SCoSS Board Meeting
Date: 14 December 2022
Time: 13:30 – 16:35
Venue: MS Teams
- Dr Mark Simpson (Acting Co-Chair)
- Judith Paterson (Acting Co-Chair)
- Marilyn Howard (Member)
In Attendance (SCoSS Secretariat)—
- Stephen Herbert, Secretary
- Andrew Strong, Head of Policy and Scrutiny
- Andrzej Hagger, Analysis and Participation Officer
- Christopher Galloway, SCoSS Analysis and Participation Support Officer;
- Dorothy Warren, Governance and Engagement Lead Officer;
- Lisa Kinnear, SCoSS Administrative Assistant
In attendance for Agenda Items 1 to 5—
- Graeme Hill, Audit Adviser, SCoSS
In attendance for Agenda Item 6
- Andrew Latto, Deputy Director, Devolution, Pensioner Benefits & Carers Allowance, Department for Work and Pensions, UK Government
- Ellen Searle, Team Leader, Live Benefits, Join Up & Future Changes, Social Security Policy Division, Scottish Government
1. Welcome and declarations of interest
The Acting Co-Chair, Judith Paterson, welcomed the Board to the meeting.
No relevant interests were declared.
2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting
The Minutes of the November Board meeting were agreed. It was noted that the Secretariat were continuing to seek information regarding pilot projects in Dundee that were discussed at the November meeting.
3. SCoSS Annual Report and Accounts 2021-22
The Audit adviser spoke to the content of the draft annual report and accounts. The Board noted that the Audit Sub-Committee had recommended that the draft annual report and accounts be approved. It was also noted that the Accountable Officer had stated, at the Audit Sub-Committee, that he was content to sign the draft annual report and accounts.
The Board agreed to approve the draft annual report and accounts. The Board also thanked Audit Scotland and the Accountable Officer for their work.
4. Risk Register
The Audit Adviser outlined the approach he had taken in revising the risk register. The Board noted that the Audit Sub-Committee had previously considered the revised risk register and recommended that the revised register be adopted by the Board. The Board also noted that the Audit Sub-Committee had recommended that an additional risk relating to the loss of key Secretariat staff be added to the register.
The Board agreed that the revised risk register be adopted. The Board also agreed to the addition of a risk, relating to the loss of key Secretariat staff, be added to the revised risk register.
The Board agreed that the risk register should be considered by the Audit Sub-Committee and revised as necessary on a quarterly basis prior to consideration by the Board.
5. Budget Allocation 2022-23
The Board considered a budget allocation letter from the Scottish Government for 2022-23.
The Board agreed to the budget allocation as detailed in the letter from the Scottish Government.
6. Carer’s Allowance / Scottish Carer’s Assistance
The Board discussed the historical development of Carer’s Allowance and the on-going work between the Department for Work and Pensions and the Scottish Government in preparation for Scottish Carer’s Assistance with the officials attending the meeting from the Department for Work and Pensions and the Scottish Government.
Ellen Searle agreed to provide a range of statistical information to the Board following on from the preceding discussion.
7. Winter Heating Payments
The Board discussed the recent scrutiny by SCoSS of the draft Winter Heating Assistance (Low Income) (Scotland) Regulations 2022 and the lessons learned from the scrutiny. In particular, the Board noted the importance of receiving impact assessments as early as possible in order to inform SCoSS scrutiny of draft regulations. The provision of an Executive Summary to the scrutiny report was also considered to be a positive addition to the report and should be incorporated in future reports.
Mark Simpson also provided feedback to the Board on the Social Justice and Social Security Committee evidence session on 8 December where he gave evidence on the Winter Heating Assistance (Low Income) (Scotland) Regulations 2023.
8. Scottish Government Charter Review
The Board had a discussion regarding how SCoSS could best engage with the Scottish Government review of the Social Security Charter following on from discussion with Scottish Government officials at the November Board meeting. The Board agreed that the Secretariat should engage in discussion with Scottish Government officials with regard to SCoSS input into the review. The Board also agreed to provide, in writing, to the Secretariat any further suggestions with regard to SCoSS input into the review.
9. Uprating of benefits
The Board considered the approach to, and timetable for, scrutiny of the forthcoming report from the Scottish Government on uprating of benefits. The Board agreed to hold ad hoc Board meeting(s), in advance of the January Board meeting, in order to ensure effective scrutiny of the report.
10. Consideration of December meeting and any other business
The Board considered the content of discussion on Carer’s Allowance / Scottish Carer’s Assistance. The Board agreed to hear from officials from the Social Security Programme and also officials dealing with ‘case-transfer’ at a future meeting of the Board as part of the Board’s preparation for scrutiny of draft Scottish Carer’s Assistance Regulations in due course.