Communications and Engagement Partnership Group minutes: January 2018

Minutes of the Social Security Communications and Engagement Partnership Group meeting held on 25 January 2018.

Attendees and apologies


  • Evie McLaren (EMcL), Scottish Government (SG) (Chair)
  • Kirsten Sweeney (KS), Scottish Government
  • Jo-anne Lawson (JL)¸ Scottish Government
  • Robert McGregor (RMcG), COSLA
  • Euan MacKay (EMac), NHS Health Scotland
  • Marion Davis (MD), One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS)
  • Peter Kelly (PK), Poverty Alliance
  • Kirsty McKechnie (KMcK), CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group)
  • Sheghley Ogilvie (SO), SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations)
  • Kirsten Walker (KW), SFHA ( Scottish Federation of Housing Associations)
  • Hazel Mollison (HM), Age Scotland
  • Colin Lee (CL), CEMVO (Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations)
  • Helen McCabe (HMcC), CEMVO
  • Michael McMahon (MMcM), Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS)
  • Bill Scott (BS), Inclusion Scotland
  • Rhona Willder (RW), Inclusion Scotland
  • Claire Cairns (CC), Coalition of Carers
  • Lucy Mulvagh (LM), The Alliance

In attendance

  • Jacqueline Brown (JB), Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Chris Ash (CA), Scottish Government
  • Catherine Henry (CH), Scottish Government
  • Helen Tomison (HT), Scottish Government


  • Suzanne Munday (SM), MECOPP
  • Polly Tolley (PT), CAS
  • Emma Trottier (ET), Engender

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

1. EMcL opened the meeting, and welcomed all representatives to the second meeting of the Group, acknowledging a change in membership for some organisations.

2. A particular welcome to new organisations; Inclusion Scotland, DAS and Coalition of Carers, which was a result of previous discussion to ensure we had as cross representation as possible.

3. EMcL noted that we expect the Group will continue to evolve over time and thanked members for their support.

AP1 – JB to share details of current social security stakeholder reference / advisory groups.

Minutes from last meeting and action log

4. No comments or corrections to minutes of 7th Nov 2017. The following updates were discussed:

AP2 - 7/11 – Workshop 1; Hearts and Minds – Benefit Take Up – next steps are currently being discussed with SG marketing team. AP2 - 7/11 – Workshop 2; Seldom Heard Groups – Provisional date of 6th March. AP3 and 4; 7/11 – A platform to share a ‘Forward planner’ has been explored and it was agreed that ‘Share point’ will now be implemented.
AP2 – Details of sharepoint to be shared with the Group (JB).

Terms of reference

5. ToR has been updated to reflect new and additional membership. No comments received prior to meeting. Discussion ensued noting the following references; bullet point 1 refers to consistent messaging. PK sought clarity if a situation arises where an organisation is not supportive of an SG position. All agreed that re-wording to make it clear that this means only factual information would be sufficient.

6. Frequency of meetings shall include the word ‘minimum’ which is reflective of the future work activity ahead, some of which will require to be picked up by short life working groups.

7. Additional bullet point to be added to reflect that the majority of organisations have membership of other reference groups and therefore to ensure effective communication those individual members shall feedback on the detail of other work that is being progresses.

8. Agreement secured that ToR will be published on SG webpage.

AP3 – JB shall make minor changes to ToR and circulate to be signed off via email correspondence.

UC Scottish Choices

9. KS informed the members of next steps with UC Scottish Choices. Although no major marketing campaign is planned and currently a push to promote is primarily through local authorities, we are keen to seek the support of members to reach out to a wider network.

10. Discussion around the most effective routes ensued. All agreed that a ‘toolkit’ would be useful that would consist of a leaflet, poster and a factsheet.

11. The role of DWP around UC Scottish Choices was discussed as it only applies to UC Full Service areas and concerns were expressed around confusion. A toolkit which includes detail on UC rollout was requested albeit recognising that DWP are the owners of UC, therefore a ‘link’, signposting to always check DWP site. This would also ensure the role of SG is to offer additional choice to those affected in the relevant areas.

AP4 – Contact CAS to source feedback from advice workers and BS will issue to members to obtain feedback.

12. KS discussed the use of ‘Vox Pops’ to promote UC Scottish Choices to citizens and sought the support of members.

AP5 – Email interest as soon as possible.


13. CA updated members on plans to recruit staff to the agency. A discussion on using additional methods of advertising in addition to traditional channels followed.

14. The aspiration is to utilise a number of channels and be inclusive. The Group agreed to work together to better understand the barriers to recruitment for some communities.

AP6 – CA to send members draft job descriptions for their comment.

AP7 – CA to share the roles and responsibilities of pay bands, when available.

AP8 – Table a sub group to look at what ‘employability / recruitment’ offer can be considered.

Experience panels – update

15. CH delivered a presentation on where we currently are and plans for the coming year with Experience Panels. Members had received the findings of the first phase of research, ‘About Your Benefits and You’ and CH advised that the qualitative research would be issued in the near future at which point the offer of discussing in detail would be offered.

16. The information collected from both the survey and the focus groups is being used to develop a programme of work in collaboration with the Experience Panels that reflects what is important to our panel members.

17. Towards the end of last year, panel members engaged in targeted work on disability benefits, the branding of the new agency, and the new Best Start Maternity Grant. This work will continue into 2018, and we will also be working with panel members on the new Funeral Expenses Assistance benefit, Carers Allowance Supplement and a number of cross cutting areas relevant to the new system as a whole.

18. Young carers were a targeted group and CH was working with CC and others to run some events for recruitment. CC also advised that support was being offered to target island and rural carers.

19. HMcC asked about the data on ethnicity with CH advising that in the first phase, based on feedback from individuals, data was not collected. CH stated that now the EPs were established and an element of trust, new questions would be asked around ethnicity in the next round of panels.

20. RMcG suggested that EP members could push out the promotion of being on an EP to their local communities. anonymity is crucial in building the commitment of the EPs, which is a 4 year longitudinal research study, but CH will take the question to the EPs.

Carers Allowance Supplement (CAS)

21. HT attended the meeting to deliver an update, the role of user research and key messages on CAS. CAS will be paid from this summer 2018.

22. HT explained that the first payment will be made late summer therefore we are looking to start informing people from springtime. The service design programme and the work with EPs and with stakeholders will help design the communication products.

23. CL offered to utilise CEMVO channels of communications to reach citizens at grass root levels, specifically those in ethnic minority communities.

24. CC highlighted the effective use of the Minister’s, Jeane Freeman, CA video and to consider a similar approach.

25. SO expressed an opportunity when promoting CAS to include Benefit Take Up and maximisation of income.

26. CC shared concerns around the timescale of CAS, CA and the dual role of DWP and SG – clear communications with a timeline are required.

Date of next meeting

AP9 - Meeting due in April and we will schedule for the rest of the year. Sub-groups will be arranged as and when required.

27. EMcL thanked the Group again for their time and input and insights into the meeting today.

7th Nov. AP No. Action Point Who Status
1. Carla McCormick to share JRF research on poverty. CMcC Cleared
2. SG officials to set up workshops on each of these topics. JL and CB On-going
3. Colin Bell to explore a cloud storage platform for the Group to use. CB Due to platform being shared externally, we were required to explore software and a business case is being submitted. Update – Sharepoint is now the agreed method.
4. CEPG members to feedback on AP3 above, process and shared plan format once issued. All On-going
5. All members to feedback on draft ToR All Agenda item 25th Jan. Cleared
6. Agenda item to be added to next meeting to agree ToR and papers circulated in advance of meeting JB ToR issued with note of 7/11 mtg. Cleared
7. JB to share contact details for SG officials with the Group JB Cleared
8. Members to advise JB on any proposed alternative or additional members for the Group. All Cleared: DAS, Inclusion Scotland and Coalition of Carers
25th Jan. AP No. Action Point Who Status
1. JB to share details of the current reference / advisory groups JB
2. Details of sharepoint to be shared with the Group. JB A share point site for the Group has now been established and login details will follow soon.
3. JB shall make minor changes to ToR and circulate to be signed off via email correspondence. JB Cleared
4. Contact CAS to source feedback from advice workers and BS will issue to members to obtain feedback. CAS BS
5. Email interest as soon as possible. All Cleared
6. CA to send members draft job descriptions. CA Cleared
7. CA to share the roles and responsibilities of pay bands, when available. CA
8. Table a sub group to look at what ‘employability / recruitment’ offer can be considered. JB/CA
9. Meeting due in April and we will schedule for the rest of the year. JB 2018: Thurs 3rd May, Thurs 2nd Aug, Tues 23rd Oct



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