Children's Hearings Advocacy Expert Reference Group minutes: January 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 22 January 2020.

Items and actions

Items and actions

This note provides an overview of the discussion and key action points from the meeting of the Children Hearings System: Expert Reference Group (ERG).

The meeting took place in the Prince’s Trust Offices in Glasgow on 22 January 2020. 

Welcome and actions from previous meeting

The actions from the previous meeting were shared with the group, agreed and progress was discussed.


  • Scottish Government to keep the ERG actions grid updated

Expressions of interest – grant funding

Scottish Government provided an update on what is happening with the expressions of interest exercise.  

We have been communicating with applicant organisations about the delays since November 2019. All the deliberations have concluded and recommendations have been made.  

The progression of plans have been hampered by the calling of the General Election on 12 December 2019, leading to the withdrawal of the planned UK 2020 Budget and uncertainty about its timing, and of the Scottish Government Budget timetabling.  

The agreement (and passage of the Budget Bill through the Scottish Parliament) affects this scheme, especially as it’s so important to maintain a commitment to offering successful providers multi-year grant arrangements to promote stability and certainty in the new capacity. We cannot, therefore make any announcements or notify organisations of the outcomes of the expression of interest exercise until the conclusion of the Scottish Budget process – this is expected to conclude in early March.  

The Scottish Government discussed options for a revised timelines with the Expert Reference Group. We are also acutely aware that recruitment processes have to be put in place and that cannot begin until Scottish Government confirm details. Members advised that a period of thee months would be necessary for recruitment processes to be carried out.  


  • Scottish Government and Ministers need to develop a revised timeline for introducing the regulations 

Sub-groups update

Communications and engagement

Scottish Government provided feedback from Communications and Engagement sub-group meeting in December 2019. The Communications and Engagement Strategy Paper was shared with the group for consideration.


  • members were invited to review the Communications and Engagement Strategy and update it with publicity and engagement activity at organisational level

Impact assessments    

Scottish Government provided an update on the development of Impact Assessments for the children’s advocacy in the Children’s Hearings System policy. Draft copies were shared with the group including: 

  • Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA)
  • Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) and 
  • Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)  

Our assessment was that a Business Regulator Impact Assessment (BRIA) was not required. This requires Ministerial approval.


  • members were invited to provide feedback on the draft versions of the Impact Assessments. The final documents will be cleared by Ministers and published on the Scottish Government’s website before the regulations are introduced to parliament

Any other business

Reporting and monitoring  

The group discussed benchmarking against exiting provision. Also providing a template for reporting and monitoring to allow for consistency when providers and Scottish Government are analysing information on the service. Scottish Government has no desire to turn this into a bureaucratic machine which takes away from advocacy time. We are looking to complement existing processes organisations have for collecting evidence about their service, which will allow us to baseline and provide evidence to Ministers for future funding.


  • Scottish Government to provide a draft template, based on the information in the Expressions of Interest and circulate to members (particularly those representing service providers) for input

Date of next meeting 

Next meeting is planned for 18 March in Edinburgh. Item for next meeting will include Children’s Hearings Scotland led discussion on how children's advocacy will be applied in the hearings proceedings and the information and training needs for panel members.  

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