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Social security Experience Panels: frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Experience Panels set up to help develop a social security system for Scotland.

1. How many people have signed up to the Experience Panels?

More than 2,400 volunteers from across Scotland have signed up to work with us as part of the Experience Panels.

2. Will recruitment re-open?

We will open recruitment every year, and more frequently if required.

3. Can anyone join the Experience Panels?

The Experience Panels involve people with direct, personal experience of the benefits that will be devolved to the Scottish Government. This covers:

  • most Ill Health and Disability Benefits:
    • Disability Living Allowance
    • Personal Independence Payment
    • Attendance Allowance
    • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Carers Allowance
  • Benefits that are part of the Regulated Social Fund:
    • Funeral Expenses Payments
    • Sure Start Maternity Grant
    • Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments
  • Discretionary Housing Payments and the Scottish Welfare Fund
  • Universal Credit (the Scottish Government will become responsible for some administrative powers over Universal Credit)

People who are acting as a parent/guardian, appointee or power of attorney for someone with experience of any of the above benefits are welcome to register to join the Panels.

4. Why are Experience Panels important?

Putting the user experience first and involving the people of Scotland in the design of processes and services are two of the key principles of social security in Scotland. The Experience Panels are one of the ways that we will put those principles into practice.

Through the Experience Panels, we will work with people who have recent experience of these benefits so that we can design a new social security system with – and for – the people of Scotland.

5. How long will the Experience Panels run for?

The Experience Panels will run for four years. Membership will be refreshed with new members each year (or more frequently if necessary). If you are not currently a member, but are interested in taking part, please contact us and we will let you know when we are recruiting.

6. What is involved in taking part?

Experience Panels members will have a choice of activities that they can take part in. Some will be about the social security system in general and others will be more specific to certain experiences (e.g. focusing on an individual benefit).

Taking part might include completing short surveys, or taking part in interviews and workshops. Activities can be carried out face-to-face, on the phone and online. No matter where people live in Scotland, there will be opportunities to take part.

We will give plenty of notice about upcoming research, and what taking part involves. However, there is no obligation of any kind to get involved in any of the activities.

7. How can I find out about the results of the research?

We want you to know how important the experience panel is to us, and what impact it makes. We will keep in touch with members of the Experience Panels, giving regular updates on how research is being used to make real changes to social security in Scotland.

8. Will taking part affect my benefits?

No. If you are participating in the Experience Panels it will not affect your benefits. Also, none of the information that you provide in any Experience Panels research will affect your benefits.

Any personal information that you provide will be kept completely confidential according to the Data Protection Act. None of the information that you give us will be shared with anyone outside of the Scottish Government.

Research reports may be published as a part of this work, however, information will never be in a form that can reveal your identity.

9. How much time will I have to commit?

You do not have to take part in everything. It will be entirely up to you how much time you want to spend.

There will be a range of activities and topics to suit different members. Some will be about the social security system in general and others will be more specific to certain experiences.

It will be up to you to decide what to participate in. That means that you can choose not to take part in anything, but still remain a member of the Experience Panels.

10. Will I be paid to take part?

No. We are looking for volunteers, so you will not be paid to take part.

11. Will reasonable expenses be covered?

If you have to travel to take part face-to-face, we will make sure that you are not out of pocket. Expenses will be reimbursed after you take part.

12. How long am I expected to be a member for?

The Experience Panels will run for four years, but you can opt out at any time. Membership will be refreshed with new members each year (or more frequently if necessary).

13. Will I be offered extra support to help me take part?

We will make sure that you are comfortable taking part and we recognise that you might need some extra support to be involved. We want to make taking part as easy as possible for everyone involved.

How you will participate will vary depending on the activity. Activities can be carried out face-to-face, on the phone, by post and online.

We will always provide information in advance. If you are asked to meet to discuss something in person, we will cover your expenses and provide any other support that you require to participate.

14. Will the information that I give be in confidence?

Any personal information that you give us will be held according to the Data Protection Act 1998. This means that it will be kept completely confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside of the Scottish Government.

Research reports may be published as a part of this work, however, information will never be in a form that can reveal your identity. A copy of the Privacy Impact Assessment for this project is available for you to look at.

15. What if I want to leave the Experience Panels?

We want as many people to take part as possible. This will help us to make sure that the information that we get best represents the people using the social security system.

However, we understand that people may no longer want to take part for a variety of reasons. Participation is entirely voluntary and you can opt out at any time, without having to give any a reason.

You can contact us at SocialSecurityExperience@gov.scot

Freephone: 0800 029 4974 (includes language line translation and British Sign Language (BSL) users can contact us via http://contactscotland-bsl.org).

16. I don't have personal experience of benefits, why can't I help build the new system?

The panels are being set up to involve people with direct, lived experience of accessing the current benefit system, in designing the new social security system for Scotland. This is because people with recent experience are able to tell us what works well currently, and where there is room for improvement.

However, there are other ways to get involved and let us know what you think. For example, through public consultations. We recently published the results of the responses to our consultation on social security in Scotland. You can find out more about this on our website. Keep up to date by signing up to our regular newsletter.

17. I have experience of the current benefit system as part of my job, why can't I take part in the Experience Panels?

The panels are being set up to involve people with direct, lived experience of accessing the current benefit system, in designing the new social security system for Scotland. This is because people with recent experience are able to tell us what works well currently, and where there is room for improvement. The Scottish Government is currently involving stakeholders in the development of the new system. For example, through stakeholder reference groups and the Expert Advisory Group on Disability and Carers' Benefits.

At this time, we are not able to involve people who have experience of the system in a professional capacity. However, we recognise the great deal of knowledge, understanding and experience that people who work in this area bring.

However, there are other ways to get involved and let us know what you think. For example, through public consultations. We recently published the results of the responses to our consultation on social security in Scotland. You can find out more about this on our website. Keep up to date by signing up to our regular newsletter.

Contact

Email: socialsecurity@gov.scot

Telephone: 0300 244 4000

Post:
Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

Published:
23 Jun 2017
Social security Experience Panels: frequently asked questions