Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 6 October 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 6 October 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Des Murray (co-chair), SOLACE 
  • Carrie Lindsay (co-chair), CSP Strategic Leads Network
  • Helen Happer, Care Inspectorate 
  • Claire Burns, CELCIS 
  • Fiona Dyer, Children and Young People's Centre for Justice 
  • Jude Turbyne, Children in Scotland 
  • Lorna Watson, Child Health Commissioners
  • Alan Small, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Maureen McAteer, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland
  • Lynne McNiven, Directors of Public Health 
  • Neil Hunter, SCRA 
  • Elliot Jackson, Children's Hearings Scotland 
  • Jillian Gibson, COSLA 
  • James Carle, Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group 
  • Sam Faulds, Police Scotland 
  • Leoni Hunter, Public Health Scotland 
  • Rona Robb, Scottish Ambulance Scotland
  • Alison Gordon, Social Work Scotland 
  • Laura Lamb, Scottish Social Services Scotland
  • Fi MacFarlane, The Promise
  • Michael Chalmers (co-chair), Scottish Governmnet 
  • Iona Colvin, Scottish Governmnet 
  • Phillip Gillespise, Scottish Governmnet 
  • Laura Holton, Scottish Governmnet 
  • Bryony Revell, Scottish Governmnet 
  • Gavin Henderson, Scottish Governmnet 
  • Gordon Paterson, Scottish Governmnet 
  • Clare McCrum, Additional Attendees 
  • Angelica Lorenzo, Additional Attendees 
  • Cara Cooper, Additional Attendees 
  • David Hannigan, Additional Attendees 
  • Lorraine Henderson, Additional Attendees 
  • Peter Donachie, Secretariat   
  • Emily Aitchison, Secretariat   

Items and actions

Welcome and note of last meeting (1 September 2022)

Michael Chalmers welcomed attendees to the meeting. There were no amendments to the note of the last meeting on 1 September. There was one action: a request that CLG discuss the cost of living crisis. This will be the next agenda item at this meeting. The originally scheduled item of UNCRC Incorporation will now be discussed at the meeting on 3 November.

Cost of living crisis/child poverty delivery plan

Angelica Lorenzo discussed the evidence based approach being taken through the child poverty delivery plan to address cost of living issues. 

The plan is focusing on:

  • the three main drivers of poverty: income from employment, cost of living, and income from social security and benefits in kind
  • boosting life chances for children and young people
  • achieving sustained reduction in poverty over the long term

A combination of policies is required to tackle child poverty over both the short and longer term. The evaluation strategy for the plan is monitoring the cumulative impact of these policies on the child poverty targets and the drivers of child poverty. In relation to cost of living issues, the measurement framework for the Delivery Plan encompasses housing costs; debt levels; access to affordable credit; and access to affordable childcare and transport. There are some gaps in the evaluation strategy in relation to health and wellbeing. To address this, links are being made with the Children, Young People and Families Outcomes Framework. Clare McCrum described the range of actions being taken to support families with the cost of living. These include immediate, direct assistance including through Scottish Child Payment and social security benefits and longer term support for employability, housing, digital access and other measures to improve life chances and reduce poverty.

Pamela McQuarrie gave an overview of the communications campaign the Scottish Government is undertaking to promote better awareness of the range of support available. A website has been set up to bring together information on the help that can be obtained. This includes advice on coping with increasing energy bills, managing rent, support for families, health and wellbeing and guidance on benefits and one-off payments. An insignia for cost of living support has been developed for organisations to help make their own information and resource materials more easily recognisable.

A multi-media campaign across social media, radio and television is taking place to raise awareness of the website. Leaflets and posters are being distributed to libraries, GPs, Community Centres and other venues to help provide information to those who do not have easy access to the website.

Members’ views were as follow:

  • it is crucial that families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. The benefits system can be difficult to navigate and more needs to be done to simplify information and access arrangements Angelica noted that the pathfinder work taking place in Glasgow and Dundee is considering how best to provide more person-centred approaches to delivering support. The pathfinder work will be evaluated and disseminated for wider learning
  • members highlighted the role of local authorities and third sector partners in supporting families to access benefits and other support although in some cases resource constraints is making this more difficult to sustain
  • Maureen McAteer noted that housing conditions and heating are major concerns amongst a mothers group she had met that day. Some are using pre-payment meters. Others are using smart meters as a means of helping to reduce costs but there remain major worries over debt. There are also concerns that childcare and other centres are not receiving the level of donations previously available to assist families. Debt amnesties (e.g. for rent arrears; school meals) and direct support payments should be a key part of the response to the cost of living crisis
  • Alan Small said that CPCS Scotland has provided an article for The Herald highlighting concerns that, without further action, the cost of living crisis will lead to an increase in child neglect and abuse

Members agreed it is essential to learn from the direct support work undertaken during the pandemic. This includes clarifying the implications of direct support payments for other benefit payments families receive. CELSIS will recirculate the evaluation report of the direct support payments scheme North Lanarkshire operated during the pandemic. Angelica Lorenzo drew attention to a Scottish Government report on support for low income households during the pandemic. Fi McFarlane noted Professor Morag Treanor’s work on free school meal payments. Clare McCrum confirmed that options to respond to the cost of living crisis and tackle child poverty remain focused on taking a cash first approach

  • the CSP Strategic Leads Network will have a significant role in highlighting and sharing good practice at local level. Local Child Poverty Delivery Plan report will also help to identify good practices and areas of learning
  • there is also a key role for trusted individuals and named persons as part of the GIRFEC Practice Model to help signpost families to support using the national and local communications materials

Cara Cooper, David Hannigan and Lorraine Henderson presented a proposal to help mitigate cost of living issues for care experienced children and young people who are at risk of significantly poorer outcomes as they often do not have the same support network in place as their non-care experienced peers. Discussions are taking place with Young Scot to help develop advice and support for the care experienced as part of the range of resources for young people on the cost of living crisis that Young Scot is providing. Other strands of work will consider the support that can be provided by corporate parents (including FE and HE institutions) and through the GIRFEC Practice Model. CLG members were invited to volunteer or nominate representatives from their organisations and networks to assist this work.


  • Clare McCrum to share with the group an update on action in relation to debt

  • CELSIS to circulate evaluation report on North Lanarkshire’s direct support payments

  • CLG Members to provide nominations to Secretariat to assist work on developing cost of living support for care experienced children and young people

CLG revised remit

Michael Chalmers noted CLG’s successful role in supporting children and families during the pandemic. The group has been considering for some time how best to refocus its work. The paper circulated to members proposes reshaping CLG as a new group to provide strategic leadership for both crisis response and transformational change work. In discussion, members agreed the proposals and suggested that a more structured programme management approach, including an action plan, should be developed. This will help to ensure the new group has a stronger work programme with a sustained focus on strategic leadership and oversight. There would be a sharper, shorter approach to intelligence gathering and dissemination. A review of CLG membership and relationships with other stakeholder groups will be undertaken. This will help to avoid overlaps and duplication of work.

Additional points from MS Teams Chat:

  • priorities for the newly formed group will be key rather than trying to tackle everything that's interesting or even important. Hard to identify priority issues sometimes especially when the issues are interlinked, but getting real traction on a few of the most important issues is preferable to broad discussion about a lot, but with little movement forward
  • where there might be task or ask (two-way), it would be helpful to consider in terms of connected groups.

Support for Ukrainian refugees

Iona Colvin noted that the number of arrivals is expected to continue to rise with continued pressures on local authorities in responding to accommodation needs and other challenges. Iona thanked local authority teams for their work in supporting new arrivals. Work is taking place to assist unaccompanied minors arriving in Scotland. The Scottish Government is also working with Police Scotland, Disclosure Scotland and other partners on safeguarding issues.

Any other business and close

There was no AOB. CLG’s next meeting is on 3 November. The main agenda item will be UNCRC Incorporation.

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