Publication - Minutes

Agency Operations Reference Group minutes: March 2018

Published: 22 May 2018
Date of meeting: 7 Mar 2018
Date of next meeting: 20 Jun 2018
Location: Unit 9 Ladywell, Glasgow

Minutes of the meeting of the Agency Operations Reference Group held on 7 March 2018.

22 May 2018
Agency Operations Reference Group minutes: March 2018

Attendees and apologies


  • Kate Burton, NHS Scotland
  • Miriam Craven, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Cathy Macphail, DWP
  • Robert McGregor, COSLA
  • Kirsty McKechnie, CPAG
  • Michael McMahon, Disability Agenda Scotland
  • Andrew Montgomery, MacMillan
  • Elaine Paterson, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Julie Podet, Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Roddy Samson, NHS Scotland
  • Bill Scott, Inclusion Scotland
  • Jamie Sinclair, Building Connections
  • Andrew Strong, The ALLIANCE
  • Robert White, ILF Scotland

In attendance

  • Matt Creaney, Scottish Government
  • Jane Goodier, Scottish Government
  • Tracy McIntyre, Scottish Government (presenter)
  • Rachael McKechnie, Scottish Government


  • David Coyne, Skills Development Scotland
  • John Downie, SCVO
  • Sarah Hammond, Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Ian Pope, PCS Scotland
  • Harvey Tilley, ILF Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair thanked everyone for attending. It was noted that the minutes from the last meeting were agreed and all actions cleared.

Members were thanked for their contribution to the meetings The outcomes of which are influencing the approach the Agency takes. For example, December’s discussion on recruitment re-enforced the need to seek feedback on the job adverts being developed. As a result, a number of stakeholders have been involved in commenting on drafted adverts. This is helping make sure they are appealable, understandable and will attract a wide range of candidates.

Update on Social Security

The Chair updated members on the work of the Social Security Directorate. It was explained that, following the completion of Stage 2 of the Social Security (Scotland) Bill, work is being progressed for Stage 3 and the impact that the proposed amendments may bring on policy and processes is being considered. Completion of the Bill is on track to be completed by June 2018.

The progress being made in establishing the Agency was highlighted, noting that the Agency Implementation Senior Management Team had met with the Minister for Social Security on what was the first of a series of regular meetings. During the discussion the work of the Group was noted, with the Minister expressing her appreciation to members for their input and the results this is producing in helping influence areas such as recruitment and the physical environment of the Agency’s buildings.

An update on the recruitment plans for the Agency was provided. The first phase of which is due to be launched shortly and will focus on recruitment for the Dundee office. A micro-site is being developed to advertise vacancies. Additionally, help and support with applications will be available on-line and over the phone. Members will be advised once job vacancies are live and are asked if they could share the adverts with their partner organisations and interested parties to allow them to be promoted as widely as possible.

It was noted that while local delivery services won’t be available for the first wave of benefits engagement is continuing with relevant stakeholders in preparation of its launch. This includes planning further meetings with local authorities and attendance at the Chief Officers of Citizens Advice Bureaus and Community Planning Managers meetings, to help raise awareness of the Agency.

Review of terms of reference

The Group’s Term of Reference was circulated prior to the meeting and amendments requested. One amendment was suggested asking that members highlight the work of the Group and its messages to their wider networks. This new amendment was agreed. No other changes were requested.

Update on operational delivery

Tracy McIntyre, Head of Operations for the Social Security Agency Implementation team, informed members of the progress being made in establishing the operational arm of the Agency. Tracy explained her team is responsible for designing and implementing the Agency’s operational delivery polices, systems and processes across the Glasgow and Dundee sites. These will be responsible for the end to end processing inclusive of telephony, data processing, decision making and pre-claim support. Throughout this work the aim is to ensure the safe and secure transfer of benefits and make sure a consistency of service is delivered across both central and local offerings. Emphasis is also placed on involving people when designing services. This is being achieved through User Research, engaging with the Experience Panels and working closely with the wider Programme and Policy teams in the Scottish Government to make sure the needs of the Agency are incorporated.

It was explained that the first wave of benefits will be delivered from the Agency’s headquarters in Dundee with future opportunities available in Glasgow and across all of Scotland, once the local delivery services are rolled out. This will present opportunities at a variety of levels. The aim is to have a workforce reflective of society therefore emphasis is being placed on recruiting people with the right attitude and training focusing on developing the right skills. In doing so some educational qualifications are being removed as requirements for certain posts and different approaches are being adopted such as recruiting interns and establishing activity agreements through employability. This will help create an environment that weaves human rights through-out its service and deliver a helpful service to people accessing it.

One area the team is exploring is making sure that from the first day of delivery the telephone service meets the needs of its clients. To help ensure this members were asked for their input on the level of service required from the telephony system and what they consider as potential barriers to providing an effective service.

Following an informative discussion members identified a number of areas to consider. Main themes emerging included making sure the number is communicated widely, such as displaying it on all materials and pages of the website. Having a short memorable number, such as the NHS’ 111, would also be useful. Offering call backs and different options in how to contact the Agency is key, such as the use of Connect Scotland’s Skype based BSL service . Clear referral processes should also be in place so people don’t have to repeat their enquiry. Overall it is important to adapt services to what is needed and not what’s convenient.

The full outcomes of the discussion are held at Annex A.

Sharing experiences of co-location

Jamie Sinclair, Building Connections Programme Manager, hosted a workshop session on “What works” when co-locating services. Jamie advised the aim of the session is to draw on member’s collective experience in co-locating services to help identify the factors that underpin success and how these can be applied to the Agency. The lessons learned will help inform the Agency's approach to delivering co-located services.

The main points emerging from the discussion was around the importance of trust being built between the co-located organisations, along with them sharing similar values and delivering services to shared client groups. The skills and abilities of front line staff and their relationship with host organisations are also key. A note of the full elements member’s highlighted as underpinning success for co-location of services is held at Annex B.

Jamie also asked members to share what they view as the most important issue for the Agency to consider when developing its co-located service delivery model. These messages are held at Annex C.

Next steps

Kate Burton, from NHS Scotland, offered to run a session based on learning from the health service on social welfare literacy and the use of words and language at the next meeting.

A future workplan for the Group will be considered to identify areas where members’ expertise and input will be of value. This will be circulated once available.

It was also suggested and agreed that the Group could help comment on written policy and procedures for the Agency.

Inclusion Scotland agreed to host the next meeting at their premises at Hayweight House, Edinburgh. This will be held on Wednesday 20 June 2018.


  1. All Reference Group members asked to circulate details of the job opportunities in the Agency through their wider networks to help raise awareness and promote opportunities to interested parties.
  2. Scottish Government to review possible areas for future sessions and circulate to members.