Experts by Experience Panel

Text reading 'The Panel'. Abstract image of the heads and shoulders of seven figures side by side.

This page details the Commission’s Experts by Experience Panel that ran from August 2021 to June 2023. The Commission will be recruiting a new Panel in early 2024.

Full details of, and learning from, the Commission’s first Experts by Experience Panel can be found here: 
Panel Learning Report (PDF, 48 Pages, 1.12 MB)

The Panel

In August 2021 the Commission established an Experts by Experience Panel (‘the Panel’) – made up of 19 people from across Scotland. When we say ‘experts by experience’ we mean people who have lived experience of poverty and inequality.

The Panel was developed to embed participation in the work of the Commission and to ensure that those with lived experience of poverty were engaged in all aspects of the Commission’s work. The Panel ran for almost two years, until June 2023, with activities conducted largely online, alongside some hybrid meetings and in-person events.

The Panel was made up of experts by experience who were:

Prioritising Lived Experience in the Commission

 As part of its Strategic Plan 2020-2023, the Commission has an over-arching strategic priority to:

“Amplify the voices of experts by experience to make sure they are part of identifying issues, developing and designing solutions, and scrutinising progress.”

 In 2020, in order to develop an approach to involving ‘experts by experience’ – people with lived experience of poverty – in its work, the Commission funded the Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit (SPIRU) to co-produce guidance with a group of experts by experience.

This guidance set out a range of principles, recommendations and practical steps that the Commission could take forward to meaningfully engage experts by experience in its work. It made clear that to properly and meaningfully engage people with lived experience takes considerable time, effort and resource.

Panel Recruitment

To recruit Panel members, we worked in partnership with local groups, organisations and practitioners from across Scotland. With support from Disability Equality Scotland, we have also developed accessible recruitment materials including leaflets, a video, presentation materials, social media content, and application forms.

We work with partner groups and organisations to identify experts by experience who would be interested in joining the Panel and also work with partners who can provide support to people who want to join the Panel. We invite people who are interested to apply online, by post or on the phone.

How did the Panel work?

Panel members met online once per month and worked together to identify issues, and to develop advice and scrutiny around poverty and inequality. Members met more frequently to work on urgent or complex issues. Panel members worked together to develop Terms of Reference and a Group Agreement. The Terms of Reference document outlined the purpose of the Panel, the details of membership, the roles of Panel members and the Commission, and ways of working. The Group Agreement outlined how Panel members, members of the Secretariat and Commissioners work together in a group context.

The whole Commission and the Panel met three times, once online and twice in a hybrid meeting. Individual or small groups of Commissioners also attended Panel meetings and worked alongside small groups of Panel members to develop responses; to take part in consultations, meetings and events; and as part of the short life tax working group. Panel members also met with Ministers and staff from Scottish Government to share their views directly.

You can read at the following webpage about some Experts by Experience Case Studies.

Learning from the Commission’s Experts by Experience Panel

The Commission produced a learning report which details the purpose, process and context of the Commission’s approach in developing and working with the Panel. We hope that much of the learning will prove useful for practitioners, policymakers and decision-makers who are engaged in, or seeking to develop, participatory processes with experts by experience.

The report details:
• The Commission’s objectives in establishing the Panel.
• The context in which the Panel was established and embedded.
• The Commission’s approach to embedding the participation of the Panel in its work, including
principles, design, methods and approach to learning.
• Details of the activities that the Panel took part in.
• The impact of the Panel on Panel members, the Commission and Scottish Government.
• Reflections on and key learning from the Commission’s work with the Panel.

Why lived experience?

We asked our former Panel members why people with lived experience of poverty should be involved in decisions and actions to tackle poverty in Scotland. You can watch this short video (2 mins) to see what they said.

Video transcript:

We asked our Panel members why it is important to involve people with lived experience in decisions about poverty and inequality.

This is what they told us…

  • They are experts in their own way and it’s important that decisions consider these invaluable experiences, and learn from them, to improve the situation for everyone.
  • We can tell exactly what we are living in, and what we might need to make life easier, without worrying where the next meal comes from.
  • So that the government can find out from the people who live through poverty on a daily basis what they go through, [and] can try make changes to get families and everyone else out of poverty.
  • They can give first hand experience of their hardships, and the things they would like changed, that would improve their lives financially and otherwise.
  • In the hope it will open closed doors to help others trapped in social deprivation.
  • The only way to reduce poverty is to understand lived experience. If you are making decisions without consulting the people in question well what is the point?
  • Because to make a genuine effective change, you need people that have experience in poverty and inequality to provide necessary advice and opinions.
  • People who have experience of poverty know what the issues are that caused them to fall into hardship.
  • Only they can truly understand the issues facing people living with poverty and inequality. They will be able to speak authoritatively about the experience they had.
  • There is too much misinformation. People need to know the truth of poverty.
  • There are the people who are in the know about what poverty and inequality is, they are ones who can talk on how it could be reduced.
  • People with lived experience are the experts. Their voices need to be heard to ensure any decisions made are the right decisions.

Thanks to our Panel members for sharing their thoughts.

For more information

If you have any questions, or would like any further information about the Panel, contact 

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