Date: 31 January 2024

Time: 14:00

Venue: Microsoft Teams


  • Judith Paterson (Interim Co-Chair)
  • Dr Marilyn Howard (Member)
  • Dr Jackie Gulland (Member)

Apologies: Dr Mark Simpson (Interim Co-Chair)

In attendance (SCoSS Secretariat)—

  • Stephen Herbert, Secretary
  • Andrew Strong, Head of Policy and Scrutiny
  • Christopher Galloway, Analysis and Participation Support Officer
  • Lisa Kinnear, Governance and Engagement Officer
  • Graeme Hill, Audit Adviser, in attendance for agenda items 6 to 11.

Interim Co-Chair, Judith Paterson, welcomed the Commissioners to the first meeting of the Board in 2024.

Members did not have any relevant interests to declare.

The Minutes of the December Board meeting were considered and, following amendment, agreed.

In attendance—

  • Kate Thomson-McDermott – Head of Carer Benefits and Case Transfer Policy;
  • Jane Sterry, Senior Policy Advisor; and
  • Alice Crawford – Senior Policy Officer.

The Board discussed the content of the draft regulations, which were due to be referred to SCoSS during February, and the timescale for scrutiny of the draft regulations once referred.

The Board reflected on the process for scrutinising the draft regulations and referred to when the report was laid.  The Board considered that there could be scope to consider, in advance of scrutiny of the 2025 draft regulations, how up-rating relates to the wider budget process with particular emphasis on the principles of equality and human rights.


The Interim Co-Chair, Judith Paterson, noted that the Minister for Independence, Jamie Hepburn had requested a courtesy call to discuss the Scottish Government publication ‘Social Security in an independent Scotland’ which took place on 6 December 2023.  The Board noted the publication.

The Secretary and Audit Adviser provided an update on financial controls that have been put in place by the Scottish Government, that apply to all public bodies, for the last quarter of the financial year.  A finance forecast for 2024-25 was also provided and a range of illustrative financial scenarios for 2024-25 were outlined.

The Board considered the impact of the financial controls in Quarter Four of 2023-24 and the 2024-25 financial position.  The Board considered financial priorities for 2024-25 and it was agreed that a further finance update for 2024-25 be provided at the next Board meeting based on the priorities identified by the Board.  The Board also agreed that the currently vacant A3 post within the Secretariat would not be filled.

The Board considered progress against the strategic objectives and priorities in the 2023-24 Business Plan.  The Board had an initial discussion of the strategic objectives and priorities for 2024-25.  The Board agreed to consider a draft Business Plan at the next Board meeting and to an indicative timetable for publication of the Business Plan by June 2024.

The Board noted that the Glen Shuraig review had recommended that a longer-term work programme should be developed by the Board.  The Board considered the potential scope and content of a longer-term work programme and that this work programme should be developed on the same timescale as the 2024-25 Business Plan.

The Board considered, and following amendment, agreed additions to Standing Orders to govern the operation of the Charter sub-committee.  It was also agreed that the Convener and Member of the Charter sub-committee would be agreed at the February Board meeting.

The Board agreed to defer consideration of the Framework document until the February Board meeting.

The Board received an update from the Secretariat on the procurement of external research and for the website maintenance contract.  The Board noted that expenditure for external research and the website contract would require approval by the Accountable Officer.  The Board also noted that it was expected that the website contract should be completed by end March 2024.

Interim Co-Chair, Judith Paterson, noted that she would be meeting with the Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee on 1 February 2024 and would update the Board on that meeting at the February Board meeting.

The Secretariat provided an update on the recruitment of a Chair and Member to the SCoSS Board.  The Board noted the timetable for the recruitment process and that the recruitment panel were due to hold an early engagement meeting, on 7 February, to finalise the recruitment process.


Meeting closed at 17:05

Date of next meeting: Thursday 29 February

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