Date: 13 October 2022
Time: 13:30 – 17:00
Venue: MS Teams
- Judith Paterson (Member and Acting Co-Chair);
- Dr Mark Simpson (Member and Acting Co-Chair);
- Marilyn Howard (Member)
- Alasdair Black, Head of Social Security Strategy and Unit Head, Scottish Government;
- Andrew Strong, SCoSS Head of Policy and Scrutiny;
- Christopher Galloway, SCoSS Analysis and Participation Support Officer;
- Lisa Kinnear, SCoSS Service Support Administrator.
Judith welcomed the Board and Secretariat to the meeting in her capacity of Chair for the Board meeting. The Chair extended a warm welcome to Marilyn Howard as it was her first Board meeting as a Board member of SCoSS, as well as Alasdair Black who was attending his first meeting in his capacity of Unit Head.
There were no relevant interests declared.
Members gave feedback on the draft minutes of the Board meeting of 4 August. Feedback was also provided on draft minutes of the Board meeting of March 2022 due to a delay in publishing these on the SCoSS website.
Suggestions included making these minutes as clear and accessible as possible for public viewing and to ensure only relevant action points are included.
Members discussed the Scottish Government’s response to SCoSS’s scrutiny report on the Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendment and Transitional Provision) (Scotland) Regulations 2022.
There was agreement that SCoSS’s scrutiny report and accepted recommendations added significant, positive change to the regulations.
Members discussed take-up rates to ensure those who are entitled to claim Scottish Child Payment and Best Start Grant are doing so as well as concerns around claimants who may lose entitlement depending on their month-to-month entitlement of Universal Credit.
It was agreed that Scottish Government officials working on take-up of benefits should be invited to a future board meeting to discuss work being done to ensure take-up is maximised.
- Action: Secretariat to invite Scottish Government officials to future board meeting to discuss benefit take-up
The Board discussed the Up-rating Regulations 2023 and Scottish Carer’s Assistance Regulations as well as the expected timescales for referral of these regulations to SCoSS for scrutiny.
It was noted that there will be significant public interest on up-rating of benefits over the coming months due to current inflation levels and concerns around cost of living. There was agreement over the questions to be asked in respect of the upcoming stakeholder engagement exercise regarding up-rating, as well as a decision to invite Up-rating officials to a future Board meeting when the referral has been received from the Scottish Government to discuss in more detail. Marilyn and Andrew agreed to lead on the Up-rating report with support from Mark.
Members also discussed the upcoming Scottish Carer’s Assistance Regulations, noting the importance of the analysis of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Carer’s Assistance consultation which closed in May 2022, as well as further research papers which may add value to the scrutiny process. There was discussion around the potential areas of focus for external stakeholder engagement and that disability organisations should be included within the list of stakeholders. It was noted that it would be beneficial to invite colleagues from DWP and the Scottish Government to discuss the subject in more detail at a later Board meeting.
- Action: Uprating stakeholder engagement and questions agreed. Secretariat to work up and bring back to the Board.
- Action: Secretariat to add disability bodies to stakeholder engagement plans.
- Action: Secretariat to feedback to the Board further research reports on carer benefits (including overpayments) for next meeting.
- Action: Secretariat to feedback to the Board the outcome of Scottish Carer’s Assistance consultation.
Attendees discussed a provisional timeline for forthcoming Adult Disability Payment / Child Disability Payment Regulations. The Secretariat will update the Board further when more information has been received.
The Board discussed the functions and roles of the Audit sub-committee. It was agreed that Mark and Judith would form the SCoSS Audit sub-committee as members. An Audit sub-committee meeting will be set up for November, initially to discuss SCoSS’s 2021-22 Annual Report and Accounts and will be held on a quarterly basis thereafter.
- Action: Audit sub-committee to be arranged for November with Mark and Judith to be invited as new members
There was discussion around the paper setting out the charter research work. Members talked through the approach to this work, the research resource required and what was realistic within the allocated budget for undertaking this work, as well as finalising what the final research questions will be.
It was agreed that Andrew and Mark would meet to discuss the next steps in the process.
- Action: Secretariat to access Procurement Scotland rules and frame charter tender around these.
Members discussed building capacity in SCoSS, noting areas in which SCoSS could be stronger, looking to identify skills which SCoSS currently has, any gaps which remain and how these could be addressed effectively. This included discussion around the creation of new sub-committees and involving stakeholders with lived experience once additional Board members have been appointed and are in place.
It was agreed that Andrew and Stephen would work with Marilyn to arrange a session to plan for ongoing capacity building.
- Action: Secretariat to outline upcoming strategic areas of work over the coming years for capacity building purposes
Andrew provided an update on recruitment to advise on the forthcoming arrival of two new members of the SCoSS Secretariat as well as discussing relevant induction materials that would be useful to members of the Secretariat to support new starts to familiarise themselves with their roles and the functions of SCoSS.
The Board requested an update on the review of SCoSS being undertaken by Glen Shuraig Consulting at the next Board meeting.
It was agreed that in the current arrangement of co-chairing SCoSS Board meetings, Mark would chair the next Board meeting in November.
Next scheduled board meeting: 17 November 2022