Corporate Board minutes: November 2018

Minutes from the 6 November 2018 meeting of the Corporate Board (formerly the Executive Board).

Attendees and apologies


  • Sarah Davidson (Chair), DG Organisational Development and Operations
  • Barbara Allison, Director of Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities (Items 3 – 6)
  • Liz Ditchburn, DG Economy
  • Paul Gray, DG Health and Social Care
  • Annie Gunner Logan, Non-Executive Director
  • Janet Hamblin, Non-Executive Director
  • Ronnie Hinds, Non-Executive Director
  • Paul Johnston, DG Education, Communities and Justice
  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director
  • Nicky Richards, Director of People (Items 3 – 6)
  • Alyson Stafford, DG Scottish Exchequer
  • Ken Thomson, DG Constitution and External Affairs
  • Gordon Wales, Chief Financial Officer

In attendance

  • Elisabeth Campbell, Head of EU Exit Readiness (Item 4)
  • Luke Cavanagh, Corporate Analytical Services (Item 5)
  • Alan Johnston, Deputy Director for EU Exit Readiness (Item 4)
  • Gillian Russell, Director for Safer Communities (Item 4)


  • Helen Buckley, ET Support and Governance Office
  • Rebecca Winterstein, ET Support and Governance Office


  • Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary
  • Hugh McKay, Non-Executive Director

Items and actions

Item 1: Welcome, introductions, apologies, declarations of interest, minutes and actions

1. Sarah Davidson, acting Chair (Chair), welcomed everyone to the Corporate Board (CB) meeting and noted apologies from Leslie Evans, Julie Humphreys and Hugh McKay. The Chair noted that Barbara Allison and Nicky Richards were unavoidably delayed but would join the Board during the meeting. No declaration of interest were noted.

The Board agreed the minutes of the Corporate Board meeting on 4 September and noted the action tracker.

2. The Chair provided an update on Action 29 on the Review of the delivery and implications of the new powers (Social Security) confirming that the Remit was now finalised; that she was in the process of securing external, independent personnel; and finalising timing on when the Review would commence. A further update will be provided to CB.

3. The Chair said that the Estates Strategy paper would be taken as a below the line paper and would formally issue in correspondence. If, following this process members felt further discussion was required the Executive Team Support and Governance Office (ET SGO) would arrange time to discuss before the end of the calendar year. The Board agreed to proceed on this basis.

Item 2: Corporate overview

4. The Chair provided an overview of areas of current corporate significance including:

  • the sad death of Sir Jeremy Heywood, until very recently, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the UK Civil Service. She reflected on his visible leadership and unremitting pursuit of Civil Service (CS) improvement performance and acknowledged the loss to the whole of the CS. Sir Jeremy had been succeeded by Sir Mark Sedwill
  • the People Survey which closed on the 31 October. The organisation maintained the 2017 response rate of 78% with the highest number of responses since 2010 and 12 percentage points higher than the median response rate for the UK Civil Service. Executive Team (ET) would have an opportunity to discuss the results on 13 November with a further discussion scheduled for 18 December prior to coming to CB on the 5 February 2019
  • the Auditor General’s Section 22 Report on the 2017/18 audit of Scottish Government Consolidated Accounts and recent meeting with the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee. The Committee would be writing to the Permanent Secretary inviting her to give oral evidence; and the ongoing Non-Executive Director Recruitment campaign. The panel had now completed the sift with interviews scheduled from week commencing 26 November
5. The Chair invited Paul Gray to address the Board. Paul informed the Board of his decision to stand down as Director General for Health and Social Care from 31 March 2019. A public announcement would be made in due course. The Chair took the opportunity to reiterate and record the Permanent Secretary’s appreciation of Paul’s contribution during his tenure.

Item 3: Financial stewardship


6. Barbara Allison and Nicky Richards joined the Board during this item.

7. Gordon Wales provided Board members with an overview of the 2018-19 provisional outturn position noting actions implemented under the Budget Management Framework and continuing work to deliver financial balance in 2018-19

8. In discussion the Board noted:

  • the current financial position as reported
  • the Barnett consequentials and additional allocations for Scotland for 2018-2019 to 2020-2021 announced in the UK Budget on 29 October
  • the increased funding allocated funding for Brexit preparations in the UK Budget, noting that, it was not yet clear, how much, if any, extra funding would be allocated to Scotland
  • the continuing engagement with Ministers, individually and collectively, in relation to making sustainable spending decisions
  • the opportunity costs to the organisation of the in-year Budget management activity required to get to a balanced position, and the need to look at this through the lens of business delivery
  • work across all Business Management teams in the organisation to support work on the Budget Management Framework
  • the role of Central Finance in maintaining an oversight on pressures and opportunities within portfolios to allow informed decisions to be taken collectively
  • the need for Directorates to continue to bear down on spending in 2018-19 to ensure the delivery of a balanced budget
  • the next stage in the process would be providing advice to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance

Item 4: Strategy and vision

EU Exit

9. Ken Thomson provided the Board with an update on the organisation’s preparedness for EU Exit.

10. In discussion the Board noted:

  • the interim assessment of preparedness based on work undertaken to date (as discussed in DG bilateral meetings), which would inform the forth coming Cabinet paper
  • ongoing work within the organisation to prepare for EU Exit including risk management, resilience preparations and engagement planning
  • the demand placed on the organisation’s key assets including finance, and staff capacity and capability and the need to agree collective priorities and criteria for reprioritisation to prepare and deliver an effective response to EU Exit
  • the preparations required of the Scottish Government in relation to the possibility of a ‘No Deal’ scenario, unless and until such an outcome can be definitely ruled out, regardless of whether agreement is reached between the UK and the EU27

11. The Board agreed that:

  •  the detail presented accorded with their understanding of the organisation’s EU exit preparedness, and that they supported the conclusions set out in the presentation

Item 5: Organisational health

Balanced scorecard

12. The Chair noted that the Balanced Scorecard was now in a form which should support the Board in scrutinising and assuring key indicators of organisational health and performance. Further work was being undertaken to refine the data set to ensure it focussed discussion on the right issues at any given time.

13. In discussion the Board noted:

  • that DG Organisational Development and Operations would retain responsibility for the development of the Balanced Scorecard given that the majority of the corporate data was collected and analysed within that portfolio
  • for future meetings, the relevant corporate Directors would prepare an overview drawing out the key themes and narrative which would allow CB discussions to focus on the strategic challenges and issues
  • the change to the presentation of data in the Balance Scorecard and the plan to continuously improve the scorecard on an iterative basis, including the development of a set of key indicators
  • that consideration would now be given to the frequency of CB consideration of the Scorecard

14. The Board agreed that:

  • they individually recognised the data relating to their DG families and the value it provided
  • Corporate Analytical Services should consider further corporate processes for development/inclusion e.g. recruitment and procurement

Item 6: AOB

15. No items were tabled.

Next meeting: Tuesday 5 February 2019
ET Support and Governance Office
November 2018



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