1. Chair’s Statement and overview of the performance report
We are pleased to present the fourth annual report and accounts for the Scottish Commission on Social Security (SCoSS) for the financial year 2022-23.
The scale and pace of development of devolved social security provision increased markedly during the reporting period and continues to do so. This process takes place against a context of a ‘cost of living crisis’, tightening public finances and recovery from the pandemic. In these challenging times, it is even more important to use the potential of devolved benefits to bring about positive impacts on people’s lives.
The Commission’s role in scrutinising devolved social security legislation and policy has also continued to expand. In particular, we are pleased by the number of our scrutiny recommendations which have been accepted by the Scottish Government and which we consider will make a positive contribution to improving outcomes for the people of Scotland. We have already expanded engagement with stakeholders and people with lived experience to inform our scrutiny of legislation and we look forward to more engagement as we look at how the social security system is delivering for people in practice. Throughout the year, the Commission was pleased to have regularly provided evidence, on our scrutiny report findings, to the Scottish Parliament’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee.
There were challenging circumstances, during the reporting period, with significant change taking place in both the composition of the Board and the Secretariat. We would like to thank Dr Sally Witcher OBE and Sharon McIntyre, who left SCoSS in 2022, for their invaluable contribution to the work of the Commission. Despite this process of change, we are pleased that the Commission undertook a full programme of scrutiny and met all of its statutory obligations. Both the Board and Secretariat have now stabilised and we look forward to a further process of recruitment to the Board, including a new Chair, in due course.
The Commission has also made substantial progress in improving our governance structures and processes. In particular, we have established an Audit Sub-Committee and appointed an Audit Adviser to strengthen the robustness of our governance and financial monitoring processes. As a consequence of these changes, during 2022-23, we reviewed our approach to risk management and our performance report provides examples of how we have taken action to mitigate the risks we face.
The Commission was also subject to an external review of our governance and remit, commissioned by the Scottish Government and undertaken by Glen Shuraig consultants, that made a number of recommendations which we are in the process of implementing. Lastly, the SCoSS website was launched during 2022-23 and has significantly enhanced the accessibility of our scrutiny reports and our work more generally.
Our annual report and accounts for 2022-23 demonstrate that SCoSS is utilising the public monies we are allocated in an effective and responsible manner that is achieving best value and bringing about positive change for those who receive social security assistance.
The SCoSS Board has reviewed this report and is satisfied that it provides an accurate account of its work and finances over the period.
Judith Paterson and Dr Mark Simpson, Interim Co-Chairs, Scottish Commission on Social Security