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.


Between 2017 and 2020, the Experience Panels team has invited panel members to participate in surveys to help us understand more about who is in the Panels. Firstly, a panel member provides some initial information on their ‘Registration Form.’ We then invite registered panel members to tell us a bit more about themselves through an ‘About You’ survey.

Our ‘About You’ surveys collect demographic data of panel members who choose to respond. Respondents provide information such as age, gender, ethnicity, religion and belief, sexual orientation and gender identity. ‘About You’ surveys also ask panel members about their benefits experience, caring responsibilities, along with any diasbilities and long-term health conditions they wish to disclose. Some surveys have also asked questions to allow panel members to provide feedback, and help us ensure that they have a positive experience whilst taking part in our research.

The full list of ‘About You’ surveys, launched by the Experience Panels team between 2017 and March 2020, is as follows:

Survey title Survey detail Date range
No. of responses combined into this analysis
‘About You 2017’ Asked the first Experience Panel members to provide their demographic information and their benefit experience. Mar 2017 –Sept 2017 1064
‘About You 2018’ Asked existing panel members to update their details. It also asked additional questions that were not included in the earlier ‘About You 2017’ survey on demographic characteristics (such as ethnicity, faith, and sexual orientation). It also asked for feedback on existing Experience Panels research. May 2018 – Nov 2018 403
‘About You 2019a’ Asked existing panel members to update their demographic information, their benefit experience, and provide some feedback on existing Experience Panels research. Oct 2019 – Mar 2020 331
‘About You 2019b’ Single-question survey asked existing panel members to re-answer one demographic question in ‘About You 2019a’ after it was asked incorrectly. Nov 2019 375
‘About You 2020’ Asked all new panel members, who joined the Experience Panels between July 2019 and March 2020, to provide demographic information and their benefit experience. Jul 2019 –
Mar 2020
‘About You YCP Asked members of the Young Carer Panel (YCP), who had indicated that they wished to join the main Experience Panels, to provide their demographic information and their benefit experience. Nov 2019 – Dec 2019 <10

Each ‘About You’ survey received a different number of responses from panel members. These responses were combined into this report’s analysis. Some ‘About You’ surveys were sent to all existing panel members as ways to keep their details updated – e.g. ‘About You 2019a.’ Other ‘About You’ surveys were targetted at particular panel members – e.g. ‘About You 2020’ was sent only to those who had joined the panels in the recruitment campaign between July 2019 and March 2020.

All questions asked in ‘About You’ surveys are optional. Early ‘About You’ surveys contained a smaller set of questions than later ones.[5] Responses were collected as paper submissions, online, or through a phone call. Accessible formats of ‘About You’ surveys were available on request.

In order to complete the analysis, the available data from across six individual ‘About You’ surveys were first cleaned. This included removing panel members who had responded to an ‘About You’, but were no longer ‘active.’[6] Scottish Government reseachers then combined all available data from the responses of ‘active’ panel member’s into one secure master dataset. All personal identifiable information was stored in a separate secure file.

As part of the process of combining responses into a master dateset, responses in surveys were matched with individual panel member accounts. This was done to ensure that no responses were double counted. Where panel members had submitted responses to multiple ‘About You’ surveys over time, in most cases the analysis was structured to account for their most recent response. This was done to make sure that responses that may change over time were captured – e.g. age.[7]

Once the data had been cleaned and accurately matched, it was then anaylsed. Analysis was split into two parts:

  • Analysis of the data available for new panel members, who joined the Experience Panels between July 2019 and March 2020, following our most recent recruitment campaign.
  • Analysis of the data available for the entire Experience panel membership.

Throughout the report, no panel member is personally identifiable. To protect the anonymity of respondents, we have not published low values (i.e. less than 10) in the tables presented in the sections below.

The information provided in this report must be understood as being representative of these respondents only and not of a wider population.



Back to top