Communications and Engagement Partnership Group minutes: November 2017

Minutes of the Social Security Communications and Engagement Partnership Group meeting held on 7 November 2017.

Attendees and apologies


  • Evie McLaren, Head of Comms & Engagement Unit, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Kirsten Sweeney, Strategic Communications Manager, Scottish Government
  • Jo-anne Lawson, Engagement Business Partner¸ Scottish Government
  • Polly Tolley, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS)
  • Nicola Dickie, COSLA
  • Euan MacKay, NHS Health Scotland
  • Marion Davis, One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS)
  • Carla McCormack, Poverty Alliance
  • Kirsty McKechnie, CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group)
  • Sheghley Ogilvie, SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations)
  • Jeremy Hewer, SFHA (The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations)
  • Richard Baker, Age Scotland
  • Colin Lee, CEMVO (Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations)
  • Emma Trottier, Engender

In attendance

  • Jeane Freeman MSP, Minister for Social Security
  • Simon Ebbett, Senior Marketing Manager, Scottish Government
  • Jacqueline Brown, Engagement Manager Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Colin Bell, Communication Manager, Scottish Government


  • Suzanne Munday, MECOPP (Carers)
  • Lucy Mulvagh, The Alliance

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

1. EMcL opened the meeting, welcomed all representatives to the inaugural meeting of the Group, and in particular, the Minister for Social Security, Jeane Freeman who was in attendance for the first 45 minutes. The Minister thanked everyone for attending and expressed the importance of working together to ensure joined up communications.

2. It was acknowledged that many members and their organisations are already involved in the Social Security Programme through reference or advisory groups. Members agreed that this Group would have a different, non policy-orientated remit that would focus on working together to get factual information regarding the social security changes out at the right time to the right audiences.

3. Members were then invited to discuss some initial thoughts about the Group’s role and work going forward. It was agreed that working together in a complementary way would help get information to those that need it.

4. Members discussed the importance of tailoring and targeting information to suit the audience and using the right language and tone in communications. Members raised ways that they can help with this eg sharing information on research and experience. AP1 – Carla McCormick to share JRF research on poverty.

Update on uptake work

5. SE delivered a presentation to the group on the early results from the work undertaken in 2017 to encourage benefit uptake.


6. Discussion then turned to priorities for early work for the Group with two clear themes emerging: the first was to understand those that are harder to reach through traditional means and how we work together to ensure we can reach them; the other main theme was how we work together to change attitudes and ‘hearts and minds’ beyond those who are in receipt of benefits. AP2 – SG officials (CB and JL) to set up workshops on each of these topics.

Shared forward planning

7. Colin Bell (CB) talked through a proposal to have a shared forward planner for the Group where members could highlight opportunities for joint or complementary working and messages and to share any forthcoming announcements, events and campaigns that would be of interest to members. This was welcomed by Group members. AP3 – Colin Bell to explore a cloud storage platform for the Group to use. AP4 – members to feedback on process and shared plan format once issued.

Group Terms of Reference

8. EMcL explained that a version of the Group’s ToR were drafted for discussion and, given time constraints, encouraged members to provide feedback in correspondence. AP5 – All members to feedback on draft ToR AP6 – Agenda item to be added to next meeting to agree ToR and papers circulated in advance of meeting

9. EMcL also reiterated that we would encourage working together throughout the year, not just at the meetings and workshops, and would welcome discussions with Group members at any time, as would other officials in her unit. AP7 – JB to share contact details for SG officials with the Group.

AOB and date of next meeting

10. It was agreed that the date of the next full meeting for the Group would be late January, with further dates set now, at quarterly intervals, for 2018. Workshops will also be organised in the next few months.

11. There was a brief discussion on whether there were any potential members that could be added to the Group and if those attending today may feel that another representative from their organisation could be better suited to be a member of the Group. AP8 – Members to advise JB on any proposed alternative or additional members for the Group.

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



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