Corporate Board minutes: September 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the board on 27 September 2022.

This document is part of a collection

Attendees and apologies


  • John-Paul Marks (Chair), Permanent Secretary 
  • Roy Brannen, Interim DG Net Zero 
  • 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 and Social Care 
  • Louise Macdonald, Interim DG Economy 
  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director
  • Dominic Munro, Director for Strategy (for DG Strategy and External Affairs) 
  • Alyson Stafford, DG Scottish Exchequer 

In attendance 

  • Jennie Barugh, Director of Fiscal Sustainability and Exchequer Development (item 4) 
  • Andrew Bruce, Director for Communications and Ministerial Support 
  • Jonathon Curry, Deputy Director, People Strategy (item 4) 
  • Penelope Curtis, Head of Elections and Freedom of Information Division (item 3) 
  • Stephanie Gray, Head of Fiscal Sustainability Unit (item 4) 
  • Claire Hughes, Head of Fiscal in-year Management (item 4) 
  • Iain MacNab, Head of Risk Management Policy (item 5) 
  • Ruaraidh Macniven, Solicitor to the Scottish Government 
  • David Martin, Non-Executive Director 
  • Jackie McAllister, Chief Financial Officer 
  • Belinda Oldfield, Non-Executive Director 
  • Nicola Richards, Director for People 
  • Neil Richardson, Non-Executive Director 
  • Jim Robertson, Non-Executive Director 
  • Shirley Rogers, Director Performance, Delivery and Resilience (for item 3) 
  • Fiona Ross, Non-Executive Director 
  • Jayne Scott, Non-Executive Director 
  • Claire Tynte-Irvine, Board Secretary 
  • Robyn Whitelaw-Grant, Head of Governance and Risk (item 5) 


  • James Gibbon, ET Strategic Governance Office
  • Dan Jones, ET Strategic Governance Office 
  • Lesley Patrick, ET Strategic Governance Office 


  • Ken Thomson, DG Strategy and External Affairs 

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions 

The Chair welcomed members and attendees. Apologies were noted from Ken Thomson. There were no declarations of interest.

The board agreed the minutes of the meeting on 28 June 2022 and noted the updates to the action tracker. 

Permanent Secretary overview 

The Chair thanked colleagues and their teams for the delivery of Project Unicorn following the death of Her Majesty the Queen. Recent priorities had included the publication of the Programme for Government and DFM’s statement on the cost crisis. The First Minister had commissioned an emergency budget review in the light of the current economic context.

Director General Scottish Exchequer provided an update on the recent UK fiscal event. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) will publish their analysis on 23 November. Director General Corporate provided an update on corporate transformation programmes. Deliverables for the current financial year were confirmed and a funding position was in development. 

Director General Communities updated on public service reform confirming the overall approach for engagement with public bodies, including in the context of the resource spending review and subsequent increased budgetary pressures.


Director Performance, Delivery and Resilience provided an update on the identification of emerging risks and early interventions. Work is underway on enhanced monitoring and reporting on commitments identified in the Programme for Government, to support a consolidated single data set linking risk, resourcing and performance. Weekly deep dives with the Permanent Secretary are being conducted on issues of particular focus, such as Ukraine and net zero.

In discussion the board noted:

  • the importance of clarity on risk ownership and the realistic potential to mitigate risk impact
  • the Strategic Asset Review Group will continue to help ensure lessons learned are built into the approach adopted to asset investment 
  • a review is underway of the implementation of the Ukraine super-sponsorship scheme
  • cost increases have an impact on private sector activity and public sector delivery as well as households. Policy commitments in this area will be linked to the Emergency Budget Review (EBR) and available resource
  • the analysis supports an effective response to individual issues noting that additional areas of focus will continue to arise: work continues in parallel to anticipate longer term challenges 

Director for Communications and Ministerial Support updated on performance in response to parliamentary questions, ministerial correspondence, and freedom of information requests. Current reporting focuses on timeliness of response and volumes of requests, with additional work in train to focus on the quality of responses. All three areas follow a similar process, with a focus on improving outcomes. 

In discussion the board noted:

  • continued focus on performance is required and action to improve transparency could also help by anticipating requests
  • interest in ensuring delivery of other key priorities is tracked with similar clarity

Organisational health 


The Chief Financial Officer provided an update, noting pressure across both capital and resource budgets which was likely to persist despite savings options presented. The emergency budget review would now take place in late October. DGs were encouraged to continue to challenge proposals for spend and to ensure robust forecasts are developed. 

Director of Fiscal Sustainability and Exchequer Development provided an overview on new reporting of the fiscal medium-term position. Data collection was not yet consistent, but this would be reviewed and improved. The medium-term position remained challenging. Structural changes were likely to produce more sustainable benefits than individual measures. 

In discussion the board noted: 

  • modelling should include ‘worst case’ scenarios to support early decision-making as necessary
  • communication with partners needed to be managed clearly and quickly. Delivery expectations will need to be realistic in a challenging fiscal context
  • early budget guidelines would support effective preparation within portfolios and at a cross-government level


Director People and Deputy Director People Strategy provided an update on workforce planning. Scrutiny of workforce numbers will continue for the rest of this financial year, with enhanced recruitment controls agreed. A hub has been established to allow staff to be moved flexibly across the organisation to priorities. 

DG Economy provided an update on the programme to align the DG workforce and structure with the national strategy for economic transformation.

In discussion the board noted: 

  • the importance of maintaining succession planning, in particular where scarce specialist skills are required
  • other options to deliver change should be considered, noting the opportunity to develop innovative partnership arrangements
  • positive evidence of effective redeployment, maintaining staff engagement and promoting tasking across organisational boundaries
  • the impact of hybrid working should be considered as part of this conversation 
  • the importance of a positive approach, promoting prioritisation, delivery, future design and connection to our values to support colleagues to thrive
  • the new Strategic Design Authority will be important to avoid cementing current design into future developments and to enable tests of change
  • the need to understand the potential impact of proposed UK legislation on EU Retained Law for policy and legislative development
  • the potential to enhance the impact of existing structures through consolidation of scattered functions
  • the opportunity in forthcoming budget discussions to reinforce the mutual connection between resources, policy and the workforce to deliver


Head of Governance and Risk provided an update noting ongoing work to ensure a consistent approach to risk management and controls. There remain a number of high scoring risks and consideration should be given to whether these scores correctly reflect the risk appetite of the organisation. 

In discussion the board noted: 

  • the need to focus on mitigating as well as identifying risk, while noting that many risks at this level were not entirely within Scottish Government control
  • the opportunity to consider the trajectory for overall risk levels, taking into account which risks have a natural maturation point, and which are enduring, and how that could shape the future risk profile 
  • the opportunity to review the calibration of risks, in the light of this perspective, noting that further definition of risk appetite would clarify what risks should be escalated

Draft governance statement accompanying the annual accounts 2021 to 2022 

The Chief Financial Officer noted that the draft has been shared with Audit Scotland. The board was invited to comment on whether the draft is an accurate reflection of governance activity across the organisation.

In discussion the board noted:

  • the statement remains live until it is signed by the Permanent Secretary with a balance required between reflecting the period covered by the accounts and material covering current arrangements
  • the significant detail regarding fraud risk reflects the emphasis on this area in Audit Scotland’s opinion on the 2020 to 2021 annual accounts
  • the board noted the draft statement, and that feedback from Audit Scotland is anticipated. There will be an opportunity to comment on the proposed final version via correspondence

Any other business 

No items of other business were raised. The next meeting of Corporate Board is scheduled for Tuesday 6 December. 


Corporate Board minutes


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