beta

You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - Research Publication

The impact of welfare reform tracking study: sweep four report

Published: 24 Jun 2016
Part of:
Equality and rights
ISBN:
9781786522870

Study was to explore the impact of ongoing welfare changes on a range of working age households in Scotland.

51 page PDF

721.0kB

51 page PDF

721.0kB

Contents
The impact of welfare reform tracking study: sweep four report
METHODOLOGY AND DATA

51 page PDF

721.0kB

METHODOLOGY AND DATA

  • Chapter 2 outlines the study's methodology and presents the size and key characteristics of the sample.
  • The study utilised a qualitative longitudinal approach in order to best track participants' experiences over time, as the welfare changes were introduced.
  • In-depth, semi-structured interviews were carried out with 24 participants in sweep 4.
  • All participants interviewed were currently in receipt of working age welfare benefits, and were selected using a purposive sampling strategy which was designed to reach those in receipt of benefits from across Scotland, and cover a diverse set of household circumstances.

Methodology

The study takes a qualitative longitudinal approach, covering approximately two and a half years (September 2013-January 2016). [6] This report covers the fourth and final sweep of interviews. [7]

In-depth, semi-structured interviews were carried out with participants in all four sweeps. Interviews in sweep 1 were used to gather baseline information. In sweeps 2 and 3, the questions centred on the changes since the last interview. Together with the background information collected in sweep 1, questions were tailored to participants' circumstances, focussing on areas most relevant to them. In sweep 3 an additional module of questions on the support networks of participants was also included. The focus of these questions was on how services, organisations and individuals support people, and to identify lessons for how services can better meet the requirements of those who need support. In sweep 4, as well as asking questions about the changes since the last interview, participants were asked to reflect on the past and think about the future. For example, participants were asked to think back to the time they were first interviewed (in most cases around two years previously) and reflect on whether they felt that since then their overall situation had improved, got worse, or stayed about the same.

In conducting the interviews, the research team used a topic guide to give a clear idea of the issues to cover. The interview schedule used in sweep 4 is shown in Appendix 3. Most questions focused on open responses, providing the opportunity for participants to give rich, personal and in-depth accounts of their experiences and to raise other issues. For sweeps 1 to 3, all interviews were conducted face to face (bar one interview in sweep 3). This allowed the researchers to build a rapport with participants (this was especially important in helping to minimise sample attrition between sweeps). In sweep 4, having established a rapport with participants, all but two of the interviews were conducted over the telephone. Both face-to-face and telephone interviews lasted between 45 and 90 minutes.

Participants were given an information sheet before participating in the study in sweep 1. Interviewers reiterated this information prior to subsequent interviews and answered any questions that the participant had. Consent was obtained (either written or orally) before proceeding with all interviews in each sweep. Interviews were audio recorded where permission was given, and partially transcribed (i.e. relevant content from interviews, such as the households' accounts of their experiences, but not incidental conversation or 'warm up' questions).

No payment for time provided by participants was given. However, participants were given a voucher (sent by post in the case of telephone interviews) to compensate for out of pocket expenses, at a rate of £10 per household per meeting.

This study received research ethics approval from Edinburgh Napier Business School's Research Integrity Committee.

Sample characteristics

Twenty-four participants were interviewed at sweep 4 of the study. Interviews took place between November 2015 and February 2016.

Table 2.1: Sample attrition

Sweep

Sample

Reasons for non-participation

Sweep 1
(Sep 2013 - Feb 2014)

43

N/A

Sweep 2
(Apr - June 2014)

35

41 to contact (2 did not meet inclusion criteria)
2 not available this sweep
4 could not be contacted

Sweep 3
(Nov 2014 - Feb 2015)

28

37 to contact (previous sample + 2 unavailable at previous sweep)
4 not available this sweep
5 could not be contacted

Sweep 4
(Nov 2015 - Feb 2016)

24

32 to contact (previous sample + 4 unavailable at previous sweep)
2 did not wish to participate
1 not available this sweep
5 could not be contacted

Forty-three participants were interviewed at sweep 1. Participants were initially selected at sweep 1 using a purposive sampling strategy. The main criterion for inclusion in the sample was that the participant was of working age, and in receipt of at least one of the benefits subject to reform. Consideration was also given to obtaining representation across a variety of characteristics such as type of benefit, age, gender, disability, household composition and urban-rural dwelling. The sample is neither large nor 'representative' enough to draw firm generalisations across all people in Scotland. However, the study provides valuable insights into the experiences of those in receipt of benefits and highlights some of the issues faced by specific groups which could be followed up in more depth in other research.

Table 2.2: Overview of sample characteristics

Household characteristic

Requirements for diverse sample

Sweep 1

Sweep 2

Sweep 3

Sweep 4

Change between sweeps 1 and 4

Children

with dependent children under the age of five years

5

2

1

1

-4

with dependent children over the age of five years

16

13

8

5

-11

with two or fewer dependent children

16

11

7

5

-11

with more than two dependent children

3

3

1

0

-3

without dependent children

24

21

20

19

-5

lone parent households

10

7

3

3

-7

where both parents/carers present

9

7

5

2

-7

Employment

where members are employed full-time

2

3

3

3

1

where members are employed part-time

2

4

3

2

0

where some members are employed and others unemployed

6

6

5

4

-2

where all adults are unemployed

33

22

17

15

-18

Protected characteristics

households with disabled adults

27

24

20

17

-10

households with disabled children

3

2

2

0

-3

household with both men and women

19

16

14

10

-9

households with working age adults of different ages

19

16

14

10

-9

households with ethnic minority adults

1

1

1

1

0

Location

rural areas

6

6

4

3

-3

urban areas (but not cities)

18

15

12

11

-7

cities

19

14

12

10

-9

Gender

Male

17

15

15

12

-5

Female

26

20

13

12

-14

Total sample

43

35

28

24

-19

Note: Overlapping categories mean that totals within categories may not sum to total sample. Reported change between sweeps reflects changes in circumstances as well as drop out (e.g. moving into work, children turning five, etc.).

Over the course of the study there has been some 'drop out', as can be expected, due to health reasons, changing address, non-response to interview requests, etc. Participants either could not be contacted, or a suitable time to interview them could not be arranged during the relevant fieldwork period. Table 2.2 shows the characteristics of the sample over the four sweeps, and highlights that the attrition was concentrated amongst certain households.

Figure 2.1: Longitudinal participation

Figure 2.1: Longitudinal participation

Grey shaded cells indicate participation.

Although the total sample size has fallen over the course of the study, this has not simply been the case of participants permanently dropping out between sweeps; some participants have moved in and out of the study (Figure 2.1). The result of this is that there is some degree of longitudinal information on 37 participants.


Contact

Email: Social Research