Coronavirus (COVID-19) Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group minutes: May 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 3 May 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Linda Bauld, Interim Chief Social Policy Adviser (Scottish Government), and Professor of Public Health (University of Edinburgh) (Chair)
  • Kathy Johnston, Interim Deputy Director, Economic Analysis, Scottish Government
  • Michael Kellet, Director of Population Health, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Kerr, Chair of SOLACE
  • Eddie Follan, COSLA
  • Tim Ellis, Head Performance and Outcomes, Scottish Government
  • Claire Sweeney, Director of Place and Wellbeing, Public Health Scotland
  • Nick Watson, Professor of Disability Studies, University of Glasgow
  • Patricia Findlay, Professor of Work Employment and Organisation, University of Strathclyde
  • Sarah Skerratt, Director of Programmes, RSE and Professor of Rural Society and Policy, University of Edinburgh 
  • Steven Marwick, Director, Evaluation Support Scotland
  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood Policy, University of Edinburgh
  • Vittal Katikireddi, Professor of Public Health, University of Glasgow
  • Tom Lamplugh, Head of Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat for the Covid-19 Learning and Evaluation Group)
  • Graeme Wilson, Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government
  • Fran Warren, Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government
  • David Bomark, Strathclyde University

Apologies were received from:

  • Mary McAllan, Director for Covid Recovery, Scottish Government  
  • Sarah Davidson, Chief Executive, Carnegie UK
  • Jim McCormick, Chief Executive, Robertson Trust
  • Emily Lynch, SG Improvement Service
  • Nicola Dickie (Eddie Follan deputising for Nicola Dickie)
  • Andrew Watson, Director for Budget and Sustainability, Scottish Government

Items and actions

The Chair welcomed everyone to the third meeting of the Covid 19 Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group. New members of the Group were invited to briefly introduce themselves.   

The Chair ran through the Agenda. 

Update on Grant Funding Call

Fran Warren presented on the outcome of the grant funding call. The Chair thanked the group for their help in assessing the proposals and asked the group to contact Fran if they have a particular interest in any of the projects, and Fran can provide more details off line and/or involve them in future meetings. 

Priorities for the Covid-19 Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group

Summary evidence papers to inform Covid-19 Recovery

Tom Lamplugh presented on Priorities for the Covid-19 Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group and the proposal for summary evidence papers. There was widespread support for the approach of ‘Learning from the Pandemic’ papers and especially a focus on practice and delivery, and for the outputs to lead to change. There was also support for an approach that will examine how we worked and responded and what should change as a result, rather than focussing on specific topics. 

Claire Sweeny stressed the importance of ensuring that everyone is sighted on existing work in the areas discussed, so that the focus is on addressing the gaps and not duplicating existing work. Public Health Scotland have done work on the economy and poverty which might feed into this. 

It was also stressed that these papers should be aligned with existing policy initiatives and developments across government and beyond.

The intention is that the papers will be published on the website. 

Patricia Findlay suggested that there is a gap in this proposed programme of papers around work and workplaces, and Fair Work that others agreed with. Other suggested topics of focus included digital and protected characteristics, both of which could be considered as a cross-cutting theme rather than a standalone output. The papers on the NPF and four harms approach are likely to be deprioritised. There was support for the paper on how our response to the pandemic increased and reduced inequalities for disabled people, but an appetite for this to look more broadly across protected characteristics rather than focussing solely on disabled people. The paper on the person centred approach attracted interest but a number of group members had questions on that, and it was agreed that any paper would need to offer something distinctive to ongoing/recent work in this area. There was support for the paper on public services for those most in need, especially in the context of the cost of living crisis, but this would need to drill down what is meant by those ‘most in need’. 

Further consideration will be given to the point made about Place – both in terms of Rurality and Island communities (which may be considered as a cross cutting theme) and in terms of how communities and places have come together to support each other in terms of the pandemic response and learning from that. Finally, there was a suggestion to try and keep a focus on key positive lessons about what worked. 

Tom Lamplugh discussed how group members might actively support the Secretariat to take forward these papers. For example, discussions on particular topics, commenting on the final list of the papers, scoping out individual papers where members have a particular interest, identifying case studies and evaluation evidence etc. The Chair acknowledged how busy members are and reiterated that any support is voluntary. 

Claire Sweeney, Nick Watson and Steven Marwick offered help. Steven Marwick stressed the importance of narrowing the scope of papers and being very clear on the aims, objectives and methodology. On dissemination, Steven Marwick offered to run some learning workshops before official publication and Patricia suggested that dissemination would best be planned early. 

Action: OCSPA to follow up with Claire Sweeny on work by Public Health Scotland. 

Update from group members

Kay Tisdall raised the Applied Research Collaborative Studentships that are being advertised by the Scottish Funding Council, which are about developing Scottish Research capacity and Covid 19 is mentioned specifically. 

Nick Watson, suggested a meeting of local authorities to discuss how they are responding to the challenges of Covid recovery. Eddie suggested this could be done through Cosla. 

Action: OCSPA to give an update on the Covid recovery work at the next meeting of the group.   

Any other business

Graeme Wilson updated on the UKG Evaluation Accelerator Fund proposal. OCSPA submitted an application on behalf of SG for an economic and impact evaluation on the effectiveness and scalability of local Pathfinders to reduce child poverty. The application is for a quasi-experimental approach and that evaluation will sit alongside a (SG) process evaluation. There have been 45 bids to the fund. Graeme to update the group on the outcome. 

The Chair mentioned the cost of living crisis which also affects organisations and their functioning. Work will involve assessing the scale of the crisis and priority groups affected and then looking at options that could be delivered by SG and partners to alleviate the pressure. Request to the group to highlight relevant data and analysis. 

Steven Marwick mentioned the Tracker study and the questions on the impact of the cost of living on the organisations they are asking. 

Date and agenda for next meeting

Next meeting – Mid to late August, date TBC. 

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