Information

Social Security Experience Panels - Seldom Heard research programme: vulnerable groups

This report presents the main findings of the first wave of research with vulnerable groups as part of the ‘Seldom Heard Voices’ research programme.

This document is part of a collection


Research Methods

Participant demographics

Research consisted of one-to-one interviews with a total of 20 participants. Participants were based in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeenshire, Perth, Erskine, Dundee, Falkirk, Kilmarnock and Fife. No one in the 'Homeless' subgroup was homeless at the time of interview, rather they had experienced periods of homelessness prior to interview.

Table 1: Participants by area

Geographical area

Total no. of participants

Glasgow

5

Edinburgh

5

Kilmarnock

1

Falkirk

1

Fife

1

Perth

1

Dundee

1

Aberdeenshire

2

Erskine

3

Two participants were in the 25 to 45 age group, and 18 in the 45 to 70 age group at the time of interview. One research participant was identified as Minority Ethnic. All participants were living with at least one physical or mental health condition.

Table 2: Physical and mental health conditions

Physical

Mental

Both

Total no. of participants in sub-group

Veterans

5

6

4

7

Homeless

6

6

6

7

HIV/Hep C

5

3

3

6

Participants claimed, or had previously claimed the benefits listed in below.

Table 3: Type of benefit claimed

Benefit

Total no. of Participants

Universal Credit

8

Personal Independence Payment

12

Carers Allowance

3

Job Seekers Allowance

2

Employment Support Allowance

10

Housing Benefit

3

Incapacity Benefit

1

Disability Living Allowance

4

Attendance Allowance

1

Council Tax Benefit

2

Income Top Up

1

Severe Disability Allowance

1

Interview method

All interviews were undertaken by an independent research company, 'Mark Diffley Consultancy and Research', commissioned by the Scottish Government. Initially, interviews were carried out face-to face between October 2019 to February 2020 before pausing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thereafter, they were conducted from July to August 2020 via video conferencing.

Interviews lasted up to an hour in length and were carried out between a member of the research consultancy and the individual participant. The exception was when a participant brought along their spouse, who interviewed on the participants' behalf, most usually due to their debilitating health conditions.

Participants were recruited via stakeholder organisations relating to each sub-group (for example, Shelter Scotland for the Homeless). Demographic quotas were not used in the recruitment of participants, although where possible a mixture of genders and ages were sought.

All research carried out was compliant with Social Research Association Ethical Guidelines. Mark Diffley Consultancy and Research did not disclose the identities of participants to Scottish Government researchers, while all participants consented to participate after having been informed of their rights, including those relating to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). A £20 gift voucher was offered as an incentive for taking part. Some participants who took part did not accept the monetary incentive.

Research Questions

Participants were asked questions about their experiences and perceptions of:

  • Social security services in general – including their awareness of social security services, the perceived ease/difficulty of accessibility to services, the need for help to access these services, their perceived eligibility for claiming benefits and what benefits they receive currently and in the past.
  • The current benefits system – including awareness of benefit information, experiences of providing medical evidence, and opinions on how people from diverse groups can be treated with dignity, fairness and respect.
  • What the future social security system should be like – including the application process, information provided on benefits, and local delivery services.

Quotations

The data provided by the research contractors, and analysed in this briefing, are summaries of interviews rather than full verbatim transcripts. Where quotation marks are used in excerpts ("…"), this indicates direct quotations of participants as recorded by the research contractor. All other text included in excerpts represents the summarised note taking of the interviewer as below:

He has general worries that his benefits are going to be reduced…particularly when he's heard a lot of "horror stories" on the news / internet about people having their benefit cut with no rhyme or reason.

[Veteran participant, Aberdeen]

A list of commonly used abbreviations used in this report are found in Annex B.

Contact

Email: Socialresearch@gov.scot

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