Report of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

A copy of all communications between Mr Benny Higgins and Scottish Government ministers and officials regarding the drafting, revision and publication of 'Towards a Robust, Resilient Wellbeing Economy for Scotland: Report of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery'.
The relevant correspondence which relates specifically to information on the drafting, revision or publication of the report is set out below as per your request.


The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery was announced by the Scottish Government on Friday 17 April, with its first formal meeting taking place on 27 April. The Advisory Group was supported by a small Secretariat of officials allocated from the Scottish Government. The Secretariat provided administrative and policy support to the Advisory Group in developing its report and recommendations. As the officials allocated to work in the Secretariat are substantive Scottish Government employees, their correspondence with the Chair of the Advisory Group, which relate to the drafting, revision or publication of the report, is deemed to be in scope of this request, in addition to other Scottish Government officials and Ministers.

Information on the early stages of the work of the Advisory Group was proactively published on the Scottish Government website. This material can be found at

It sets out that the focus of the Advisory Group during May was on collating the evidence and insights necessary to identify the key areas where interventions would be required to support the Scottish economy to recover from the impacts of COVID-19. During this time the Advisory Group engaged with groups and individuals to identify the key challenges facing the economy and opportunities to support the transition to a wellbeing economy. As outlined on the website, the Advisory Group had discussed key structural components of the report, building on the Four Pillars approach. 

Building on this analysis and consultation, the meetings of the Group in early June assessed possible structure and content of the Report, building on analysis shared with the Advisory Group from the Secretariat. Where other documents are attached to emails that do not relate specifically to the drafting, revision or publication of the report, these have been removed as they are deemed to be out of scope of the FOI Request.

We have considered the attachments to the emails which are in scope for the meetings held on 28 May, 4 June and 8 June. We have included for release the attachment for the meeting on 4 June.

The attachment for the meetings on 28 May and 8 June covered the early development of the proposals by the Group, which were subsequently finalised for the final Report which was published on 22 June. The release of this information is being withheld under Section 30(c) of the Act, which covers the potential to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. The key information on overall process undertaken by the Advisory Group was proactively released on the Scottish Government website, and the final report and analytical annex. 

At that time, the focus of Secretariat activity was almost entirely on writing up a draft report and recommendations based on discussions within the Group, under the direction of the Chair. Papers stopped being routinely circulated to Advisory Group Members from the meeting on 4 June following which the Secretariat was engaged in writing up the report and recommendations based on the direction given and interventions identified by the Advisory Group Members. 

During the week prior to publication, it was agreed between Mr Higgins and the First Minister’s office that the report would be published on 22 June. This correspondence is attached (please see table below).




29 May 2020

Email from AGER Secretariat to Advisory Group Members containing papers  for the meeting on 1 June.

This email contains a document which summarises the key proposals for interventions and a list of proposed areas for recommendations.

Attachment Exempt

3 June 2020

Email from AGER Secretariat to Advisory Group Members containing papers  for the meeting on 4 June.

This email contains a document setting out the principles, narrative and emerging recommendation themes.

Attachment Released

8 June 2020

Email from AGER Secretariat to Advisory Group Members containing papers  for the meeting on 8 June.

Attachment covering possible draft list of recommendations.

Attachment Exempt

14 June 2020

Email from First Minister’s Chief of Staff to the Chair of the Advisory Group.

The email provides a proposed date for publishing the report.

14 June 2020

Email from Chair of the Advisory Group to First Minister’s Chief of Staff.

This email agrees a date of 22 June for publication of the report.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FoI-202000055037 - Information released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top