Consumer Scotland Data Working Group meeting: December 2019

Minutes and papers from the second meeting of the CSDWG, held on 5 December 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Scottish Government – Neil Ritchie, Head of Consumer, Competition and Energy Company Services Unit (CCECS) and Chair of Working Group  
  • Scottish Government – Wendy McCutcheon, CCECS and interim Secretariat to WG  
  • Advice Direct Scotland – Andrew Bartlett  
  • Advice UK – Chilli Reid  
  • Advice UK – Ali McLaren  
  • Citizens Advice Scotland – Polly Tolley  
  • Doteveryone – Jacob Ohrvik-Stott  
  • Financial Services Ombudsman – Byron Orme  
  • Food Standards Scotland – Caroline Thomson  
  • Ombudsman Services – Daniel Murray
  • Property Ombudsman – Katrine Sporle 
  • Resolver – James Walker  
  • Scottish Government – Peter Brearley, CCECS – Policy Adviser Energy Consumers
  • Scottish Government – Jeremy Vincent, Social Researcher, OCEA  
  • Scottish Government – Paul Matthews, Statistician, OCEA  
  • Scottish Government – Nicola Kerr, Data Sharing and Linkage, Digital Directorat
  • Scottish Government – Alessia Morris, Data Sharing and Linkage, Digital Directorate
  • SCOTSS – Sandra Harkness
  • Trading Standards Scotland – Julie McCarron  
  • Which? – Thomas Docherty


  • Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme – John Munton  
  • Scottish Government – Peter Irving, CCECS and Secretariat to WG  

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions 

Neil thanked everyone for participating in this meeting with the majority of people phoning in as this meeting had a fairly light agenda. 

Neil introduced himself as the new unit head of the Consumer, Competition and Energy Company Services Unit. There then followed introductions by all attendees.

Draft minutes had been circulated with comments received from WG members. Revised minutes will be circulated when Peter is back in the office.


Neil slightly altered the running of the agenda as membership had a natural follow-on from agenda item 1. 

At the last meeting it was felt that data specialists should be added to the WG along with specialists in the energy sector.

Neil introduced Alessia Morris and Nicola Kerr from the Scottish Government’s data sharing and linkage unit. Neil had invited them onto the WG due to their data expertise and their role would be explained further at agenda item 4.

Peter Brearley of the Consumer and Competition Policy Unit had also been invited to join this meeting at least as he leads on the Scottish Government work on energy consumers.

Neil had also spoken to members of the Scottish Regulators Forum and had invited them to nominate one of their members onto this WG. 

Neil then gave an update on the Consumer Scotland Bill. The Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills had appeared before the Committee to discuss Stage 1 evidence. The Committee report should be available by the end of this year.

Remit and ToR  

Following feedback from the initial meeting, the remit and ToR had been updated to reflect discussions.

Neil opened the agenda item up for discussion on the updated documents.

One comment was noted which was that the remit did not say what this group would do with a more co-ordinated system. It was suggested that a high level sentence to provide clarity round this issue may be helpful. Action – Neil Ritchie

If anyone else has any drafting or substantive comments could they please let Wendy know by 12 December.

Update from Data Sharing and Linkages Unit on Research Data Scotland (RDS) paper 

Alessia and Nicola provided an update on RDS. The purpose of RDS is to improve data access for ethically sound research which is in the public good and improves our understanding of equalities. RDS’s initial offer will be providing a single point of contact to help researchers to access a suite of key public sector data and will comply with all legislation.

In relation to the WG, RDS would be able to assist with storing data and analysing it.

Some questions around the technical aspects of RDS were asked such as how to update the information in real time and how is sensitive / personal information used. Additional technical information will be circulated following this meeting. Action – Data Sharing Unit to provide data sharing high level briefing note on their work.

Apologies were made for the bad phone line and if any members have any specific questions could they please direct them through Wendy.

Update from Trading Standards Scotland on the future of an intelligence database  

Julie provided the WG with an update on the TSS intelligence database. Currently there is one database across the majority of GB that serves all trading standards and other law enforcement officers such as Food Standards Scotland (FSS). However England and Wales are moving to another system and TSS is now looking at options for going forward.

Discussions have been held with the current provider and there are a few options which TSS could potentially pursue. These include:

  • 0ne database for Consumer Scotland and TSS

- this would be configured for both organisations with each organisation only seeing the information they are entitled to see

- however, it is not entirely clear what Consumer Scotland would need

- there is also the possibility of linking in to other data sets

  • TSS could share their colleagues new database

- this would give them direct access to all the information they require

  • discussion with FSS.

Neil asked Caroline about the process FSS undertook when separating from the FSA. Caroline advised that numerous MoU and multiple data-sharing agreements were put in place.

Local authority trading standards officers have concerns over the breaking up the database and there needs to be further thought into how links are maintained with GB data.

Julie will be presenting at the COSLA leaders meeting early in the new year and will keep us updated.

Proposed future work 

Neil stated that to date focus had been on the policy intent of Consumer Scotland. Now the focus is on how to move forward with Consumer Scotland. If WG members had any thoughts on this they should advise Wendy.

Some areas that this WG could look at include:

  • identifying what is already available and spotting any gaps
  • discussing process issues and technical requirements – this links into the work of RDS
  • post Bill enactment and managing expectations of the role of Consumer Scotland.

The work plan would entail pulling together a report of specific asks and where necessary commission work.


None.  WG secretariat will put out dates in the new year for the next meeting.

SG: DECC: CCECS |   5AQ Glasgow   | 17 December 2019  

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