Date: 22 November 2023

Time: 13:30

Venue: Microsoft Teams


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

Apologies: None

In Attendance (SCoSS Secretariat)—

  • Andrew Strong, Head of Policy and Scrutiny
  • Andrzej Hagger, Analysis and Participation Officer
  • Christopher Galloway, Analysis and Participation Support Officer
  • Dorothy Warren, Governance and Engagement Officer
  • Lisa Kinnear, Service Support Administrator
  • Graeme Hill, Audit Adviser (In attendance for Agenda Items 3, 8, 9 and 10).

The Interim Co-Chair, Judith Paterson, welcomed the Commissioners to the tenth meeting of the Board in 2023.

Members did not have any relevant interests to declare.

The Minutes of the October Board meeting were considered and agreed.

In attendance—

  • Shirley-Anne Somerville, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice
  • Elizabeth Hurst-High, Social Security Strategy Lead, Scottish Government

The Board discussed a wide range of topics with the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice including—

  • The impact of SCoSS scrutiny report recommendations;
  • External research that the Board is intending to commission with regard to the delivery of the commitments in the Social Security Charter and whether people are getting the service that the Social Security Charter says they should expect;
  • The programme of devolution of benefits following the recent launch of Carer Support Payment and the financial challenges that arise from policy change;
  • The importance of equality impact assessments in the scrutiny process and as a means of engaging stakeholders;
  • The process of joint-working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Discussion concluded with the Board thanking the Cabinet Secretary for attending the meeting and for the constructive and productive nature of discussion.  The Board and Cabinet Secretary agreed on the importance of maintaining on-going, regular dialogue.

The Board considered the approach to scrutiny of the forthcoming draft regulations on up-rating, particularly given the constrained timetable for scrutiny of the draft regulations, and agreed on a focussed, concise approach to scrutiny.  It was agreed that Dr Marilyn Howard would lead on the Board’s approach to scrutiny and reporting on the draft regulations.

The Board considered the approach to scrutiny of forthcoming draft regulations and agreed to invite Scottish Government officials to the December Board meeting to discuss the content of the forthcoming draft regulations.  The Board agreed that Dr Jackie Gulland would lead on the Board’s approach to scrutiny and reporting on the draft regulations.

The Board considered a draft response to the emergency regulations and agreed a letter as a retrospective scrutiny response.

The Board reflected on the scrutiny process for the Disability Assistance for Older People (Scotland) Regulations 2024.  In particular, the Board considered the effectiveness of the significant stakeholder engagement undertaken in scrutiny of the regulations.  The Board agreed to consider the development of a Stakeholder Engagement Strategy at a future Board meeting.

The Audit Adviser spoke to the content of the Annual Report and Accounts and noted that the Audit Sub-Committee agreed, at its November meeting, to recommend the draft annual report and accounts be approved by the Board.  The Audit Advisor also noted that the Accountable Officer stated, at the Audit Sub-Committee, that he was content to sign the draft annual report and accounts.

The Board agreed that the Annual Report and Accounts be approved and signed by the Accountable Officer, if he is content to do so.  The Board also agreed that the Annual Report and Accounts be published on the SCoSS website in due course.

The Board noted that, prior to publication, that the Annual Report and Accounts, once signed by the Accountable Officer, would require approval from the Audit General for Scotland ahead of laying the document in the Scottish Parliament.

The Audit Adviser noted that the Audit Sub-Committee considered the Risk Register and agreed to recommend to the Board that no change was required to the Risk Register.  The Audit Adviser also noted that the Audit Sub-Committee was meeting on 28 November, on an ad-hoc basis, to consider the budgetary position in relation to staff costs and the overall SCoSS financial position in 2023-24.

The Board agreed the risk register remain unchanged.

The Secretariat raised the topic of the renewal of the contract for the website.  The current website contract will expire at the end of March 2024. The next contract will be for a three-year period. The Board considered the options for procurement of a new contract. The Board agreed to renew the contract on a preferred bidder route to procurement.  It was agreed that the Board would consider the bid arising from this process at a future meeting.

Lastly, the Interim Co-Chair noted that this was the Governance and Engagement Officer, Dorothy Warren’s last Board meeting prior to retirement. The Board warmly thanked Dorothy for all her hard work and help during her time in SCoSS and expressed best wishes for her future retirement plans.

Meeting closed at – 16:18

Date of Next Meeting: Wednesday 20 December

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