Social Security Experience Panels: designing the benefits case transfer process

Panels' views expressed in interviews and a survey on benefits case transfer process from UK Government Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to Social Security Scotland.

This document is part of a collection

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. Over 2,400 people from across Scotland who have recent experience of at least one of the benefits being devolved to Scotland have registered as panel members.

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. The new agency is taking over a number of benefits from DWP and we have worked with Experience Panel members to understand what they think the process for transfering clients should be like and their expectations surrounding the transfer.

This report details the key themes which emerged from a survey and ten individual and group interviews which took place in February 2019. The research explored:

  • Views on how to notify clients of the case transfer process;
  • What information should be provided to clients before their transfer;
  • Who clients would want to talk to and where they would go for more information;
  • Priorities for who should transfer from DWP to Social Security Scotland first;
  • What information about clients and their benefits Social Security Scotland should take over as part of the transfer and;
  • What Social Security Scotland can do to make the transfer happen as smoothly as possible.

Participants were recruited from the Scottish Government Social Security Experience Panels. All Experience Panel members were invited to take part in the survey and individual and group interviews. The survey and interviews covered similar content, with the survey being used to understand general opinion and the interviews exploring particular topics in more depth.

This project formed part of a larger series of work which took place throughout February 2019 and covered various other topics.

Within this paper, 'participants' refers to those who took part in interviews and 'respondents' refer to those who completed the survey. Some Experience Panel members may have completed the survey and also taken part in an interview

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 are being 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. Percentages are given only to give a broad sense of the balance of opinion across respondents.


Ten individual and group interviews were held in locations across Scotland[1]. interviews varied in size, ranging from 1 to 5 panel members at each session.

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 559 people chose to complete the survey (a response rate of 22.7 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. Once linked to the demographic data, 69.2% of survey respondents were matched in this way.

Around 6 in 10 respondents for who we could link to demographic data identified as 'woman or girl' (61 per cent) with almost 4 in 10 respondents identifying as 'man or boy' (39 per cent).

Table 1: Gender of survey respondents (n=380)

Gender %
Woman or girl 61
Man or boy 39
Total 100

The majority of respondents were 45 or over (84 per cent). 16 per cent of respondents were under 45 with no respondents aged 80 or over.

Table 2: Age of survey respondents (n=387)

Age %
Under 25 1
25 – 44 15
45 – 59 54
60 – 79 30
80 or over 0
Total 100

Almost nine in ten survey respondents (88 per cent) considered themselves to have a disability or long term health condition.

Table 3: Disability status of survey respondents (n=387)[4]

Disability Status %
Disabled 88
Not Disabled 12
Total 100

Just less than half of respondents acted as a carer for a family member or friend (48 per cent).

Table 4: Caring status of survey respondents (n=363)

Carer Status %
Carer 48
Not a carer 51
Prefer not to say 1
Total 100

Over four fifths of respondents were from urban areas (84 per cent)[5].

Table 5: Location of survey respondents (n=354)

Location %
Urban 84
Rural 16
Total 100

Respondents took part from 31 of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland.

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 (74 per cent) and Disability Living Allowance (71 per cent). The least common benefits claimed were Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit (6 per cent) and Sure Start Maternity Grant (6 per cent).

Table 6: Respondents benefit experience [6](n=135)

Benefit %
Personal Independence Payment 74
Disability Living Allowance 71
Winter Fuel Payment Carer's Allowance 41
Cold Weather Payment 36
Winter Fuel Payment 35
Discretionary Housing Payment 23
Scottish Welfare Fund 18
Attendance Allowance 18
Universal Credit 17
Severe Disablement Allowance 17
Funeral Expenses 8
Sure Start Maternity Grant 6
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'[7].



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