Date: 4 August 2022
Time: 13:30 – 17:15
Venue: MS Teams
- Dr Sally Witcher (Chair)
- Sharon McIntyre (Member)
- Judith Paterson (Member)
- Dr Mark Simpson (Member)
- Steve Martin, SCoSS Acting Lead Secretary
- Andrew Strong, SCoSS Head of Policy and Scrutiny Support
- Alan Henderson, SCoSS Analysis and Participation Officer (Acting)
- Christopher Galloway, SCoSS Analysis and Participation Support Officer
- Lisa Kinnear, SCoSS Administrative Assistant
In Attendance for agenda items 6, 7 and 8:
- Graeme Hill, SCoSS Audit Adviser
In Attendance for agenda items 7 and 8:
- Ian Davidson, Scottish Government Deputy Director of Social Security Policy
The Board noted that this was the final Board meeting both Sally Witcher and Sharon McIntyre would be attending. The Chair expressed her gratitude to the Board and members of the Secretariat and acknowledged the positive work undertaken by both the Board and Secretariat.
Both the Chair and Sharon expressed their desire to support and contribute fully to SCoSS up until their departure dates and wished SCoSS every success going forward.
The Chair also wished to acknowledge the contributions of Secretariat members Fiona Lodge and Alan Henderson who recently left their roles at SCoSS.
There were no relevant interests declared.
Regulations were referred for scrutiny on 7 June 2022. Members discussed the draft report, the proposed draft recommendations and observations and agreed next steps to complete the report.
Board members agreed that SCoSS needs to receive completed impact assessments in advance of its formal scrutiny work to fully understand how policy has been formed as well as which gaps in policy may remain. It was noted that these are fundamental to scrutiny process and that SCoSS should make this a recommendation within the report itself.
- Action: Comment required in the report to highlight that Impact Assessments have not been received from Scottish Government. Request to Scottish Government officials that these are received before the ad hoc meeting.
- Action: Secretariat to arrange an ad hoc Board meeting in the week of 22nd August prior to the final draft being completed.
Members discussed progress on the draft report scrutinising the regulations laid in March 2022. The Board reiterated the necessity of completed Impact Assessments to inform policy development and the scrutiny process.
There were queries raised around the number of Ukrainians who have arrived in Scotland to compare these against the number of visas issued to date, as well as questions around the status of the Super Sponsor Scheme. It was agreed the Secretariat would follow up on these points.
Draft recommendations and observations were discussed and next steps agreed.
- Action: Secretariat to clarify the point made in the report on how many Ukrainians have arrived in Scotland compared to visas issued.
- Action: Secretariat to follow up questions regarding the pausing of the super-sponsor scheme, including on any delivery issues to be asked of Social Security Scotland.
It was noted that due to limited capacity in the Secretariat including staff departures and ongoing recruitment work, ongoing work on the Charter had not been progressed as anticipated but that the Secretariat would be meeting with social security researchers within the next week to progress this work. There was reassurance that there remained provision within the SCoSS budget to carry out this work.
It was agreed that the Secretariat would meet with researchers and subsequently meet with Board members at an hoc meeting to advise what was discussed with researchers and provide a further update on the Charter.
- Action: Secretariat to meet in the week of 8th August with analysts and update Sharon and Mark thereafter and give a further update at the ad hoc Board meeting to be held in the week of 22nd August.
There was agreement that the SCoSS work plan needed to be revised to accommodate future planning such as any committee appearances, more substantive updates on Charter work as well as the independent review of SCoSS. Members’ projected hours estimated in the workplan should be checked for accuracy. It was agreed that the Secretariat would send a copy of the work plan to the Chair when the necessary edits have been completed.
- Action: The Chair will liaise with the Secretariat on a more detailed work plan and forward plan for Board and Audit Committee agendas.
Ian Davidson joined the meeting to provide an update on the SCoSS review and stabilisation plan. An update was provided on Board appointments as well as the transition from Steve as Lead Secretary to his successor.
It was noted that the review of SCOSS is out to tender and is expected to take approximately three months, with the result of this being available towards the end of 2022.
There was discussion around the subject of the number of hours future Board members would be expected to work upon joining SCoSS, with the aim of recruiting suitable candidates within a wide field.
It was noted that there is scope for the Secretariat to upskill with relation to knowledge of social security to support the Board. There was discussion around creating additional sub-committees for the Board in future in a broader environment in which SCoSS will operate.
- Action: Judith and Mark will arrange acting Chair responsibilities after Sally’s departure.
Action: Secretariat to re-schedule the September Board meeting and consider the dates for subsequent meetings to accommodate Judith’s availability.
In light of the Chair’s departure, it was noted that both Judith and Mark would temporarily be undertaking co-chairing responsibilities of the SCoSS Board until such time as replacement members and a new Chair are appointed. An update was provided on a prospective, temporary Board member along with the process required to complete this appointment, including completing a business case and undertaking appropriate due diligence for the member, which the Secretariat would conduct and report to the Board before confirming with Public Appointments. Judith and Mark agreed to meet to discuss the potential appointment.
The SCoSS 2022-23 Business Plan was discussed and comments invited by Members. Sally advised she would complete the foreword for the Plan. Once finalised with minor changes, Secretariat will publish the Plan on the SCoSS website.
- Action: Sally to draft foreword for business plan and share with members when complete.
Graeme stated that he was content with the timescale for SCoSS to submit its 2021-22 Annual Report and Accounts and that the draft version can go to him for review and additional comments with the aim that these are finalised by the next Audit Committee meeting. Once agreed, these will be submitted to Audit Scotland. It was noted that this Audit Committee meeting should be arranged to agree the final version prior to SCoSS’s November Board meeting which the Secretariat will arrange.
It was noted that SCoSS’s budget for the 2022-23 financial year was still to be set. It was agreed that Stephen, with support from the Secretariat, would complete a full financial forecast for the current financial year and submit this to Ian Davidson to confirm the SCoSS budget.
There was consensus that the SCoSS risk register contained areas which were outdated with new risks needing to be added and that a full review would be appropriate. It was noted that the risk register is a key area of governance and should be kept fully updated and relevant. Graeme agreed to review the register in full to see how this can be improved. It was also noted that a session on risk management could be beneficial for future maintenance of the register.
- Action: Annual report and accounts to be submitted to Audit Scotland to be circulated at the beginning of September for approval by email correspondence.
- Action: Full review of the SCoSS risk register to be undertaken.
- Action: Once the new Board is in place, it may wish to consider having a session on risk management, led by the Audit Adviser.
- Action: Prior to the November Board meeting SCoSS will be required to hold an audit committee to review the report from Audit Scotland and advise the Board accordingly. This is required to be added to the work plan and the Audit Adviser to advise upon work required for this.
Members gave feedback on the draft minutes of the meeting of 1 June, the rolling actions sheet and the work plan paper. Sally noted that it was important to ensure all SCoSS’s website publications are published in HTML formats alongside PDF format to ensure reader accessibility.
- Action: Sally requested that, as a minimum accessibility measure, all formal SCoSS public-facing documentation on our web-site be compiled in HTML format along with PDF form for ease of reading.
Next scheduled board meeting: 13 October 2022