More than 2,400 volunteers from across Scotland signed up to work with us as part of the Experience Panels.
Putting the user experience first and involving the people of Scotland in the design of processes and services are two of the key principles of social security in Scotland. The Experience Panels are one of the ways that we are putting those principles into practice.
Who can join the Experience Panels
The Experience Panels involve people with direct, personal experience of the benefits that are being devolved to the Scottish Government. This covers:
- most ill health and disability benefits:
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Carers Allowance
- benefits that are part of the Regulated Social Fund:
- Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments
People who are acting as a parent/guardian, appointee or power of attorney for someone with experience of any of the above benefits were also welcome to register to join the Panels.
What is involved in taking part
Experience Panels members have a choice of activities that they can take part in. Some are about the social security system in general and others are more specific to certain experiences (e.g. focusing on an individual benefit).
Taking part can include completing short surveys, or taking part in interviews and group discussions. Activities can be carried out face-to-face, on the phone and online. No matter where people live in Scotland, there are opportunities to take part.
We give plenty of notice about upcoming research, and what taking part involves. However, there is no obligation of any kind to get involved in any of the activities.
If you are participating in the Experience Panels it will not affect your benefits. Also, none of the information that you provide in any Experience Panels research will affect your benefits.
Any personal information such as your name, address and contact details, that you provide will be kept completely confidential according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). None of the information that you give us is shared with anyone outside of the Scottish Government.
Research reports are published as a part of this work, however, information will never be in a form that can reveal your identity.
You do not have to take part in everything. It is entirely up to you how much time you want to spend.
There are a range of activities and topics to suit different members. Some are about the social security system in general and others are more specific to certain experiences.
It is up to you to decide what to participate in. That means that you can choose not to take part in anything, but still remain a member of the Experience Panels.
Payment and expenses
This is a volunteer role, so you will not be paid to take part.
We cover reasonable expenses for panel members to support attendance at our face to face events. This includes travel costs, and where required childcare costs or costs of bringing a carer. Expenses are reimbursed after you take part.
We always provide refreshments at events, including lunch if the event happens right before or after lunchtime.
Extra support to get involved
We will make sure that you are comfortable taking part and we recognise that you might need some extra support to be involved. We want to make taking part as easy as possible for everyone involved.
How you participate will vary depending on the activity. Activities can be carried out face-to-face, on the phone, by post and online.
We use accessible venues across Scotland for face to face events, can provide a hearing loop, BSL translation, audio typists or language interpreters on request. We can provide refreshments according to any dietary requirements and adjust events for allergies. We welcome carers to attend alongside panel members.
Our surveys can be completed online, over the phone and on paper and are always written in simple language. Our online surveys use dyslexia friendly formatting and work well with screen readers. Our paper surveys are always in large font.
We always provide information in advance. If you are asked to meet to discuss something in person, we will cover your expenses and provide any other support that you require to participate.
Any personal information (like your name, address and contact details) that you give us is held according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This means that it is kept completely confidential and is not shared with anyone who does not need to see it as part of running the panels. It will also not be shared outside of the Scottish Government. We use your contact details for research purposes only. This means we will contact you only to invite you to take part or to tell you about what we have found. We will delete all personal data at the end of the Experience Panels project.
Research reports are published as a part of this work, however, information will never be in a form that can reveal your identity. A copy of the Data Protection Impact Assessment for this project is available for you to look at.
Leaving the Experience Panels
We want as many people to take part as possible. This will help us to make sure that the information that we get best represents the people using the social security system.
However, we understand that people may no longer want to take part for a variety of reasons. Participation is entirely voluntary and you can opt out at any time, without having to give any a reason.
Other ways to get involved
The panels have been set up to involve people with direct, lived experience of accessing the current benefit system, in designing the new social security system for Scotland. This is because people with recent experience are able to tell us what works well currently, and where there is room for improvement.
However, there are other ways to get involved and let us know what you think. For example, through public consultations. You can find out more about this on our website.
Involving those with professional experience of the current benefit system
Experience Panel membership is for people with direct personal experience only, as applicants, carers or appointees.
There is separate work underway to involve professionals and stakeholder organisations in the development of the new system. For example, through stakeholder reference groups and the Expert Advisory Group on Disability and Carers' Benefits.
There are other ways to get involved and let us know what you think. For example, through public consultations, which can be found at https://consult.gov.scot/.
We keep in touch with members of the Experience Panels, giving regular updates on how research is being used to make real changes to social security in Scotland. We send panel members all our reports when they are published, and also have a quarterly newsletter.
See a list of Experience Panel reports published to date.
We usually allow you to contact us by post, Freephone, Text, Textphone and have Phoneline translation for British Sign Language users. Sadly, these options are not available at the moment. This is because of the current situation with COVID-19. If you have any further questions, you can still contact us by:
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