4. Working with people with experience of social security: what's been done?
The process is still at an early stage. Three day-long workshops have been held with the core group and one with stakeholder organisations  . Officials have systematically analysed the information collected in these events and presented it back to the core group to reflect and build on.
4.2 Core Group workshops
Three full day workshops have been held with the core group. Each has been a mixture of providing information and facilitating discussion. The second and third workshops both included an exercise where officials reflected back to the core group the findings from analysis of the information collected in the previous workshop. The core group were then asked to reflect on these findings, and confirm or develop on them as needed.
This process was designed to firstly, ensure the analysis reflected the core group's discussions and, secondly, to enable core group members to further deliberate on the issues and develop their thinking and opinions. This method has added value to the process and significantly enhanced the findings.
4.2.1 Information giving sessions
To date the core group have received the following seven information giving sessions designed to build capacity and facilitate informed discussion. Unless stated otherwise, these sessions were led by Scottish Government officials.
- An introductory session covering the background to social security in Scotland and information on the content of the Act in respect of the charter.
- Information about charters and their purpose including examples of other charters from the NHS, other Social Security systems across Europe and key organisations in Scotland.
- A presentation on the meaning of co-production in the context of the work they were being asked to undertake.
- Information on the findings from Experience Panels research to set the scene and give context to our knowledge to date of people's experience of social security.
- Two sessions covering seven principles from the Act. Both sessions focussed on the actual wording of the principles, the policy intention behind the principles and some plain English explanations.
- Two sessions covering the meaning and importance of the remaining principle; the human right to social security. The session covered the five aspects of the human right to social security as defined in key human rights instruments and associated guidance, most especially the International Covenant on Social, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and UN General Comment 19 on social security  . In short these are adequacy, availability, accessibility, progression and non-regression. The first session was interactive given by a representative of the Scottish Human Rights Commission ( SHRC) the other was recap of the points made by the SHRC to introduce a discussion session.
- A session on the imperative as set out in the Act for the Agency to follow Inclusive Communication standards. This included the meaning of Inclusive Communication.
4.2.2 Information collection sessions
These information giving or capacity building sessions were interspersed with facilitated discussion sessions to collect information on participants' opinions.
To date core group members have taken part in round table discussions each with between three and seven participants, on the following six subjects:
- Existing charters and what people liked or didn't like about them
- What members think the charter should be called
- The size and shape of the new charter, covering length, formats, tone, text and images
- The meaning and importance to participants of principle (b) social security is itself a human right and essential to the realisation of other human rights. These discussions were broken down into the five elements presented to the core group by SHRC; those being, adequacy, availability, accessibility, progression and non-regression. The group discussed what each meant to them, what was the most important thing about the principle from their point of view and how they would like to see it represented in the charter
- The meaning and importance to participants of principle (d) respect for the dignity of individuals is to be at the heart of the Scottish social security system. The group discussed what respect for dignity meant to them, what was the most important thing about this principle from their point of view and how they would like to see it represented in the charter
- The meaning and importance to participants of the remaining six principles (see Annex A). Six round table discussions were carried out, one for each principle. For each, officials asked what the principle meant to core group members, what was the most important thing about the principle from their point of view and how they would like to see it represented in the charter. These discussions lasted two sessions.
4.3 Stakeholder workshop
To date there has been one workshop where officials collected information from a wide range of key stakeholders (see Annex B). The workshop was planned with Dr Sally Witcher (Inclusion Scotland and Vice Chair of the Disability and Carer's Benefit Expert Advisory Group) CEO who also chaired the event.
The workshop was a mixture of presentations, plenary discussions and round table discussions.
Firstly, stakeholders were asked in a plenary session to state:
- A question they had about the charter
- A suggestion they had about the charter
The questions and suggestions were noted.
Secondly, officials presented information on the model of working with people with experience of social security being used including the rationale, the make-up of the core group, the gaps identified in the core group, the core group's findings to date and the next steps.
Stakeholders were then asked to consider (in table discussions followed by a plenary) the charter as a whole and to develop a list of design qualities that the charter should have. The idea was to make a framework against which the charter can be tested. Officials gave an example based on the core group's insistence that the charter should be written in plain straightforward language.
Finally, stakeholders were allotted two of the principles (see Annex A) from the Act per table and asked to consider and state 'who needs to do what' for the new system to achieve this principle in practice.
The stakeholder groups provided valuable contributions to the lists of statements which outline what the principles should mean in practice. To avoid confusion or duplication, these findings have been incorporated into the following section. It is important to note that there was much consensus between the contributions of stakeholder organisations and the priorities of the core group. Stakeholder organisations highlighted a number of areas that had not been identified by the core group by this stage – including equality and non-discrimination. These topics will be picked up in more detail at future sessions with the core group and at the sessions with people with experience of social security who are not yet represented on the core group.
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