Social Security Experience Panels: Personal Independence Payment health assessments

Panels' views expressed in a survey on Personal Independence Payment health assessments.

This document is part of a collection

Background and research methods

The Scottish Government is becoming responsible for some of the benefits currently delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions. This includes Personal Independence Payment, a benefit designed to help people with the additional costs incurred as a consequence of living with a disability or long term health condition.

As part of the work to prepare for this change, the Scottish Government set up the Social Security Experience Panels. The Experience Panels are made up of around 2,400 people from across Scotland who have recent experience of at least one of the benefits being devolved to Scotland. Through this research, Experience Panel members are working with the Scottish Government to guide what Personal Independence Payment will look like once administered by the Scottish Government.

The development and design of what Personal Independence Payment will look like once transferred to Scotland is well underway, with a number of decisions already made. For example, the Scottish Government has committed to end the current policy of using private healthcare organisations to perform health assessments on applicants and to reduce the overall number of face to face health assessments which take place[1].

These commitments sit alongside the wider vision of creating a new social security system for Scotland, which is based on treating all clients with dignity, fairness and respect.

This research provides evidence to inform the continued development of Personal Independence Payment in Scotland.

This research considered:

  • views on booking a Personal Independence Payment health assessment, and what factors are important for clients to choose when booking;
  • views on health assessors, their backgrounds and knowledge and whether a health assessment should be recorded;
  • how long health assessments should last, and what should happen if the health assessment lasts longer than the client can manage;
  • reasons for needing to miss or cancel a health assessment; and
  • experience of claiming expenses after attending a health assessment.

Participants were recruited from the Scottish Government Experience Panels. All Experience Panel members who had Experience of claiming or receiving - or helping someone else to claim or receive - Personal Independence Payment were invited to take part in the survey.

The Social Security Experience Panels are a longitudinal research project. The panels are made up of volunteers from the Scottish population who have experience of at least one of the benefits that are being devolved to Scotland. The results of this work should be regarded as being reflective of the experience and views of the participants only, and are not indicative of the wider Scottish population. Percentages are given only to show a broad sense of the balance of opinion across participants.

The results of the survey have been grouped into broad themes, and the quotes used in each theme may have come from responses to different questions.

Survey Method

All Experience Panel members who had experience of claiming Personal Independence Payment were invited to take part in the survey. Participation in Experience Panels research is optional, and in this case 128 people chose to complete the survey (a response rate of 14.84 per cent).

Information from the survey was added to information from the 'About Your Benefits and You[2]' and 'Social Security Experience Panels: Who is in the panels and their experiences so far[3]' surveys. The demographic data collected in these surveys was linked to the information supplied by respondents of this survey as part of the longitudinal data set for the wider Experience Panels project. This data was not available for all survey respondents. The following demographic information is given to give context to the findings from the survey.

A third of respondents who we have demographic information for identified as 'man or boy' (33 per cent) and just over two thirds (67 per cent) identified as 'woman or girl'.

Table 1: Gender of survey respondents (n=119)

Gender %
Man or boy 33
Woman or girl 67
Total 100

Almost nine in ten survey respondents were aged 45 or over (88 per cent) and just under a third were aged 60 or over (31 per cent). Just over one in ten respondents were aged between 25 and 44 (12 per cent) with none under the age of 25.

Table 2: Age of survey respondents (n=118)

Age %
Under 25 0
25 - 44 12
45 - 59 57
60 - 79 30
80 or over 1
Prefer not to say 1
Total 101

Over eight in ten respondents (84 per cent) had a disability or long term health condition.

Table 3: Disability status of respondents (n=120)

Disability Status %
Disabled 84
Not disabled 16
Total 100

Over two thirds of respondents had a physical disability (69 per cent) and two thirds exactly had chronic pain (66 per cent). Four in ten had a mental health issue (40 per cent) and around one in ten had a severe hearing impairment (12 per cent) or severe visual impairment (7 per cent). Almost two thirds told us they had some other kind of disability or long term health condition (61 per cent).

Table 4: Disability types of respondents (n=119-120)[4]

Disability Types %
Has a physical disability 69
Has chronic pain 66
Has a mental health condition 40
Has a severe hearing impairment 12
Has a severe visual impairment 12
Has a learning disability 4
Has another kind of disability or long term health condition 61

Almost half of survey respondents cared for a family member or friend (52 per cent).

Table 5: Caring status of respondents (n=117)

Caring status %
Carer 52
Not a carer 47
Prefer not to say 1
Total 100

Survey respondents most commonly cared for an adult friend or relative (41 per cent), but over one in five was a carer due to old age (22 per cent). Just over one in ten cared for a child (13 per cent).

Table 6: Who do respondents care for? (n=120)

Care status %
Cares for an adult 41
Cares for a child 13
Carer due to old age 22

Survey respondents took part from twenty-seven of the thirty-two local authority areas in Scotland.

Figure 1: Heat map of respondent locations

Figure 1: Heat map of respondent locations

The majority lived in an urban area (77 per cent).[5]

Table 7: Location of respondents (n=132)

Location %
Urban 77
Rural 23
Total 100

Survey respondents who took part had experience of claiming or helping someone else to claim a wide range of benefits.

The most common benefits claimed by survey respondents were Disabiltiy Living Allowance (100 per cent) and Personal Independence Payment (99 per cent). The least common benefits claimed were for Funeral Expenses (17 per cent), Industrial Injuries Disabiltiy Benefit (10 per cent) and Sure Start Maternity Grant (10 per cent).

Table 8: Respondents benefit experience (n=120)[6]

Benefit %
Disability Living Allowance 100
Personal Independence Payment 99
Carer's Allowance 50
Cold Weather Payment 42
Winter Fuel Payment 37
Discretionary Housing Payment 28
Attendance Allowance 23
Scottish Welfare Fund 23
Severe Disablement Allowance 23
Universal Credit 17
Funeral Expenses 17
Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit 10
Sure Start Maternity Grant 10

More detailed demographic information on the Experience Panels as a whole can be found in 'Social Security Experience Panels: Who is in the panels and their experiences so far'[7].



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