Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cross Party Covid Recovery Steering Group minutes: 23 September 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the cross-party steering group held on 23 September 2021.

Attendees and apologies

Members in attendance (by virtual conference):

  • John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery (Scottish Government) (Chair)
  • Jackie Baillie MSP (Scottish Labour)
  • Beatrice Wishart MSP (Scottish Liberal Democrats)                                                                                       
  • Murdo Fraser MSP (Scottish Conservatives)
  • Gillian Mackay MSP (Scottish Greens)

A number of Scottish Government officials also attended the meeting.

Items and actions

Item 1: Welcome and minutes of the last meeting

The Chair welcomed members to the Group’s sixth meeting and gave a special welcome to Gillian Mackay attending the group for the first time, replacing Patrick Harvie.  Ms Mackay advised that Ross Greer will represent the Green Party at future meetings.

Members were invited to contact the Deputy First Minister’s office if they had any comments on the minutes of the previous meeting.

Item 2: Aims and Principles of the Scottish Covid Public Inquiry

Ian Donaldson (Deputy Director, Covid Inquiry Establishment) provided an overview of the arrangements underway to support the Scottish Covid Public Inquiry which included: the publication of the Inquiry’s draft Aims and Principles; the extensive engagement underway to seek the views of stakeholder organisations, the public and especially bereaved families and the importance of identifying an independent chair.

Members then discussed:

  • the importance of stakeholders views; particularly those of the bereaved families and how those views would feed into the inquiry;
  • timescales for reporting and the potential length of the inquiry;
  • the need for the Inquiry to be open and accessible; and
  • the scope of the Inquiry and whether the Inquiry would seek to make recommendations for the handling of future pandemics.

Item 3: Economic update by Chief Economist

The Scottish Government’s Chief Economist, Gary Gillespie, delivered a presentation on the economic impacts of the pandemic.

In response to the presentation, members discussed a range of issues, including:

  • how the end of furlough would impact on the labour market and wider economy;
  • which sectors were experiencing labour shortages and the potential impact on the festive season;
  • how to address the skills gaps in the labour market and help those who are currently unemployed find sustainable employment;
  • the potential economic impact of underemployment and low incomes;
  • the long term challenges of economic inactivity and the role of the UK Government.

Item 4: Employability and Skills

Helena Gray (Director Fair Work, Employability and Skills), delivered a presentation on employability and skills interventions.

In response to the presentation, a range of issues were discussed, including:

  • the importance of ensuring that those seeking work are aware of the range of support available
  • how to help the currently economically inactive move to sustainable employment
  • the role of Local Authorities and the 3rd Sector in helping people to identify the support available
  • how to tailor provision to local needs.

The Deputy First Minister thanked members for their feedback and suggested that a further discussion on the range of labour market interventions be held once furlough had ended.

Item 5: Focus and timing of the next meeting

The Deputy First Minister suggested that a follow up discussion on Covid recovery strategy developments be the focus of the next meeting.


Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery

The Deputy First Minister asked officials to canvas Group Members to seek a suitable date for the next meeting.

Item 6: AOB

No other business was raised.


Group Secretariat

Scottish Government

September 2021

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