The Scottish Government is becoming responsible for some of the benefits previously delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). As part of the work to prepare for this change, in the Summer 2017 the Scottish Government set up the Social Security Experience Panels.
The Experience Panels are made up of people who have experience of at least one of the benefits that are coming to Scotland. The Scottish Government works with panel members to inform key decisions in the design of social security in Scotland. This is the third annual report for the Experience Panels programme of research. It aims to feed back to panel members and others interested in the work about what has been achieved this year and what is planned for 2021.
2020 has been our third full year of running research with panel members. Research activities were briefly paused at the start of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to be sensitive to additional stress and complications panel members were (and continue to be) dealing with. On the advice of panel members, research activities were restarted in July, but without the ability to offer any face-to-face meetings. We have used surveys, and online and phone interviews to hear from panel members since then. This is to keep both participants and our staff safe. We would like to thank all panel members for their understanding and flexibility during this time.
This year, we have published a large number of reports. We have also undertaken increasingly detailed research with panel members. This is informing a wide range of decisions about how Social Security Scotland will work. Panel members are also helping to test and improve new systems and materials like application forms and benefit information. This helps to ensure the service is easy to use and accessible to all.
Finally, we have thought more about how the Experience Panels research links to doing research with Social Security Scotland 's own clients. We have also spent more time sharing our findings and approach with others in the Scottish Government and beyond.
This report will give more detail on all of these points.