Social Security Scotland – insights research programme: overview

An introduction to Social Security Scotland's client and staff insights research programme, with initial findings for the period September to December 2018.

This document is part of a collection

3. Background

In September 2018, Social Security Scotland was established as a new Executive Agency of the Scottish Government. Social Security Scotland is responsible for the delivery of a number of devolved social security benefits to those who rely on them. 

An analytical team within Social Security Scotland are responsible for collecting, analysing and publishing management information, research and statistics that relate to the delivery and performance of the organisation. Within this, a programme client and staff insights research is being established, to gather the experiences, needs and priorities of those who use and deliver social security in Scotland. This information, in turn, will be fed back into the organisation’s processes, policy and practice, to facilitate continuous improvement. This work will be co-designed with people who have lived experience of social security, building on the work undertaken as part of the Social Security Experience Panels and the development of the Social Security Charter.

Experience Panel work aims to inform the design of Scotland’s Social Security system, and primarily involves Scottish Government researchers asking panel members how the system should look. Client Insights work will gather peoples’ perceptions of the delivery and performance of the new social security system, and will primarily involve Social Security Scotland researchers asking users how their experience has been. Benefit-specific strands of research will transition from Experience Panels to Client Insights as benefits go live, and research activity will be designed in a way that facilitates cumulative learning. 

Client Insights research is also distinct from formal client feedback (complaints, compliments and suggestions). The main distinction lies in the client’s decision to formalise their feedback. Where complaints are recorded, for example, it is crucial that the client is aware of the formal recording, and they can choose to be identified against the complaint and receive a reply. Insights research will always be anonymous, and as such will supplement and add additional evidence to other work on formal feedback.

Throughout Social Security Scotland’s first quarter, the main priorities for the Client and Staff Insights programme were to collect data on:

  • Client interactions and experiences with the services provided by Social Security Scotland at point of contact
  • Staff demographic information and experiences of being part of the new organisation

Initial findings for the above research strands are presented in section 5.

As the organisation continues to develop, the remit of the research programme will expand to include:

  • The measurement of clients’ overall experiences – gathering overarching views from clients on their whole experience of engaging with the system. This will inform ongoing service design, support continuous improvement activity and provide a main source of data for measuring the Social Security Charter commitments. 
  • The measurement of staff experiences with recruitment, on-boarding and training processes – gathering views from each new intake of staff to apply learning to recruitment and related processes during the organisation’s rapid period of growth.

Alongside these strands of activity, additional research will be undertaken in relation to arising priorities as the programme is developed with people with lived experience. 



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