Social Security Experience Panels: meeting people's needs - report

Report on findings from research with Social Security Experience Panels members on how Social Security Scotland can support clients’ accessibility, disability and other needs.

Background and research methods 

In this research project, Experience Panel members were invited to take part in a survey and focus group discussions to explore:

  • What information relating to disability and accessibility needs Social Secuirty Scotland should know about.
  • When and how members would want to tell Social Security Scotland about these needs.
  • How Social Security Scotland should record these needs on an internal system. 
  • What circumstances may give rise to other needs such as bereavment or addiction and how Social Security Scotland should record information about these needs. 
  • Ways Social Security Scotland can support the disability, accessibility, and other needs of clients. 

Panel members were reassured that this research was to explore how Social Security Scotland could gather and record information to meet client needs and not as a way to collect additional information relating to a claim or application. 

Respondents were recruited from the Scottish Government Experience Panels.  All Experience Panel members were invited to take part in the survey.  The panels are made up of volunteers from the Scottish population who have relevant experience of the benefits which will be delivered by Social Security Scotland.  The results of this work should be regarded as being reflective of the experience and views of the research participants only, and are not indicative of the views of a wider Scottish population.  Percentages are given only to show a broad sense of the balance of opinion across participants.  Comments or quotations from survey or focus group participants are shown in shaded boxes as illustrative examples only.   

Focus groups

During February 2020, nine focus groups were held in seven locations across Scotland.[1]  Focus groups were facilitated by Scottish Government social researchers.  To ensure the anonymity of participants was preserved, focus groups were not audio or video recorded.  The content of focus groups was detailed by notetakers in attendance.

Survey method 

Participation in Experience Panels research is optional, and 234 people chose to complete the survey.  This represents approximately 10 per cent of Experience Panel members.

Where possible, information from the survey was matched to information from the 'About Your Benefits and You' and 'Social Security Experience Panels: Who is in the panels and their experiences so far' surveys.[2]  The demographic data collected in these surveys was linked to the information supplied previously by participants.  Linking was not possible where there was missing or unclear information.

The following demographic information is given to give context to the findings from the survey.  More detailed demographic information about survey respondents can be found at Annex A.

Two thirds of survey respondents (66 per cent) who we have demographic information for identified as either 'female' or 'woman or girl'.  One third (32 per cent) identified as either 'male' or 'man or boy'.  Almost half of respondents (48 per cent) were aged 45 to 59.

Most respondents (85 per cent) had a disability or long term health condition.  Less than half of respondents (42 per cent) said they were a carer.  Almost two thirds of survey respondents (65 per cent) who took part had experience of Personal Independence Payment.  Over half  (57 per cent) had experience of Disability Living Allowance.

Survey respondents took part from 29 of 32 local authority areas in Scotland. The majority lived in an urban area (78 per cent).



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