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Social Security Experience Panels: Carer's Allowance Supplement

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About the research

This report details the key themes which emerged from qualitative research conducted primarily through semi-structured interviews on Carer's Allowance and the introduction of the Carer's Allowance Supplement which took place in February and March 2018. These interviews aimed to help us understand:

  • the interviewee's experience and views of Carer's Allowance, including any barriers within the current system
  • the interviewee's level of understanding and awareness of the Scottish Government's intention to introduce the Carer's Allowance Supplement
  • how we could clearly communicate information about the supplement to people who will receive it
  • any questions or concerns that people might have if they were to receive information about the Carer's Allowance Supplement.

Part of the interview involved sharing with participants early drafts of a letter that would go out to people who would receive the Carer's Allowance Supplement, to get participant feedback on the language and style of communication.

Face-to-face interviews were conducted at accessible venues in Edinburgh and Perth. To ensure that we heard from people living across Scotland, and from those who due to disability or caring responsibilities are unable to attend face-to-face events, we also offered phone interviews. 7 face-to-face interviews and 17 phone interviews were held. Those who were unable to respond either face-to-face or over the phone were also offered the opportunity to provide written feedback. 8 panel members submitted written responses in this way.

The interviews were scheduled on a self-selecting basis with people who have experience related to Carer's Allowance. The research was intended to provide an understanding of a range of current users' experiences and views in relation to the above topics, and the analysis below should not be taken to be representative of any wider population.

About the participants

All participants in this research were members of the Social Security Experience Panels who had experience related to Carer's Allowance. Most participants received Carer's Allowance. A minority were people who are cared for by someone on Carer's Allowance, or were unsuccessful applicants for Carer's Allowance.

Participants included people who are disabled or have additional support needs, including a learning disability, mental health conditions, fluctuating conditions, and degenerative conditions.

Participants included people from across 20 local authority areas, including rural and remote communities, and islands.

Participants' experience of Carer's Allowance was varied, and included some who had received Carer's Allowance for many years, as well as more recent applicants. Some participants cared for one person, and others cared for multiple people (between 2 and 4). There was representation of people who care for a partner, child (or children), other family member, and a friend.

Some participants had experience of working part time whilst on Carer's Allowance. Others received additional income through other benefits including housing benefit, income support, tax credits and disability benefits.

Knowledge and awareness of the supplement varied significantly between participants. Some had little or no knowledge of the intention to introduce the supplement, and a small number had little awareness of the changes to social security generally. Other participants knew about the intention to increase Carer's Allowance, but did not know about the plan for the supplement. Some had detailed knowledge of the intention to introduce the supplement, including timescales, the amount, and the eligibility criteria.