Date: 10 & 11 July 2019
- Dr Sally Witcher (Chair)
- Sharon McIntyre
- Judith Paterson
- Dr Mark Simpson
- Lorne Bourhill, Social Security Scotland, Social Security Communications and Media Manager (for agenda item 4)
- Nicole Fraser, SCoSS Administrative Officer
- Hannah Graham, Scottish Government Child Benefits and State Pension Policy Team Leader (for agenda item 10)
- Fiona Lodge, SCoSS Deputy Secretary (minutes)
- Matthew McMillan, Scottish Government Deputy Private Secretary (accompanying Ms Somerville)
- Terry Shevlin, SCoSS Lead Secretary
- Shirley Anne-Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People (for agenda item 2)
- Siobhan Toner, Scottish Government Cross-Cutting Policy Manager (accompanying Ms Somerville)
Declarations of interest – none.
The Chair welcomed the Cabinet Secretary to an introductory meeting with board members. Members stressed to the Cabinet Secretary that SCoSS is a body independent of both Scottish Government (SG) and the Scottish Parliament.
In response to requests from members, the Cabinet Secretary agreed on the importance of providing SCoSS, as timeously as possible, with proposed timelines for the development of benefits regulations.
- Action – Secretariat to obtain from SG officials confirmation of the timelines for regulations, including the degree of flexibility.
The Board discussed a draft Code of Conduct for SCoSS members and noted the need to ensure that public appointments processes accommodate equality and diversity. The Board agreed to sign off the Code subject to clarification. The Code itself does not appear to be available in alternative formats.
- Action – The Secretariat will raise the Board’s concerns with the Scottish Government’s Public Bodies Unit.
The Board noted an update from the Secretariat on other corporate documentation that must be produced by the Board and/or the Secretariat.
- Action – Secretariat to circulate the completed version of members’ Register of Interests along with equivalent organisations’ versions for comparison.
Action: Secretariat to clarify with the Scottish Government sponsor team whether SCoSS requires to establish a complaints handling procedure and a whistleblowing policy.
The group identified a preferred logo from the examples provided by Lorne Bourhill, and suggested alterations that could be made.
- Action – Secretariat to request that Lorne Bourhill provides revised logos that incorporate members’ comments.
Sally Witcher gave a presentation on the role and remit of SCoSS to the Charter Core Group. Sally shared SCoSS’s commitment to working alongside the Core Group and the Scottish Government in developing the Charter Measurement Framework, given SCoSS’s unique role in relation to the Charter. This was followed by a question and answer session with Core Group members.
Members considered the information and data that they would require in order to undertake their statutory role to report on the extent to which expectations in the Scottish Social Security Charter are being fulfilled. They considered the actions they would need to take to help inform the development of the Charter Measurement Framework accordingly.
- Action – Secretariat to ask the Scottish Government for an overview of work being undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of the Scottish Social Security system. This will include the timeline for the publication of the first statutory report on the charter.
- Action – Secretariat to develop a matrix of which measures/data sources could help determine whether Charter commitments are being met.
- Action – Secretariat to make contact with Leila Akhoundova/ Jonathan Wright, Scottish Government, to check who would be most appropriate to meet with to discuss statistics to measure the Charter.
- Action – Secretariat to ask Social Security Committee clerks whether the Committee will take evidence on Social Security Agency annual reports.
The format of the minutes template was agreed and previous minutes will be reworked to align. The minutes of the June Board meeting were approved subject to minor amendments.
Members discussed that it would be useful to include a weekly or fortnightly update from the Secretariat, such as announcements of policy developments or media coverage on areas within SCoSS’s remit.
The format for rolling action sheets was agreed and the status of actions from the previous meeting noted.
The September evidence session with the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee on the SCoSS’s Young Carer Grant report was discussed.
- Action – Secretariat to review the Scottish Parliament’s website to consider any questions that could be put to SCoSS members at the evidence session.
- Action – Secretariat to ask the Social Security Committee Clerk whether SCoSS can give an opening statement at the evidence session.
- Action – Secretariat to ask the Clerk whether SCoSS will be asked about uprating at the evidence session.
- Action – Secretariat to circulate the table of responses to the Young Carer Grant Scrutiny Report with secretariat analysis. Sally Witcher and Judith Paterson and other members to consider responses to each recommendation response.
Hannah Graham provided a briefing on the proposed Scottish Child Payment. Members stressed the importance of SCoSS being informed about timescales for developing the draft regulations. The Board also requested that impact assessments be provided by the Scottish Government alongside the draft regulations, or earlier if possible.
- Action – Secretariat to schedule future meetings with Scottish Government officials on the Scottish Child Payment, and to highlight members’ noted information requests, including relevant information on any stakeholder groups the Scottish Government is planning to liaise with in developing the draft regulations.
- Action – Secretariat to circulate to members the draft Best Start Grant regulations, as they have been used as the foundation for the draft Scottish Child Payment regulations.
The Secretariat gave a brief update to the group on the potential timescale for scrutinising and reporting on a Scottish Government analytical report on uprating (uprating applies to assistance made under sections within Part 2 Chapter 2 of the Social Security (Scotland) 2018 Act and that assistance falls within the scrutiny remit of SCoSS. The Cabinet Secretary has asked SCoSS to consider reporting on the separate analytical report).
Members expressed some concern about the possibly very tight timescales for reporting.
- Action – Secretariat to seek confirmation of whether the uprating report will be ready for the SCoSS Board meeting on 14 August.
Members require a work plan detailing potential timelines for the process of draft regulations.
- Action – Secretariat to produce a work plan as a matter of urgency.
Date of the next meeting: Wednesday 14 August 2019.