Date: 17 November 2022
Time: 13:30 – 17:00
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 8, 9 and 10—
- Graeme Hill, Audit Adviser, SCoSS
The Acting Co-Chair welcomed the Board and the new members of the Secretariat, Andrzej Hagger and Dorothy Warren.
No relevant interests were declared.
The Minutes of the October Board meeting were considered, some amendments made, and then agreed.
The Secretary provided an update on the progress of, and timescales for, the review of SCoSS being undertaken by Glen Shuraig consultancy.
The Board agreed to hold an informal briefing meeting with Glen Shuraig consultancy on Tuesday 6 December.
In attendance for this agenda item—
Simon Coote, Head of Cross-Cutting Policy, and Paul McCormack, Cross-Cutting Policy Officer, Social Security Directorate, Scottish Government.
The Board received an update from Scottish Government officials on the current position with the review and the process and timescale for the review. In addition, discussion centred on the requirement for the Scottish Government to consult with SCoSS and the form this may take as the review progresses.
The Board agreed that the Secretariat should meet with Scottish Government officials to discuss further the role of SCoSS in the Scottish Government review of the Social Security Charter. The Board also agreed to consider this issue at the next meeting of the Board.
The SCoSS Head of Policy and Scrutiny provided an update to the Board and, in particular, noted that the regulations were likely to start being considered by the Board in the first half of 2023.
In attendance for this agenda item—
Ruari Sutherland, Social Security Team Leader, Simon Coote, Head of Cross-Cutting Policy, Social Security Directorate, Scottish Government and Kirsten Sweeney, Strategic Communications and Marketing Lead, Social Security Scotland.
The Board received an update from officials on the Scottish Government’s benefit take-up strategy and had a wide-ranging discussion with officials on approaches to improving the uptake of devolved benefits and also the interaction with reserved benefits. Discussion also considered local and neighbourhood initiatives to increase benefit uptake.
The Board asked the officials present to provide more information on a pilot project in Dundee which seeks to improve benefit uptake.
The Board noted that the Secretariat had recently received the Scottish Government response to the SCoSS report on Low Income Winter Heating Assistance / Winter Heating Payment draft regulations.
The Board agreed to consider the Scottish Government response at the next Board meeting.
The Board also agreed that the Secretariat should contact the clerks to the Social Justice and Social Security Committee with regard to their scrutiny plans for the Winter Heating Payment regulations.
The Board considered the approach to scrutiny of the 2023-24 uprating of benefits report and forthcoming Scottish Carer’s Assistance draft regulations.
The Board agreed to consider further the approach to scrutiny of the 2023-24 uprating of benefits at the next Board meeting.
The Board agreed that Judith Paterson would lead the SCoSS scrutiny of the Scottish Carer’s Assistance draft regulations.
The SCoSS audit adviser provided an update on the SCoSS 2022-23 budgetary position. The Board noted the update.
The SCoSS Audit Adviser provided an update on the external audit of SCoSS 2021-22 annual report and accounts being undertaken by Audit Scotland. The Board noted the update provided by the Audit Adviser. The Board agreed to provisional dates for a meeting of the SCoSS Audit sub-committee.
The SCoSS Audit Adviser provided an update on his current review of the SCoSS risk register. The Board agreed that the Audit sub-committee should consider a revised risk register at it’s next meeting and subsequently the Board would consider the revised risk register.
The Secretary stated that the board recruitment process is currently underway and it was not therefore possible to comment on aspect of the process with the exception of the timetable for the recruitment process. In this regard, the Secretary stated that it was anticipated that interviews would be complete by the end of November 2022 with the selection panel expected to make recommendations to the Minister in December.
The Board agreed the following dates for future Board meetings—
- Thursday 26 January;
- Thursday 23 February;
- Thursday 30 March; and
- Wednesday 31 May.
The Board discussed recent correspondence from the Minister for Social Security and Local Government regarding the publication of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 Progress Report 2021-2022.
The Board also discussed the SCoSS website and how to improve awareness and accessibility of the website. The Board agreed that the Secretariat should consider ways to improve awareness and accessibility of the website and report back to the Board in due course.
Meeting closed at 17:00.