As part of the programme of Experience Panels research, additional work is being undertaken with seldom heard groups who have distinct experiences and needs that may not be covered in the main Experience Panels.[1 2]This project is part of that work, and has a focus on ethnic minorities – who face particular barriers to accessing public services.
The purpose of this research was to explore a diverse range of views and experiences of accessing public support and the benefits system. It was also to ask participants about how Social Security Scotland could be designed to make sure it is accessible to ethnic minorities in Scotland.
It should be noted that much of the fieldwork for this research took place in a context where Social Security Scotland was yet to publicly open as an agency. As a result, the findings should be considered to outline a range of longstanding barriers faced by ethnic minority groups. The findings should not be considered to represent an evaluation of any specific benefit or service currently being delivered by Social Security Scotland or the UK Government.
More than 130 participants took part in 20 focus groups across 5 events in Scotland. Interpreters were provided where needed, and focus groups were conducted in English, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Nepalese, Cantonese, and Mandarin. The first phase of this work specifically targeted older people with English as a second language, a group facing particular barriers. This was widened to all ages and to include people with English as their first language for later events. Scottish Government researchers conducted these research sessions between March 2018 and September 2019.
This report details the findings and key themes that emerged from this work. It also outlines how the insights and suggestions in this research are being used to shape the service that Social Security Scotland offers to ethnic minorities.