Corporate Board minutes: June 2021

Minutes from the Corporate Board (formerly the Executive Board) meeting on 1 June 2021, chaired by the Permanent Secretary.

This document is part of a collection

Attendees and apologies


  • Leslie Evans (Chair), Permanent Secretary
  • Andy Bruce, Director, Communications & Ministerial Support
  • Liz Ditchburn, DG Economy
  • Lesley Fraser, DG Corporate
  • Joe Griffin, DG Education and Justice
  • Annie Gunner Logan, Non-Executive Director
  • Ronnie Hinds, Non-Executive Director 
  • Paul Johnston, DG Communities
  • Caroline Lamb, DG Health & Social Care
  • Ruaraidh Macniven, Solicitor to the Scottish Government
  • Madhu Malhotra, Director for Equality, Inclusion & Human Rights
  • Jackie McAllister, Chief Financial Officer
  • Hugh McKay , Non-Executive Director 
  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director 
  • Nicola Richards, Director, People
  • Alyson Stafford, DG Scottish Exchequer
  • Ken Thomson, DG Constitution & External Affairs
  • Katrina Williams, DG External Affairs

In Attendance

  • Jennie Barugh, Director, Performance & Strategic Outcomes
  • Jennifer Bradley, Deputy Director, Tax
  • Luke Cavanagh, Unit Head, Corporate Analytical Services
  • Catriona MacLean, Deputy Director Public Sector Reform, Public Bodies & Third Sector
  • Sean Neill, Director, Local Government & Communities
  • Laura Turney, Head of Public Service Reform Unit
  • Kerry Twyman, Deputy Director for Public Spending
  • Robyn Whitelaw Grant, Governance & Risk Team


  • Claire Tynte-Irvine, Board Secretary
  • Lesley Patrick, ET Secretariat

Items and actions

Item 1: Welcome, Introductions, Apologies, Declarations of Interest, Minutes

1. The Chair welcomed everyone to the second Corporate Board (‘the Board’) meeting of 2021, in particular noting thanks to Katrina Williams, attending the Board for the final time ahead of her move to Defra.

2. There were no declarations of interest.

3. The Board agreed the minutes of the meeting on 2 March 2021 and noted the Action Tracker. 

Item 2: Permanent Secretary Overview

4. The Chair provided an overview of events since the last Board meeting in March 2021, noting:  

  • the smooth operation of the election and the importance of effective induction for the new Cabinet, despite the degree of continuity.
  • the premium on agile delivery, learning from the Covid-19 response, with fresh rigour and resilience; and the need to make this evident in our work.
  • the renewed focus on outcomes over inputs, requiring teams at all levels to remain close to delivery and compelling in how they support ministers to achieve outcomes across boundaries.
  • the tools available to support this work, in particular the Programme for Government and the Spending Review, as well as organisational development, with plans in place to engage widely on the latter in September
  • the important work underway on our corporate systems and the future use of our workspaces, being led by the newly appointed Director for Corporate Transformation
  • the imminent submission of our response to the Committee Inquiry into handling of harassment complaints, Dunlop and Hamilton reports, which would make an important statement of our intent moving forwards, including for the culture of the organisation.

5. In discussion the Board noted:

  • the importance of assessing coverage of key priorities moving forward and the value of the present opportunity to review learning, shift our culture toward more agile approaches and seek support from others in delivering change.

Item 3: Balanced Scorecard including Capacity and Capability deep dive

6. The Board received an overview of information on the Scottish Government’s organisational health, delivery performance and corporate risks, noting:

  • the ongoing development and flex of the scorecard to support delivery within an overarching performance framework, driven by Performance Board
  • the renewed focus on cross-cutting performance brought by the Deputy First Minister (DFM), which was an opportunity to improve coherence between short term actions and  medium and long term outcomes;
  • that Risk Management continued to improve across the organisation but that almost all risks are considered as having limited or reasonable control and most remain above tolerance.

7. In discussion, the Board noted:

  • intermediate outcomes could support a ‘golden thread’ from the First 100 Days to the National Outcomes, and drive prioritisation and action
  • performance monitoring should be done ‘with’ and not ‘to’ those delivering and should support concrete improvement for delivery.
  • the need to build on local arrangements, with a focus on adding value through understanding the aggregate position, and being clear about the boundary between Scottish Government’s role and that of wider Scotland.
  • the opportunity to sharpen the balanced scorecard as a tool to drive connections between performance and risk management and pivot resource and effort over the short, medium and long term, linking action and spend to outcomes.
  • the steady progress and improved clarity of risk management and architecture which  should now mature to become a driver of action for Corporate Board and ET.
  • the need to link risks to impact on NPF outcomes, through the  Balanced Scorecard.
  • recruitment for a risk team has progressed with some appointments made.
  • risk would be integrated in work on the forthcoming spending review, particularly for multi-year forecasting.

Capacity and Capability Deep Dive

8. The Board received a detailed analysis of work underway to mitigate the risks to capacity and capability across the organisation, noting:

  • significant recruitment, with approximately half of new roles being temporary;
  • working days lost remain at low levels and flexi time, overtime and annual leave balances appear to have peaked but significant backlogs persist;
  •  positive scores in the recent Investors in People assessment
  • the case for investment in ageing systems with associated opportunities for improvement.

9. In discussion the Board noted:

  • thanks to the People Directorate for the significant and important work undertaken to keep the organisation functioning
  • investment in infrastructure was required and acknowledged as a priority including by ministers
  • where localised pressures persisted these should be clearly identified and addressed through flex across the organisation
  • the need for strategic workforce planning to ensure the right organisational shape and skills for delivery.

10. The Board agreed:

  • that Director Performance & Strategic Outcomes should develop a refreshed Balanced Scorecard offering a clear connection between the National Performance Framework Outcomes, intermediate outcomes and Programme for Government priorities, for presentation to Performance Board and subsequently the December meeting of the Corporate Board.
  • that Director People should consult non-Executive Directors on steps to develop strategic workforce planning, in anticipation of the need for Executive Team to consider this before the end of the year.

Item 4: Financial Stewardship

11. The Board received an overview on financial performance for the previous year and FY21/22 forecasts, including income tax expectations; and updates on the proposed Resource Spending Review, noting:

  • the overall position for FY 20/21 was on track, with provisional outturn being finalised.  An outturn analysis exercise is being undertaken and a report will be presented to the Corporate Board with the key findings in due course. The findings will help inform where financial management improvements could focus.
  • significant unfunded pressures in FY 21/22, with Accountable Officers to agree options to deprioritise commitments with Cabinet Secretaries during June with a paper setting out the options for wider Cabinet consideration at the end of June.
  • the potential opportunity of a Spending Review to support changed behaviours, including in response to the shock to medium term plans from Covid-19.
  • that the Spending Review process would draw on the historic evolution of financial management, while driving a focus on outcomes, cross cutting multi-disciplinary working and fiscal sustainability
  • that lower than forecast Scottish income tax receipts would have wider financial impacts and addressing this would require a focus on economic performance.
  • the importance of longer term financial planning was also commented on.

12. In discussion the Board noted and agreed:

  • thanks to the Chief Financial Officer and her team for successfully delivering the FY20/21 outturn position.
  • work would be needed across the organisation to ensure focus on a wide array of means to improve economic growth as the way of growing tax receipts.
  • multi-disciplinary teams engaged in the Resource Spending Review should be clear on what change they sought to deliver, the impact on outcomes, how and when savings would be realised; effective stakeholder handling, especially with regards to those activities that might be deprioritised to pivot programme and TOC resources to deliver manifesto commitments, would be key.
  • the need to adopt an approach which supported longer term financial planning.
  • an effective spending approach was important, both to Scottish Government reputation and to overall economic performance, and spending options should make demonstrable links to delivery of key priorities.
  • that the Board should consider further the resourcing of macro fiscal policy and strategy work in the Exchequer in the light of constitutional developments and support the continued fiscal maturity of the Government.

Item 5:  Deep Dive : Public Service Reform

13. Paul Johnston, DG Communities, set out three key areas: the role of public service reform (PSR) in delivering the vision and strategy for Scotland; how to secure the necessary partnership working; and the means of achieving change, whether through focus from the new administration, learning from the Covid-19 response or the whole system approach advocated by Christie.

14. In discussion the Board noted and agreed as appropriate:

  • that change needed to be organic, drawing on a strong common purpose between key players and anchored in NPF Outcomes;
  • that identification of intermediate outcomes with clear accountability and a focus on securing best value might support more concrete action;
  • the importance of focus, connecting to priorities for renewal, and consolidating changed behaviour during the pandemic;
  • that the impact of Covid-19 on young people, and their long term potential to drive change, suggested early prioritisation of this group;
  • the need for honesty about affordability, including with partners, and a shared understanding of barriers and commitment to overcome them, even if this required changes in perceived power and accountability;
  • the important role of the Third Sector, as set out in the work of the Economic Recovery Board and Social Renewal Advisory Board;
  • the power of user centred design and digital strategy to shift the dial and ongoing collaboration in this area;
  • the importance of delivery and operational capability, across the Scottish Government and at all levels, in realising these ambitions
  • that a true connection to lived experience, grounded in data on the experience of different groups, must be at the heart of this approach, with clear expectations of what that should look like in practice.

15. The Board asked Public Service Reform Team and ETSGO to develop a proposal to draw more deeply on NXD support, experience and engagement to advance this agenda. It agreed that DG Communities should return to ET and other governance structures as appropriate to update on engagement and progress across the organisation in delivering reform priorities.

Item 6: AOB

16. There was no further business raised.

Next Meeting – Tuesday 7th September 2021



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