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Social Security Experience Panels - panel members: full report - 2020 update

This report provides demographic information about the Social Security Experience Panels. It also summarises feedback from panel members about their experiences of being a member of the panels and how this could be improved.

This document is part of a collection


Summary

New panel members

Between July 2019 and March 2020, the Experience Panels team completed a campaign to recruit new panel members. This was done to top-up the overall panel membership which had fallen, as well as to recruit panel members from groups which were unrepresented in the existing membership. 572 new panel members with experience of the benefits system joined the Experience Panels. Of those new panel members, up to 322 then provided detailed demographic information through either the ‘About You 2020’ survey or the ‘About You YCPsurvey.

Of those new panel members:

  • 73 per cent of respondents identified as “woman/girl”, and 25 per cent identified as “man/boy.”
  • 3 per cent of respondents said that they were aged between 16 and 24. 27 per cent said were aged between 25 and 44. 46 per cent said they were aged between 45 and 59, and 24 per cent said they were aged over 60.
  • 97 per cent of respondents describe their ethnic group as “white,” and 3 per cent said they were part of a non-white minority ethnic group.
  • 54 per cent of respondents said that they had no religion. 15 per cent said that they were Church of Scotland, and 13 per cent said they were Roman Catholic. A number of other religions were represented among respondents, ranging from 1 to 3 per cent of respondents.
  • 85 per cent of respondents identified as heterosexual or straight. 9 per cent identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual and 2 per cent identified in another way. Less than 10 respondents identified as transgender.
  • 79 per cent of respondents said that they had at least one disability or long-term health condition.
  • 61 per cent of respondents said that they look after or give regular support to someone who has either a long term physical condition, mental ill-health, disability, or problems relating to old age.
  • 72 per cent of respondents said that they had experience of Personal Independence Payments (PIP). 33 per cent said that they had experience of Carer’s Allowance, and 8 per cent had experience of Best Start Grant.

551 new panel members completed the ‘Experience Panels Registration Form’ and provided their postcode. In these responses:

  • Postcodes in all 32 local authority areas in Scotland were provided. These included 11 per cent of respondents who live in City of Edinburgh, 9 per cent who live in Glasgow City, and 8 per cent who live in Fife.
  • 70 per cent live in either ‘Large Urban Areas’ or ‘Other Urban Areas.’ 20 per live in either ‘Accessible Rural Areas’ or in ‘Remote Rural Areas.’[3]

All panel members

We combined the available responses from all of the ‘About You’ surveys that have been asked between 2017 and 2020.[4] The information available for the entire Experience Panel membership is as follows:

  • 65 per cent of respondents identify as “female” or as a “woman or girl,” and 33 per cent as “male” or as a “man/boy”.
  • 1 per cent of respondents said that they were aged between 16 and 24. 23 per cent said were aged between 25 and 44. 47 per cent said they were aged between 45 and 59, and 27 per cent said they were aged over 60.
  • 97 per cent of respondents describe their ethnic group as “white,” and 2 per cent said they were part of a minority ethnic group.
  • 52 per cent of respondents said that they had no religion. 15 per cent said that they were Church of Scotland, and 12 per cent said they were Roman Catholic. A number of other religions were represented among respondents, ranging from 1 to 3 per cent of respondents.
  • 85 per cent of respondents identified as heterosexual or straight. 9 per cent identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual and 2 per cent identified in another way. 1 per cent of respondents identified as transgender.
  • 82 per cent of respondents said that they had at least one disability or long-term health conditions.
  • 52 per cent of respondents said that they look after or give regular support to someone who has either a long term physical condition, mental ill-health, disability, or problems relating to old age.
  • 61 per cent of respondents said that they had experience of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). 70 per cent said they had experience of Personal Independence Payments (PIP). 37 per cent said that they had experience of Carer’s Allowance.

2,193 panel members completed the ‘Experience Panels Registration Form’ and provided their postcode. In these responses:

  • Postcodes in all 32 local authority areas in Scotland were provided. These included 13 per cent of respondents who live in Glasgow City, 12 per cent who live in City of Edinburgh, and 7 per cent who live in Fife.
  • 72 per cent live in either ‘Large Urban Areas’ or ‘Other Urban Areas.’ 16 per cent live in either ‘Accessible Rural Areas’ or in ‘Remote Rural Areas.’

Feedback – what has worked well?

There were a range of thoughts from respondents about what had worked well when they had taken part in the Experience Panels. The most common view from respondents was that they valued that their voice was being listened to and was being used to shape decisions.

Others described the positive impact of meeting other panel members who had similar experiences during Panel events. These respondents felt that meeting other people gave them a chance to listen, learn, and sometimes be challenged.

Many also commented on the variety of research opportunities that were available. There was positive feedback for quick surveys – particularly online surveys.

A number of respondents also felt that communication between panel members and the Experience Panels team had worked well. This included the clear language used as well as the frequency of contact with panel members. Many were also positive about the way that they had been treated by the Experience Panels staff at research events.

Feedback – what could be improved?

A number of respondents had thoughts on how events could be improved. Some described different reasons why they had been unable to attend events. These included being unable to travel long distances to events due to limited travel options, caring and childcare responsibilities, work commitments, or a health condition. Several respondents suggested streaming Experience Panels events via video-link, so that those who couldn’t attend physically, could still tune in and take part.

There were also comments about how to improve the specific research approaches of Experience Panels. A couple of respondents described small changes to the format of surveys. Several respondents also had thoughts on how focus group formats could be improved. These included keeping the groups small and working to ensure that all voices in a focus group were heard equally. Several respondents asked if panel members could be given more time to prepare for focus groups.

Other respondents expressed concern about being over-consulted on very small decisions. Several said they would like it if the Experience Panels team told them about wider job opportunities in Social Security Scotland.

Contact

Email: socialsecurityexperience@gov.scot

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