Corporate Board minutes: March 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Corporate Board on 29 March 2022

Attendees and apologies


  • John-Paul Marks (Chair), Permanent Secretary
  • Roy Brannen, Interim DG Net Zero
  • Colin Cook, Director for Economic Development (Substitute for Elinor Mitchell, Interim DG Economy)
  • Lesley Fraser, DG Corporate 
  • Joe Griffin, DG Education and Justice (from 15.00)
  • Ronnie Hinds, Non-Executive Director 
  • Paul Johnston, DG Communities
  • Caroline Lamb, DG Health and Social Care
  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director 
  • Alyson Stafford, DG Scottish Exchequer
  • Ken Thomson, DG Strategy and External Affairs

In attendance

  • Sam Anson, Deputy Director (DD), Improvement, Attainment and Wellbeing 
  • Andy Bruce, Director Communications and Ministerial Support
  • Luke Cavanagh, Unit Head, Corporate Analytical Services
  • Simon Mair, DD, COVID-19 Recovery
  • Jackie McAllister, Chief Financial Officer
  • Lisa McGuinness, Principal Private Secretary to Permanent Secretary
  • Ruaraidh Macniven, Solicitor to Scottish Government and Director, Scottish Government Legal Directorate
  • Neil Rennick, Director, Justice
  • Nicola Richards, Director, People Directorate
  • Shirley Rogers, Director, Performance, Delivery and Resilience
  • Paula Speirs, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, DG Health and Social Care
  • Claire Tynte-Irvine, Board Secretary 
  • Andrew Watson, Director, Budget and Public Spending
  • Robyn Whitelaw-Grant, Head of Governance and Risk 


  • James Gibbon, ET Strategic Governance Office (ET SGO)
  • Lesley Patrick, ET SGO 
  • Pamela Wilkinson, ET SGO


  • Annie Gunner Logan, Non-Executive Director 
  • Elinor Mitchell, Interim DG Economy

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions, apologies, declarations of interest, minutes

The Chair welcomed members and attendees to the first Corporate Board (‘the Board’) meeting of 2022.

Apologies were noted from Annie Gunner Logan, Non-Executive Director (NXD), and Elinor Mitchell, Interim DG Economy. There were no declarations of interest.

The Board agreed the minutes of the meeting on 7 December 2021 and noted the updates to the action tracker.

Permanent Secretary overview 

The Chair reflected on progress since taking up post as Permanent Secretary in January, including: the concurrent pressures of the response to Omicron, storms, and the situation in Ukraine; publishing the 2022 to 2026 Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan; the ongoing review of the corporate governance system and Executive Team (ET) ways of working; and the emphasis across the organisation on prioritisation and delivery. The organisation had continued to apply lessons learned from the COVID-19 response, particularly in relation to staffing and resilience but there is still work to embed sustainability in SG’s structures, systems, and culture. Corporate Board is a forum which provides an opportunity to focus on the fundamentals of how the organisation is designed and equipped to deliver on ministerial priorities.

The Board noted and welcomed the focus on enhancing links between financial planning and delivery of outcomes; approaches to long-term planning while responding to multiple crises; and continued effort to increase effective partnership working. 

Financial stewardship

The Chief Financial Officer gave an overview of the financial position and an update on the Resource Spending Review, noting: 

  • the potential for the Resource Spending Review to provide stability, and a clear plan for what can be achieved with the resources available to deliver impact and value for money
  • a budget flightpath for 2022/23 has been put in place setting out milestones for managing resource pressure. The flightpath is heavily weighted towards action in the early part of the year. The successful delivery of the 2021/22 budget flightpath should not detract from the scale of the challenge in 2022/23, with a challenging flightpath and emerging pressures t in-year e.g. cost of living impacts and the situation in Ukraine

In discussion the Board noted:

  • that effective business planning and discipline with robust prioritisation will be required to deliver the flightpath
  • the importance of learning from 2021/22 to ensure greater confidence in capital spending and accurate forecasting, supported by quarterly deep dives; rigour in examining data from previous years on spend, under-spend and slippage; and more real-time data
  • the opportunity to improve planning, estimates and monitoring through changes to behaviours and practices, which will be required in addition to the benefits of improved technology and corporate transformation initiatives

Organisational health and delivery 

DG Corporate highlighted key points from the Balanced Scorecard, including: 

  • broadly positive People Survey results, and indications of annual leave, flexi and overtime patterns returning to pre-pandemic levels, with continued focus and attention on this required
  • the organisational growth in the past year which was in part driven by the resources required to deliver EU exit, social security devolution and the organisation’s response to COVID-19, noting the associated cost implications 

  • decisions will be required on workforce planning and estate strategy, with hybrid working, net zero targets and wider corporate transformation programme as key considerations

The Head of Governance and Risk highlighted key points from the Corporate Risk Register, including: 

  • addition of a new risk regarding the implications of the situation in the Ukraine 

  • an increased risk score on National Care Service

  • high level of concurrent risk, with eight risks at the second highest level (200), including six with 2022 target dates 

In discussion the Board noted: 

  • the opportunity to examine how the organisation is set up to respond to emergencies, especially when they are long running and concurrent. Director of Performance, Delivery and Resilience highlighted work to establish resource baselines across the SG to enable sustainable and consistent emergency responses 
  • the opportunity presented through the Resource Spending Review to reset capacity and planning, to ensure that the SG is designed to deliver and to achieve outcomes 

  • the requirement for a multi-year workforce plan that offers agility, given recent growth. Current staffing levels and grade distribution have, in part, been shaped by the response to COVID-19, and there is a need to review organisational design. Directors have been asked to establish their workforce baselines, which will be reviewed by HR Business Partners, Finance Business Partners, and Directors-General as a first step

  • the ongoing improvements in risk management, with more to be done on integrating risk and budget management 

  • the value that NXDs add by challenging the Board to consider risk mitigation as part of cross-portfolio workforce planning 

  • the ongoing development of the performance management culture across the organisation, linking short- and medium-term delivery to longer term outcomes and impacts

Deep dive – COVID-19 recovery 

The Board received an update on work to support the recovery of key services and systems from the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on education, justice, health and social care. The COVID-19 Recovery Strategy (CRS) was published in October 2021, with three key outcomes agreed, supported by 68 actions. Work is underway to ensure robust and evidenced-based evaluation of delivery, and on the prioritisation and integration of actions in the CRS and related strategies. 

In discussion the Board noted: 

  • the vision and strategy for COVID-19 Recovery is one for Scotland, not just for SG, and the successful delivery of the CRS will require strong partnership working and systems leadership. Mutual information sharing and access to robust data was highlighted as a key enabler
  • the Health and Social Care recovery elements of the CRS were being considered in both short and long-term timeframes. In the longer-term, addressing issues that pre-dated COVID-19, such as improving population health, require cross-portfolio collaboration and a redesign of systems 

  • within the education portfolio, the emphasis is on building on the progressive actions underway but noted challenges remain around using data to evaluate impact 

  • to evaluate progress and impact of delivery of the CRS there is a need for short, medium, and long-term data – including detailed real-time data 

Corporate governance review – update

The Board Secretary invited the Board to note, comment on and endorse proposals which were recommended as part of the corporate governance review, and which had been agreed in principle by the Executive Team in February 2022.

The Board endorsed the following propositions: 

  • some existing sub-boards (Economy Board, Exchequer Board and Constitution and Europe Programme Board) to be removed from the formal governance structure and aligned with relevant Directorate General (DG) assurance processes 
  • Performance Board and People and Place Board to be retained and aligned with the relevant newly established meeting ‘modes’ of the Executive Team (Delivery Executive and People Executive respectively) 

  • further advice to be produced on refreshed governance and assurance mechanisms around expenditure and on strategic design frameworks 

In discussion, the Board noted: 

  • the concept of a Strategic Design Authority should initially focus on core Scottish Government but could potentially be expanded beyond that in the future 
  • consideration would be given to the most appropriate governance mechanisms and vehicles relating to public sector pay 

  • there will be scope to further evolve the governance framework, as and when required 


In closing remarks, the Permanent Secretary referenced the substantial work being done across the organisation, noting that this is alongside ongoing efforts to ensure the fundamental tools, systems and behaviours are in place to deliver in the long-term. Corporate Board provides a forum to reflect on and challenge those fundamentals. 



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