Social Security Experience Panels: agency recruitment

This report considers views on recruitment processes, perceptions of the Civil Service and how recruitment can be made more accessible.

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 creation of the new agency, we have worked with Experience Panel members to understand their expectations around both agency recruitment processes and what staff should be like.

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

  • Panel member's experiences looking for work, and barriers experienced in recruitment processes;
  • Awareness of past Social Security Scotland recruitment drives;
  • How the agency's recruitment process can be made more accessible; and
  • Perceptions of working for the Civil Service, and how this could impact on decisions to apply for a role with the agency.

Participants were recruited from the Scottish Government Experience Panels. All Experience Panel members were invited to take part in the survey and focus groups. The survey covered Experience Panel members experiences of looking for work and their awareness of previous agency recruitment drives. The focus groups covered Experience Panel members' experiences of looking for work, and their views on how to create an accessible recruitment process.

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 respondents only, and are not indicative of the wider Scottish population. The number of responses for the survey was relatively 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 respondents.

Focus Groups

15 focus groups were held in locations across Scotland[1]. Flipcharts and post-it notes were used to facilitate discussion and capture the views of all participants. As part of the focus groups, participants were shown a sample job advert and asked to comment on each section.

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 168 people chose to complete the survey (a response rate of 6.84 per cent).

This information 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 participants of this survey as part of the longitudinal data set for this project.

Four in ten survey respondents identified as 'man or boy' (40 per cent) and six in ten as 'woman or girl' (60 per cent).

Table 1: Gender of survey respondents (n=134)

Gender %
Man or boy 40
Woman or girl 60
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 aged 80 and over.

Table 2: Age of survey respondents (n=135)

Age %
Under 25 0
25 – 44 13
45 – 59 48
60 – 79 39
80 or over 0
Total 100

Almost nine in ten survey respondents (86 per cent) considered themselves to have a disability or long term health condition.

Table 3: Disability status of survey respondents (n=135)

Disability Status %
Disabled 86
Not Disabled 14
Total 100

Over two thirds of survey respondents (67 per cent) had a physical disability. A large number of participants also reported having chronic pain (61 per cent) or another type of long term health condition (66 per cent). Around one in ten respondents had a severe hearing impairment (12 per cent) and/or a severe visual impairment (10 per cent).

Table 4: Disability types of survey respondents (n=133-135)[4]

Disability Type %
Has a physical disability 67
Has chronic pain 61
Has a mental health condition 29
Has a severe hearing impairment 12
Has a severe visual impairment 10
Has a learning disability 8
Has another kind of disability or long term health condition 66

Just over two in five survey respondents was a carer for a friend or family member (43 per cent).

Table 5: Caring status of survey respondents (n=129)

Carer Status %
Carer 43
Not a carer 57
Total 100

Survey respondents most commonly cared for an adult friend or relative (32 per cent) and over a fifth was a carer due to old age (23 per cent).

Table 6: Who do survey respondents care for (n=135)[5]

Person who they care for %
Cares for an adult 32
Cares for a child 12
Carer due to old age 23

Survey respondents took part from twenty-eight of the thirty-two local authorities, with the majority living in an urban area (67 per cent).[6]

Table 7: Location of survey respondents (n=135)

Location %
Urban 67
Rural 19
Prefer not to say 15
Total 101

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 (65 per cent) and Disability Living Allowance (63 per cent). The least common benefits claimed were Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit (6 per cent) and Sure Start Maternity Grant (8 per cent).

Table 8: Respondents benefit experience [7](n=135)

Benefit %
Personal Independence Payment 65
Disability Living Allowance 63
Winter Fuel Payment 36
Carer's Allowance 33
Cold Weather Payment 31
Discretionary Housing Payment 24
Universal Credit 23
Attendance Allowance 22
Scottish Welfare Fund 18
Severe Disablement Allowance 16
Funeral Expenses 8
Sure Start Maternity Grant 8
Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit 6

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

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