Date: 28 September 2021
Time: 13:30 – 16:00
Venue: MS Teams


  • Dr Sally Witcher (Chair);
  • Judith Paterson (Member);
  • Dr Mark Simpson (Member).


  • Sharon McIntyre (from agenda item 3)

In Attendance:

  • Lorraine Cairns, SCoSS Lead Secretary
  • Fiona Lodge, SCoSS Deputy Secretary

In Attendance for agenda item 2:

  • Kelly Donohoe, Scottish Government Team Leader: Post Application process and International Strategy
  • Iain Hunter, Scottish Government Cross-cutting Policy Manager

In Attendance for agenda item 3:

  • Camilo Arredondo, Scottish Government Legal Department
  • Daniel Blaikie, Scottish Government Legal Department
  • Merlin Kemp, Scottish Government Scottish Child Payment Team Leader
  • Ruth Steele, Scottish Government Unit Head

The Chair welcomed the Members and Secretariat and extended a warm welcome to SCoSS’s new Lead Secretary Lorraine Cairns, as this was her first Board meeting.

There was one declaration of interest from Judith Paterson regarding a recent submission on the draft Adult Disability Payment regulations from the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland however Judith was not involved in the preparation of the submission sent to SCoSS.

Members discussed the regulations and considered the early questions sent to officials and other questions arising.

Kelly Donohoe and Iain Hunter joined the meeting and Iain gave an overview of the regulations. Iain responded to the early questions and to the questions Members raised at the meeting.

The Members highlighted that this area of assistance was unfamiliar to them and queried whether there were dependencies with reserved benefits.

Following officials’ departure, Members discussed stakeholder engagement and the Board agreed that it should be undertaken. The Board agreed that Sally and Sharon would lead on the main drafting of the report with Mark to consider any human rights implications and the deadline for laying the report would be mid-November.

With regards to the additional Adult Disability Payment draft regulations, the Board agreed that draft recommendations for these should be submitted to officials by 24 October.

  • Action – Officials to: suggest names for a contact in Scottish Government Legal Department that has immigration knowledge; suggest names for Programme colleagues we could speak to; supply PIP and DLA data to show how many people received benefits via settlement schemes; to check with Scottish Government Legal Department why Hansard wasn’t used as a permanent reference to the definition of the Afghan resettlement scheme; to check that all means tested benefits are reserved via UK SI 2021/1034 reg 2(2) and; to provide an update on local delivery/ local authority plans from Programme colleagues.
  • Action – Chair to write to the Minister setting out the timeline for scrutiny once agreed.
  • Action – Secretariat to issue call for views letter to stakeholders on Afghan regulations by Wednesday 6 October, with responses due by 20 October.
  • Action – Sally and Sharon to meet with SG Programme colleagues to discuss support, paperwork, training and how local delivery models will work.

Members considered the draft regulations and discussed questions to put to officials.

Camilo Arredondo, Daniel Blaikie, Merlin Kemp and Ruth Steele joined the meeting and Merlin gave Members an overview of the purpose and need for the draft regulations. Officials responded to the questions the Members asked them regarding competing claims for social security assistance and qualifying benefits. The Board agreed to provide draft recommendations to officials by 14 October with final report following in early November.
Following the departure of officials, Members discussed stakeholder engagement but agreed there was insufficient time to undertake any effectively.

  • Action – Officials to share the decision maker guidance on competing claims, the guidance in development that provides a list of circumstances of the child, the Keeling schedule and feedback from discussion with the stakeholder group for low income benefits.
  • Action – Officials to supply the ruling in the Moran case as soon as practicable.
  • Action – Regarding the Scottish Child Payment/Best Start Grant scrutiny report, Mark to draft the legal analysis and Sally to draft the section on wider issues.
  • Action – SCoSS to provide draft recommendations on the draft Scottish Child Payment/Best Start Grant regulations by 14 October.

Members discussed the draft report and considered the outstanding issues that required agreement. The Board signed off the report in principle with only minor edits required.

The Board thanked Judith for her extraordinary work on the Adult Disability Payment report.

Members discussed the handling of the draft suspension regulations report and whether a decision had been made with Scottish Government officials on any further amendments prior to publication of the scrutiny report.

  • Action – Secretariat to ask Scottish Government officials for an urgent update on a decision on possible amendments to the Suspension of Assistance draft regulations and the parliamentary timetable in order to decide when to submit the SCoSS scrutiny report.

Date: 29 September 2021
Time: 13:30 – 16:00
Venue: MS Teams


  • Dr Sally Witcher (Chair);
  • Sharon McIntyre (Member);
  • Dr Mark Simpson (Member).


  • Judith Paterson (from agenda item 4)

In Attendance:

  • Lorraine Cairns, SCoSS Lead Secretary
  • Fiona Lodge, SCoSS Deputy Secretary

The Chair welcomed the Board and Secretariat and gave a brief summary of the previous day.

The Board agreed the minutes of the previous meeting, subject to minor amendments.

  • Action – Secretariat to publish the minutes of the August meeting once updated.
    Lorraine gave an overview of the actions and Members discussed forthcoming agenda items and attendees for future Board meetings.
  • Action – Secretariat to contact private office to check Ministerial availability for attending the November or December Board meeting.

Members considered the recent work undertaken and the support available to them and agreed it had been a challenging period.

Members considered how improvements could be made to balance the scrutiny and corporate work and discussed SCoSS’s statutory responsibilities.

  • Action – Secretariat to approach the Sponsor Team for an options briefing on the types of public body SCoSS could be within the constraints of our statutory duties.

Secretariat to discuss with Committee Clerks if the committee will be requesting an evidence session for Child Winter Heating Assistance and seek to identify a date for chair to meet with Committee Convener.

Lorraine gave an overview on the paper on continuous improvement and Members considered topics to discuss at a future ad hoc session including updating the self-assessment process. The Board agreed to explore potential dates in October and November for the ad hoc session.

  • Action – Secretariat to identify some provisional dates in October and November for a 3 hour session for Members on continuous improvement (Sharon / Sally lead with Lorraine Supporting).
  • Action – Sharon to share ideas on the structure for the handling of the continuous improvement session and a structure for a Board self-assessment tool.
  • Action – Secretariat to issue the 2022 Board meeting dates to members for a response by the end of this week.

The Members considered the content and structure of the draft business plan and gave feedback on it. The Board agreed that it would be helpful to meet to the November deadline for completion.

  • Action – Secretariat to bring the Business plan final draft for sign off at the November Board meeting.

Members considered a response to the general ask for topics for consideration in the Covid Inquiry. The Board agreed that when SCoSS does respond, the Chair will share the suggested topics with the Chief Executive of Social Security Scotland.

Members discussed reformatting the Members update and the priority items for inclusion, secretariat agreed to review ways to make the update more user-friendly.

Date of the next board meeting: 2/3 November 2021

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