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

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 16th August 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Linda Bauld, Chief Social Policy Adviser (Scottish Government), and Professor of Public Health (University of Edinburgh) (Chair)
  • Sarah Skerratt, Director of Programmes, RSE and Professor of Rural Society and Policy, University of Edinburgh 
  • Audrey MacDougall, Chief Social Researcher, Scottish Government
  • Steven Marwick, Director, Evaluation Support Scotland
  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood Policy, University of Edinburgh
  • Emily Lynch, SG Improvement Service
  • Mary McAllan, Director for Covid Recovery, Scottish Government  
  • 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:

  • Sarah Davidson, Chief Executive, Carnegie UK
  • Claire Sweeney, Director of Place and Wellbeing, Public Health Scotland (Pamela Smith deputising)
  • Andrew Watson, Director for Budget and Sustainability, Scottish Government
  • Vittal Katikireddi, Professor of Public Health, University of Glasgow
  • Patricia Findlay, Professor of Work Employment and Organisation, University of Strathclyde
  • Nick Watson, Professor of Disability Studies, University of Glasgow
  • Richard Foggo, Director of Population Health
  • Jim McCormick, Chief Executive, Robertson Trust
  • Nicola Dickie, Director of People Policy, COSLA
  • Andrew Kerr, Chair of SOLACE
  • Gary Gillespie, Chief Economist, Scottish Government
  • Shirley Rogers, Director of Performance, Delivery and Resilience, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Items and actions

The Chair welcomed everyone to the fourth meeting of the COVID-19 Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group. 

The Chair ran through the agenda. 

Update on the grant funding programme and learning from the pandemic papers

Fran Warren provided an update on the grant funding programme of expert reviews. All the expert reviews are on track and due to report by their scheduled completion dates. OCSPA have met at least once with all of the grant holders and have at least another meeting planned before delivery. 

Action 1: The Chair requested volunteers for informal peer review of the UNCOVER report. 

Update from Fraser of Allander on their expert review 'Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on income: labour market changes and policy solutions' followed by questions and discussion

Emma Congreve thanked the group for the invitation to present. This piece of work is seeking to understand the impact of Covid-19 on household incomes through labour market changes over the last two years.

Hannah Randolph presented the key findings from the labour market analysis. The presentation emphasised three key messages:

  • employment and unemployment have worsened for less-educated men since just before the pandemic
  • weekly hours worked have broadly returned to pre-pandemic levels for employed people
  • real weekly pay remained steady through the pandemic, but began to fall at the end of 2021 for younger workers, and less educated workers

Possible limitations to the Labour Force Survey relating to difficulties disaggregating data due to small Scottish sample sizes and a lack of information around self-employed people were discussed.

Questions were also raised about what the work might tell us about travel patterns, older workers, and automation within the labour market.

The Chair thanked the research team for their presentation and said this is going to be an important and timely piece of research. 

Learning from the pandemic paper - 'What do evaluations of COVID-19 interventions tell us about their impact on disabled people?'  

David Bomark presented the draft paper. The paper examined 18 Scottish Government evaluations.

Key conclusions included:

  • the majority of evaluations reviewed did not examine the differential impact of COVID-19 interventions on disabled people
  • there were, however some examples of evaluations that have successfully ensured that the voices of disabled people and their experiences were reflected
  • evaluations which did look at the experiences of disabled people provided glimpses of the multiple barriers often faced by disabled people

In discussion it was suggested that further work was required in order to:

  • be more exact in wording and distinguish the difference between reviews and evaluations
  • differentiate between the experiences of disabled people through covid as opposed to what worked in helping meet their needs
  • incorporate learning from third sector organisations – in order to provide some richer findings that would reinforce some of these tentative conclusions  

Steven Marwick offered to help us approach some of third sector intermediaries and see what is available. Emily Lynch also offered to support any wider exploration around the impact evaluations in terms of local government or community planning partnerships for example. 

Tom Lamplugh welcomed this support and said it would be valuable to flesh out some of the impacts and include some good examples of evaluations of interventions where there was good reporting around disability.

Action 2: Tom Lamplugh to follow up with the group in relation to Covid-19 evaluations which draw out learning in relation to disability.

The Chair said that OCSPA will take on board the comments and feedback in due course and will circulate the paper once revisions have been made.

The Chair thanked David Bomark for his work and wished him all the best with his PhD. 

Update on COVID recovery work

Mary McAllan updated on the COVID Recovery Strategy. Since publishing the Strategy last October, the team are preparing for the next programme board which should be in September. Mary reminded the group that the COVID Recovery Strategy is underpinned by an agreement with local government. Work since the last meeting has been focussed on outcomes, and moving away from inputs to looking at outcomes by developing a set of outcome frameworks. Working closely with local government and community planning partners to achieve this.   

Mary McAllan also mentioned the Glasgow Pathfinders, which is another important dimension around covid recovery. The Pathfinder programme is a place-based approach to whole system change to reduce child poverty. It is a key measure in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-26, now being piloted in Glasgow and Dundee.   

The Chair thanked Mary for her update.

Update from group members

There were no updates from external members. 

Any other business

Graeme Wilson advised the group that the Scottish Governments bid to the Evaluation Accelerator Fund (EAF) for “An Economic and Impact Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Scalability of Local Pathfinders to Reduce Child Poverty” had been successful.  

There was a discussion around the broader levelling up agenda and recognition that the policy lessons and learning will be relevant. 

The Chair updated on the cost crisis work. This is a priority for the Scottish Government and the First Minister has stood up SGoRR and that group is now meeting weekly.

Tom Lamplugh asked for suggestions for how the grant funded projects might best be brought together and presented to the group in an interesting and effective way.    

Sarah Skerratt suggested having poster presentations which is an interactive approach which can help with understanding enormously. But that does require us to meet in person.    

The Chair said that we will give that some thought to that more interactive approach.

Date and agenda for next meeting

The next meeting will be in early November. This meeting will be run as a hybrid meeting.  

The Chair thanked everyone for their contributions. The date and time for the next meeting will be confirmed shortly.

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