Social Renewal Advisory Board


On 9 June 2020, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government and the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People announced the creation of a Social Renewal Advisory Board. 

During the response to the COVID-19 pandemic there was a significant amount of work undertaken to support people and communities which was delivered at pace and challenged traditional ways of working, cultures and mind sets.

The Board’s aim was to build on the shifts in policy and practice that took place as a result of working across portfolios and in partnership with frontline service deliverers in local government, the third sector and communities. It was tasked with considering how we could emerge from the pandemic whilst ensuring reducing poverty and disadvantage, embedding a human-rights based approach and advancing equality was at the heart. 

Board Members include experts in housing, disability, poverty, homelessness and the third sector. In recognition of the role that local government plays in delivering services crucial to communities, both COSLA and SOLACE have representatives on the Board. 

A detailed programme of engagement to bring in the voices of lived experience sat alongside the work of the Board. 

Policy circles

The Board scrutinised and brought together the work of a series of ‘policy circles’ - specific groups working on a series of key policy issues. - that were each be tasked with working at pace on recommendations and solutions. 

The circles focussed on: age and disability, addressing low income, community-led and place based renewal, cross-cutting delivery, financial security, food, the housing system, third sector and volunteering.

Final report

The final, independent, report titled ‘If Not Now, When?’ was published on the 21 January 2021. It contains 20 ‘calls to action’: structured around three themes:

  • Money and Work – everyone should have a basic level of income from employment and social security
  • People, Rights and Advancing Equality – everyone should see their rights realised and have access to a range of basic rights, goods and services
  • Communities and Collective Endeavour – we believe that we need to work together to deliver a fairer society and we need to give more power to people and communities and empower frontline teams

Read the full report

All of the reports of the Policy Circles and the full outputs from the lived experience and engagement work are also available to view in the ‘Supporting Files’ section of the main page of the report. 

The Cabinet Secretaries and COSLA took a step back during the editing process in order to create the space needed to ensure that the final report is truly independent and reflective of the opinion and views of civic Scotland. Subsequently, an official Government response will now follow the report in due course.


Members were invited on the basis of their own personal contributions to Scottish life and are not representative of their organisations (with the exception of representatives from COSLA and SOLACE).

  • Angela O’Hagan, Reader in Equalities and Public Policy and Deputy Director of the Wise Centre for Economic Justice at GCU; Chair of the Scottish Government Equalities Budget Advisory Group
  • Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive of Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
  • Bill Scott , Senior Policy Advisor at Inclusion Scotland and Chair of the Poverty and Inequality Commission
  • Eileen Cawley, Administrator/Development Officer at the Scottish Pensioners Forum and Member of the Scottish Government Cross Party Group on Older People, Age and Ageing, the Cross Party Group on Funerals and Bereavement and the Older People’s Strategic Action Forum
  • Emma Ritch, Executive Director of Engender and member of the First Minister’s Advisory Council on Women and Girls
  • Etienne D’Aboville, Chief Executive of the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living and member of the Scottish Government’s Disability and Carers’ Benefits Expert Advisory Group
  • Jim McCormick, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Chair of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission
  • Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis and a member of Scottish Government’s Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group. Also a member of the UK Government’s Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel, and previously Chair of both the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group and the Welsh Government’s Homelessness Action Group
  • Leigh Sparks, Deputy Principal and Professor of Retail Studies at University of Stirling, Chair of Scotland's Towns Partnership
  • Lindsay Graham, Member of the Poverty and Inequality Commission and member of the Scotland Committee of National Lottery
  • Lisa Maclean, Chief Executive of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn
  • Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot and Co-Chair of the First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls
  • Maureen Sier, Director of Interfaith Scotland and trustee of the Interfaith Network for the UK (IFN)
  • Neil McInroy, Chief Executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies
  • Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council
  •  Sally Thomas, Chief Executive Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, member of the Homelessness Prevention Strategy Group and the Scotland’s Climate Assembly 
  • Satwat Rehman, Director of One Parent Families Scotland and member of the First Minister’s Advisory Council on Women and Girls
  • Susan McPhee, Formerly of Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Tressa Burke, Chief Executive Officer of Glasgow Disability Alliance, Depute Chair of Ministerial Expert Group -  Disability and Carers’ Benefits Expert Advisory Group and member of the SG Local Governance Enabling Group
  • Cllr Alison Evison, President, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
  • Fiona Lees, Chief Executive of East Ayrshire Council and representing Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)