132)

Benefit %
Personal Independence Payment 68
Disability Living Allowance 66
Winter Fuel Payment 32
Carer's Allowance 33
Cold Weather Payment 32
Discretionary Housing Payment 21
Universal Credit 20
Attendance Allowance 20
Scottish Welfare Fund 18
Severe Disablement Allowance 17
Funeral Expenses 6
Sure Start Maternity Grant 7
Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit 0

More detailed demographic information on the Experience Panels as a whole can be found in 'Social Security Experience Panels: Who is in the panels and their experiences so far'[8].


Email: James.Miller@gov.Scot