Annual Report and Accounts for year ended 2019-20

Annual report and accounts of the Scottish Commission on Social Security for the year ended 31 March 2020.

Accountability Report

This section reports who the Members and Accountable Officer are for SCoSS’s governance framework and the Accountable Officer’s responsibilities. SCoSS’s governance, audit functions and risk management arrangements are discussed in the Performance Report and further expanded in the Framework Document.

The Chair and Members

The Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 provides that there shall be a Chair and at least two but no more than four other members. The Chair and Members have been appointed to SCoSS by the Scottish Ministers in line with the Code of Practice for Ministerial Public Appointments in Scotland. As at 31 March 2020 there were four Commissioners: Dr Sally Witcher, Chair, Sharon McIntyre, Judith Paterson and Mark Simpson.

There were no changes to the Chair and Members this year.

Under Schedule 1, Chapter 4 of the Social Security Act (Scotland) 2018, the Scottish Ministers have directed SCoSS to prepare for each financial year a statement of accounts in the form and on the basis set out in the Accounts Direction. The accounts are prepared on an accruals basis, and must give a true and fair view in accordance with the financial reporting framework, and for such internal control as the Accountable Officer determines is necessary to enable the preparation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error.

In preparing the accounts, the Accountable Officer is required to comply with the requirements of the Government Financial Reporting Manual and in particular to:

  • observe the accounts direction issued by the Scottish Ministers, including the relevant accounting and disclosure requirements, and apply suitable accounting policies on a consistent basis
  • make judgments and estimates on a reasonable basis
  • state whether applicable accounting standards as set out in the Government Financial Reporting Manual have been followed, and disclose and explain any material departures in the financial statements
  • prepare the financial statements on a ‘going concern’ basis
  • confirm that the Annual Report and Accounts as a whole is fair, balanced and understandable and take personal responsibility for the Annual Report and Accounts and the judgements required for determining that it is fair, balanced and understandable.

The Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government, as Principal Accountable Officer for the Scottish Administration, designated that Ann McVie is the Accountable Officer for the Commission.

The responsibilities of an Accountable Officer, including responsibility for the propriety and regularity of the public finances for which the Accountable Officer is answerable, for keeping proper records and for safeguarding the Commission’s assets, are set out in the Scottish Government Memorandum to Accountable Officers of Other Public Bodies and published within the Scottish Public Finance Manual.

  • As Accountable Officer, I have taken all the steps that I ought to have taken to make myself aware of any relevant audit
    information and to establish that the Commission’s auditors were aware of that information.
  • So far as I am aware, there is no relevant audit information of which the auditors are unaware.
  • I confirm that the annual report and accounts as a whole is fair, balanced and understandable and that I take personal responsibility for the annual report and accounts and the judgments required for determining that it is fair, balanced and understandable.

As Accountable Officer, I have responsibility for maintaining a sound system of internal control that supports the achievement of the organisation’s policies, aims and objectives, set by Scottish Ministers, whilst safeguarding the public funds and assets for which I am personally responsible, in accordance with the responsibilities set out in the “Accountable Officer’s Memorandum”. In the discharge of my personal responsibilities I ensure organisational compliance with the Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM). The SPFM is issued by the Scottish Ministers to provide guidance to The Scottish Government and other relevant bodies on the proper handling and reporting of public funds. It sets out the relevant statutory, parliamentary, and administrative requirements, emphasises the need for economy, efficiency, and effectiveness, and promotes good practice and high standards of propriety.

SCoSS’s governance and risk management arrangements are fully discussed in the Performance Report and further expanded in the Framework Document. In particular, sections 3.4 and 3.5 of the Performance Report provide: an assessment of corporate governance with reference to compliance with best practice principles and relevant guidance; and an assessment of SCoSS’s risk management arrangements and risk profile.

The SCoSS board contains no committees or sub-committees. Since SCoSS’s establishment, no written authorities have been provided to the Accountable Officer; there have been no lapses of data security; and no significant risk-related matters have arisen.

This governance statement relates to SCoSS’s governance system as it applied during 2019/20.

All staff working for SCoSS are civil servants and bound by the Civil Service Code and other civil service requirements as to their conduct, impartiality and confidentiality. SCoSS staff remain civil servants employed by the Scottish Government. Changes to pay and conditions will be made in line with wider Scottish Government arrangements.

SCoSS’s budget should be reviewed to reflect any changes to staff remuneration.

Members of SCoSS, including the Chair, are non-executive appointments made by the Scottish Ministers in line with the Code of Practice for Ministerial Public Appointments in Scotland. The role of Members is to provide direction, support and guidance to ensure the body delivers and is committed to delivering its functions effectively and efficiently and in accordance with the aims, policies and priorities identified within the Act.

The Chair and Members have been appointed to SCoSS through a public appointment round regulated and monitored by the Ethical Standards Commissioner. As such, their pay and conditions are the responsibility of the Public Appointments branch of the People Directorate within the Scottish Government.

Remuneration (daily fees), allowances and expenses paid to the Chair and Members must comply with the SG Pay Policy for Senior Appointments and any specific guidance on such matters issued by the Scottish Ministers.

The analysis of staff numbers and costs disclosed below is audited by the external auditors.

Board Member£'000
Sharon McIntyre5 – 10
Judith Paterson5 – 10
Mark Simpson5 – 10
Dr Sally Witcher (Chair)20 – 25

Ann McVie is the Deputy Director, Social Security Policy and the Accountable Officer for SCoSS. She is a full-time employee of the Scottish Government and her salary is paid directly from the Scottish Government budget. SCoSS did not contribute to her pay, benefits or pension. She also received no bonuses or benefits in kind.

Staff MemberBasic Pay Range (£'000)Bonus Payments (£'000)Benefits in Kind (£'000)
Ann McVie75-80 00

The staff report contains information relating to staff numbers and costs.

Number of senior civil service staff

As at 31 March 2020, SCoSS did not employ any Senior Civil Servants.

As noted above (Section 4.2) the SCoSS Secretariat are all civil servants, employed by the Scottish Government and on Scottish Government Pay, Terms & Conditions.

FTE31 March 2020
Permanent Staff3
Temporary Staff-

A temporary member of staff was employed by the Commission in the first quarter of 2019-20.

Staff costs for SCoSS are set out below.

Staff costs2019-20 £
Wages & Salaries91,707
Social Security Costs 9,472
Other Pension Costs23,893
SCoSS Board Member Fees39,337
Interim Manager Costs9,187
Staff Leave Adjustment4,043
Total177, 639

Wages and salaries include gross salaries, non-consolidated payments, overtime and any other allowance that is subject to UK taxation.

Due to the low number of staff working in SCoSS, this data cannot be disclosed without risk of identifying individual members of staff. As such, this information cannot be disclosed without risk of breaching data security and so has been omitted from the report.

The Social Security Policy Division works in conjunction with SCoSS to ensure that HR policies, practices and systems comply with employment and equality legislation, and standards expected of public sector employers. All SCoSS’s permanent staff, as Scottish Government employees, are covered by Scottish Government policies including its Delivering Diversity and Equality policy. Further to this, SCoSS also relies on Scottish Government disability policies, which covers areas such as how we fill posts, monitoring and discussing performance and providing reasonable adjustments. This also includes continuing to implement the recommendations set out in the Scottish Government publication, “Recruitment and Retention Plan for Disabled People; 2019”

The Scottish Government is also committed to providing all staff, including the SCoSS Secretariat, with opportunities for learning to help staff understand what valuing diversity means in practice, and how to take action to build an inclusive workplace culture.

The Chair and Board Members appointees are also covered by have to adhere to the Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies in Scotland in which Diversity and Equality remains a core principle and are expected to abide by the Civil Service Code.

They also have a responsibility to make sure that they are familiar with, and that their actions comply with, the provisions of contained within the agreed Code of Conduct for Board Members which was published in February 2020.

Ann McVie

Deputy Director, Social Security Policy (Accountable Officer)

09 December 2020

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