Experience panels: annual report 2018

This report summarises experience panels research work done in 2018 and looks forward to 2019.

This document is part of a collection

2018: The Research

We have now conducted a large number of research projects with panel members. Our work has covered both the design of individual benefits, and topics related to how Social Security Scotland will work more generally. Findings are fed in to decision making, shaping decisions as they are made.

We report on our findings through full research reports and shorter, visual summaries which are designed to be as accessible as possible. These are sent to panel members as soon as they are published so they can see what they have said and how we have used the findings.

In 2018 we have published 22 reports and visual summaries, including on:

  • About Your Benefits and You qualitative findings
  • Personal Independence Payment Discovery
  • Best Start Grant
  • Designing the Social Security Charter
  • Who is in the panels and their experiences so far
  • Agency Opening Hours
  • Young Carers Grant
  • Automatic Entitlement & Award Duration
  • Branding and Wording
  • Universal Credit Scottish Choices
  • Website Use
  • Complaints, Re-determinations and Appeals

All reports can be found on our website at

While the topics listed above cover a range of different aspects of how social security will be delivered in Scotland, there are some themes that we see coming up across our work with panel members.

Simple, Clear and Timely Processes

This theme was clear in 'About You' but has been echoed across our work with panel members. Panel members called for clear, straightforward information about benefits. And they asked for application forms that are as short as possible, which use plain English to ask clear questions.

"I was quite overwhelmed with the number of questions they were asking and how the questions were worded."
Panel member,
Personal Independence Payment Discovery report

Flexible Approaches

Another key theme throughout individual projects is the importance of flexibility to meet the different needs of people interacting with Social Security Scotland. For example, having a choice between a paper form, an online form or applying in person at an office allows people to choose a way to apply that suits them best.

"I think every way of communication should be available to meet the demands of the client base."
Panel member,
Agency Opening Hours report

Friendly, Helpful and Knowledgeable Staff

The importance of staff behaviour is also something we often hear from panel members. Part of this is about staff treating people as individuals, understanding the issues people face, and being polite and respectful when talking to people. Also important is staff having relevant knowledge about clients, about the social security system, and the wider support available, and using that knowledge to help people however they can.

"The assessor who came to assess my son for his PIP understood his condition and helped him through the assessment by her attitude - she stood out amongst everyone else I have had to deal with."
Panel member,
About Your Benefits and You qualitative report

Accessible and Inclusive

The importance of accessibility and inclusivity shines through both in our research with panel members and in our experience of working with panel members over the year.

This is important both in a practical sense, in that panel members ask and expect accessibility to disabled people as well as to those who speak other languages. For example, the need to use physically accessible buildings. But it is also important in terms of being inclusive in a broader sense. We saw this in the branding work where there was an expectation that photos used by Social Security Scotland would show the diversity of the Scottish population and of social security clients in particular.

"The accessibility of the panels is very good, provision of information is good and it is easy to contact people if help is needed."
Panel member
'Who is in the panels' report


Email: Carole Edwards

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