Social security experience panels - About Your Benefits and You: qualitative research findings

Analysis of focus group responses within ‘About Your Benefits and You’, the first piece of research carried out with the Social Security Experience Panel.

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The Scottish Government will soon become responsible for some of the benefits currently paid out by the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP). As part of work to prepare for this change, the Scottish Government has set up the Social Security Experience Panels with people who have recent experience of benefits currently delivered by DWP, to help design a new social security system with the people of Scotland. The Panels will run for 4 years and are currently made up of more than 2,400 people with recent experience across the benefits which will be devolved to Scotland.

This report presents an analysis of the focus group and written responses within ‘About Your Benefits and You’ which was the first piece of research carried out Experience Panels members.

About Your Benefits and You Research

The About Your Benefits and You research aimed to:

  • find out basic demographic information about the Panels
  • capture respondents’ experiences of the current social security system, including what works well and what could be improved
  • ask panel members their priorities for what the Scottish Government should improve in the development and delivery of the new system

1,144 panel members responded to the survey, which closed on 1 September 2017, and 274 panel members attended 35 focus groups held across Scotland. This report provides an analysis of how respondents described their experience of the exisiting system in the focus groups and written comments in the survey, and their priorities for improvement in the new system.

Respondents tended to speak generally about their experience of the system as a whole in the survey and in focus groups. When information relates to specific benefits this is made clear in the report. Where individual benefits referenced are not being devolved to the Scottish Government, this is noted in a footnote for clarity. These findings will be used to develop a work plan with the Experience Panels, based on the priorities that they have identified. A full overview of questions is available at Annex A.

A previous, quantitative report published in November 2017 looked at the tick-box survey data, including respondent demographics, how respondents rated their experience overall, and their priorities for improvement in the new social security system.


The Social Security Experience Panels were established to ensure that the design for new social security system in Scotland is shaped by the experiences, needs and priorities of those who will use it. Over the course of the development and introduction of the new system, panel members will participate in research and service design activities to help Scottish Government develop a system that works and that can be continually improved.

The Panels are made up of more than 2,400 people in Scotland with direct, personal experience of the current social security system. This includes individuals who have claimed themselves, as well those who have supported others.

Over the summer of 2017, panel members were invited to participate in the ‘About Your Benefits and You’ research.

Report Structure

This report is split into three main chapters:


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