IPPR Scotland

IPPR Scotland will develop evidence, ideas and action to shape a social security system which better meets the needs of those living on low-to-middle incomes in Scotland.

Income | £150,000 | 2 years

Aims and objectives

This proposal will aim to develop the ideas and action required to deliver a radically different social security system in Scotland; one that acts as a springboard as much as a safety net. Given recent devolution of social security powers this proposal will see work to deliver strategic change and long-term impact in Scotland, and in turn across the UK.

This work will build an understanding of poverty and financial insecurity in Scotland among low and middle income families, including who is experiencing it, at which life events, and why. It would then seek to consider what action can be taken through new powers, looking for solutions that go beyond solely benefits and cash payments, and go beyond what the state can do alone. In doing so this work will build a coalition of supporters that will contribute to the research but also maximise our ability to deliver long-term change in Scotland, and in turn across the UK.

Research phase

The research will consider three themes:

  1. How can Scotland’s social security powers best address the income-side of poverty and financial insecurity among low to middle income households?
  2. How can we best address the cost-side of poverty and financial insecurity?
  3. How can we promote financial resilience throughout the income spectrum including through insurance, savings and take-up of preventative services?

Across these themes we will build from the perspective of the key population groups in relation to poverty and financial insecurity and an in-depth understanding of the life events most likely to cause financial insecurity in Scotland.

Considering how social security can deliver impacts beyond the income-side of poverty and insecurity will be a novel approach. It will allow us to consider how a different social security system could enable or provide, for example, access to cheaper borrowing; payments to boost savings; insurance-style arrangements to increase financial resilience; and outreach to increase take-up of other services or payments to prevent poverty and insecurity.

Methods (also see separate Research Methods paper)

We will establish a Programme Board to steer the work including businesses, civil society organisations, and those with experience of poverty or financial insecurity from low and middle income groups.

We will undertake:

  • Qualitative research to embed the voice of lived experience of poverty and insecurity and interviews with policy experts.
  • Literature review across the three themes outlined above, including historical, RUK and international examples.
  • Quantitative analysis to understand the nature of poverty and financial insecurity within the key population groups outlined above.
  • Microsimulation analysis, using IPPR Scotland’s tax/benefit model, to understand the potential costs and impacts of differing social security options.
  • Roundtables with key stakeholders to contribute to analysis and ideas.
  • Desk-based policy development.
  • ‘Ideas Labs’ to test recommendations including with potential claimants.

Impact phase

We will undertake impact work throughout the project, from inception, with a focus on four key audiences:

  1. General Public
    • Campaign routes to interact with and promote the research.
    • MSP-facing lobbying activity, including an online petition, supplemented by story-telling campaign activity.
  2. Stakeholder organisations
    • System-analysis of key influential organisations.
    • Organisation campaign toolkits and sign-up routes.
    • Campaign action around key political events utilising coalition networks.
  3. Scottish Parliament
    • Influence parliamentary business through accessible outputs.
    • Engage with political party 2021 manifesto processes.
    • MSP sign-up routes.
    • Targeting key MSPs through constituency/region links within our coalition.
  4. Scottish Government
  • Utilise public and private consultation opportunities.
  • Utilising very strong connections with Ministers, policy officials and advisors.


  • Real-time outputs through our dedicated online content – blogs, images, shareable content, and research updates.
  • Mini-reports/briefings on the key dimensions, population groups and life events connected to poverty and financial insecurity.
  • Research publication around the half-way stage of the project outlining our analysis and solutions.
  • Impact-focused outputs to help support campaigning activity.