Corporate Board minutes: October 2019

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

Attendees and apologies


  • Leslie Evans (Chair), Permanent Secretary
  • Barbara Allison, Director Communications, Ministerial Support & Facilities  
  • Lesley Fraser, DG Organisational Development & Operations
  • Annie Gunner Logan, Non-Executive Director
  • Janet Hamblin, Non-Executive Director
  • Ronnie Hinds, Non-Executive Director
  • Paul Johnston, DG Education, Communities and Justice
  • Ruaraidh Macniven, Solicitor to the Scottish Government
  • Hugh McKay, Non-Executive Director
  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director
  • Alyson Stafford, DG Scottish Exchequer
  • Ken Thomson, DG Constitution & External Affairs
  • Malcolm Wright, DG Health & Social Care

In attendance

  • Andrew Bruce, Principal Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary
  • Alex Mowat, Private Secretary to the Permanent  Secretary
  • David Rogers, Director for Constitution and Cabinet (Item 3)
  • Andrew Watson, Director of Budget and Sustainability (Item 2)


  • Emma Sinclair, Executive Team Support and Governance Office
  • Joanne Ward, Executive Team Support and Governance Office


  • Liz Ditchburn, DG Economy
  • Julie Humphreys, Board Secretary
  • Nicky Richards, Director of People
  • Gordon Wales, Chief Financial Officer

Items and actions

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

1. The Chair welcomed everyone to the fourth Corporate Board (CB) meeting of 2019. Apologies were noted from Liz Ditchburn, Julie Humphreys, Nicky Richards and Gordon Wales. There were no declarations of interest. 

2. The Board agreed the minutes of the CB meeting on 3 September 2019. 

Item 2:  Financial Stewardship

Fiscal and Spending Review update  

3. Andrew Watson, Director for Budget and Sustainability, provided an update on the Spending Review process and wider fiscal issues.

4. In discussion the Board noted: 

  • The work underway to develop the Outcomes Framework for the Spending Review
  • The challenge in identifying key milestones which are dependent on the process and timing of the UK Budget
  • That the continuing uncertainty around EU Exit is having an impact on economic forecasting 
  • Audit Scotland have commented on the Medium Term Financial Strategy in their section 22 report on the 2018-19 Consolidated Accounts

5. The Board agreed that: 

  • Directors-General will support their respective Cabinet Secretaries in their preparation for the Spending Review Cabinet discussion shortly
  • A written update will be provided by Andrew Watson before the next CB meeting on 3 December 2019
  • Future advice to Cabinet should be drafted to enable Cabinet Secretaries to clearly focus on the options available
  • The funds required for the transformation of corporate services in the Scottish Government (SG) should be protected as much as possible, given the vital nature of this expenditure 
  • There should be a substantive update on fiscal issues at the next CB meeting on 3 December 2019

Item 3:  Vision and Strategy

EU Exit and Constitution 

6. DG Constitution and External Affairs provided an overview of the Constitution and Europe Programme’s vision for an effective SG response to current circumstances and the projects underway supporting this work.  

7. In discussion the Board noted: 

  • The need for SG to be ready to respond quickly to changing circumstances 
  • The impact on the capacity and capability of SG to deliver this alongside existing commitments and priorities

Item 4: Vision and Strategy

Update on the ET Development Session

8. DG ODO provided CB with an update on the recent Executive Team (ET) Development session. 

9. In discussion the Board noted that SG has, in the National Performance Framework, a clear vision for Scotland but that there are immediate challenges that require consideration and response. 

10. The Board noted:  

  • The role for ET in sense-making, leading change and making the best use of resources
  • The importance of defining and agreeing ET’s role in relation to vision, values and wellbeing 
  • The intention to design and agree the scope and capacity for a 20 month transition forward look 
  • The importance of engaging other key parties, such as Directors, in refining these plans



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