Coronavirus (COVID-19): Stakeholder Recovery Roundtable minutes June 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 24 June 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister (DFM) and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery
  • Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy
  • Humza Yousaf MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care
  • Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
  • Sandy Begbie - Chair, Scottish Financial Enterprise
  • Jackie Brierton - CEO, GrowBiz
  • Sir Harry Burns - Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde
  • Liz Cameron - Director & Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce
  • Sylvia Douglas - Social Innovation Partnership  - MsMissMrs
  • Steven Drost - CSO at CodeBase
  • Heather Fisken - Interim Director/Head of Policy and Research Team, Inclusion Scotland
  • Larry Flanagan - General Secretary, EIS, Teaching Union
  • Roz Foyer - General Secretary, STUC
  • Sofie Gillespie - Owner, Where the Monkey Sleeps sandwich chain
  • Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham -  Police Scotland
  • Steve Grimmond - Chair, SOLACE
  • Lynn Hendry - Social Innovation Partnership  - The Hunter Foundation
  • Dr Ima Jackson - Expert Reference Group on COVID and Ethnicity
  • Sally Louden - Chief Executive, COSLA
  • Susan Love - Head of External Affairs, Federation of Small Businesses
  • Carey Lunan - Deep End GP and Chair
  • Louise Macdonald - National Director,  Institute of Directors Scotland
  • Frances Mair - Professor of General Practice, University of Glasgow
  • David McNeil, Strategic Director, SCVO
  • Sir Anton Muscatelli - Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of Glasgow
  • Anne-Marie O’Donnell - CE, Glasgow City Council
  • Professor Sir Geoff Palmer - Professor Emeritus in the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University
  • Emma Parton - Director, Highland Soap
  • Ralph Roberts - Chair of CEs of NHS Boards
  • Jim Savege - Chief Executive, Aberdeenshire Council
  • Sara Thiam - Chief Executive, SCDI
  • Kirsten Urquhart - Interim Chief Executive, Young Scot
  • Paul Johnston, Director General Communities, Scottish Government
  • Mary McAllan, Director, Covid Recovery, Scottish Government
  • Clare Hicks, Deputy Director, Covid Recovery Directorate, Scottish Government
  • Tom Lamplugh, Head of Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government
  • Heather Carson, Head of Ops, Covid Recovery Directorate, Scottish Government
  • Megan Johnston, Secretariat, Covid Recovery Directorate, Scottish Government


  • Professor Lorne Crerar CBE, Chairman, Harper McLeod
  • Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive, SCVO

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

DFM introduced the second in a series of engagements to discuss Covid Recovery. Reflecting on methods used during the course of the pandemic, it was clear some approaches achieved different outcomes with some services delivered faster, and innovative approaches rolled out at pace for maximum impact.

Scottish Government thinking therefore was focused on ways in which we could harness that progress fundamentally to tackle underlying issues particularly of poverty, of strengthening financial security for families in most need and in the context of our ambitions on net zero. DFM recognised the need to create more sustainable opportunities to support families, which had to be more than delivering additional public support.

The sort of recovery people want to see

Tom Lamplugh set out the results of extensive public research on the sort of recovery people want to see, namely which should:

  • be ambitious and transformational
  • achieve financial security for all
  • support health and wellbeing
  • promote equality and strengthen rights
  • support economicdDevelopment
  • address the harm caused by Covid-19
  • recognise the value of time and social connections

Together with how they wanted to see recovery develop, namely which should:

  • empower communities and places
  • start from the individual
  • involve people in decision making
  • be evidence driven

In summary, it was observed that the recovery priorities identified by people are closely aligned with the National Outcomes and the Christie Commission pillars of participation, partnership, prevention, performance and place. Further, in terms of Government engagement, it was underlined that having consulted on the “what” and the “how” of recovery, taking these strong messages on board demonstrably would be critical.

Plenary discussion

DFM opened the meeting for plenary discussion. The following points were made:

Partnership approach

Colleagues were encouraged by the focus in the points from DFM and the presentation on a fair and green recovery, enabling conditions for businesses to thrive.

There was overall commitment to work together while recognising that some sectors were still struggling to recover from restrictions and so taking a nuanced approach would be important. Working at pace would help engage business, who in some areas, were still in survival mode, and for many, net zero was not currently high up on their agenda.

Political consensus around the overall aims would help in delivering the recovery people wanted to see.

The need to prioritise the conditions for better cross-sector collaborative working in recovery


The opportunity of improvement science particularly in healthcare was raised and the benefits already demonstrated in hospitals and the Early Years Collaborative discussed together with the need to empower frontline staff and the need for more data to spread learning.

On healthcare, the issue of confidence in vaccination in some groups was raised and needed addressed.

In building consensus around prioritisation of services, there would be choices to be made: consultation should be built on transparency and honesty, recognising the trade offs required, to create headroom to do things differently.

The need for greater focus on population health moving forward – the key roles and potential of public health and primary care, and the need to support ways of better collaborative working between the two as key partners in ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ population health

The need to prioritise the conditions for better cross-sector collaborative working in recovery


The experience of those with disabilities was raised and the need to address the employment gap. The Scottish Government had made some progress but much more was needed.

The role of digitisation was raised by a number of colleagues with a wide range of experiences including the advantages and disadvantages of digital healthcare for different groups. The difficulty of digital exclusion for some households was discussed as were the opportunities of digital for supporting enterprise start-ups and better paid jobs-with the role of start-up funding in rural areas emphasised.

Technology in the service of our people was central and innovation science would perhaps benefit from a focused group to consider it. Homeworking and the move to digital delivery of work had benefited some with disabilities while making life harder for some –one size fits all responses should be avoided.

Fair work and good jobs

Discussion of the centrality of high quality jobs – meaningful work - weaved throughout the discussion, as the centre of driving the recovery and tackling poverty. Connecting an industrial strategy, driving demand for green jobs and being strategic about our investment was key.

Model of the Young Person’s Guarantee was raised as was the idea of strengthening the Business Pledge.

The specific circumstances of women were discussed, with the pandemic impacting on work and childcare. The need for “scaffolding” around people to support them into work and to look at the whole spectrum of aspects of their lives was covered, and the fact that small amounts of money well targeted could have a massive impact. The pandemic had driven a more joined up approach – therefore a plea not to return to silos.

Was there a social contract to be struck, an overarching industrial and innovation strategy where we are clear on the priority sectors and technologies? The issue of the impact of the end of furlough and business support as well as debt resolution was mentioned and acknowledged as both important and a key intergovernmental issue.

Role of local authorities

The role of local authorities was raised as a key service provider and driver of economic development, recognising many of the services delivered locally had been shaped by service users, an advantage that should not be lost after the pandemic. That sense of all being in it together should be retained.

Education was central as seen in the impact of school closures during Covid. Colleges and universities were also drivers of economic recovery. Community capacity could be enhanced by empowered local communities and education sector was key to that.


Cabinet Secretaries thanked colleagues for their responses, reflected on the need to demonstrate leadership of a transition, balance the need for fair jobs as well as address the pressures on business and deal with health and social care problems. A focus on families and the creation of fair work was critical.


In summing up, DFM thanked colleagues for their considered contributions and reinforced the desire to operate collaboratively and collectively to build the interfaces to stay out of silos. There were big lessons to learn and Government was developing its thinking ahead of outlining its programme in the autumn.

Three points stood out:

  • the context and need for a common agenda across the Parliament
  • the transition to be made to higher value employment and support to families in areas of poverty
  • the need for holistic support and working methods.

DFM thanked colleagues for their time and confirmed that Ministers would schedule further engagement activity over the summer.

Covid Recovery Directorate

June 2021

MS Teams chat – highlights

Demographic change has already occurred in Scotland and there is a risk of perpetuating, for all our futures, the racialised inequity demonstrated in COVID  in our systems of recovery unless we pay focused attention to systemic processes, understand and address them.

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