- 23 Sep 2020
Attendees and apologies
- Claire McDermott, Scottish Government (Chair)
- Barbara Donegan, CPAG
- Roddy Duncan, SG Health and Welfare reform
- Phyllis Craig, Clydeside Action on Asbestos
- Tommy Gorman, Welfare Rights Adviser
- Helen Tomison, SG Social Security PMD Service Design
- Catherine Henry, SG communities Analysis Division
- Elaine Paterson, SG Social Security Agency Implementation
- Clair Henderson, SG Ill health and Disability Benefits Policy Unit
- Louise Whyte, SG Ill Health and Disability Benefits Policy Unit (Secretariat)
- Elinor Owe, Scottish Government, Justice
- Rosemary McGowan, Citizens Advice Airdrie
- Dr Anne Braidwood, Medical Advisor
- Nicola Dickie, COSLA
- STUC replacement for Ian Tasker still to be identified
Items and actions
Welcome and minute
The Chair welcomed new members Clair Henderson, Senior Policy Manager, Ill Health and Disability Benefits Unit and policy lead for Industrial Injuries Disablement benefit, and Louise Whyte, Policy Officer, Ill Health and Disability Benefits Unit, Scottish Government. Welcome was also extended to guest speakers, Catherine Henry, Communities Analysis Division, Scottish Government and Elaine Paterson, Social Security Agency Implementation, Scottish Government.
The minute of December 2016 was agreed. All action points were cleared. It was agreed that comments on the Inclusive Language paper could be received in writing, as the workshop had been unable to go ahead due to a lack of attendance.
A written policy up-date was circulated prior to the IIDBAG meeting. There were no queries or questions on the paper.
Experience panels update
Catherine Henry, Scottish Government Communities Analysis Division presented on the recently completed research by the experience panels called ‘About your benefits and you’. This research hoped to find out more about people who have signed up for the panels, their interests and experiences. Catherine also outlined the next steps for the experience panels.
There was some discussion about how to widen engagement with the Highlands and Islands.
- TG mentioned that he is currently working with MacMillan Cancer Support in the Western Isles to make links with the Social Enterprise for Community Development. He suggested that he could connect CH with the Community Development Manager, to assist in the recruitment of experience panels
- BD queried the most appropriate method of assisting with recruitment, as they often receive interest from their members and the individuals that they support. CH confirmed that CPAG or other organisations, could share the details of the experience panels with the individuals that they support. Recruitment would re-open in 2018
- TG to share the contact details of the MacMillan Cancer Support Community Development Manager
- CH to share details of the experience panels and how to join in advance of recruitment re-opening in 2018
Elaine gave an overview of the new Agency, its context and ethos:
- it is estimated that 1500 staff will be required for the central hubs in Dundee and Glasgow
- local Delivery will be accessible with the agency aiming to co-locate in places that people already go, such as in council buildings and with other support services
- there is an Agency Operations Reference Group, which has representation from third sector, local authorities, Scottish Government and the public sector
There was some discussion about pre-claims advice and support and how best the Agency could deliver this support:
- the Agency has two-parts to consider: firstly, to the training requirements for staff to ensure they have the right skills, knowledge and approach to delivering this support and secondly, in ensuring that the information provided meets accessibility requirement
- there was also a discussion around the wider point of up-take. It was agreed that people need to know that the Agency exists and of the benefits it will be delivering; therefore, awareness within the general public will be essential
Phyllis mentioned the GAIN network, which has been established by Glasgow City Council, as a possible outlet for the Agency Team to consider when sharing information about the Agency and the support on offer. Phyllis also requested whether Clydeside Action on Asbestos could become involved in or join the Social Security Agency Reference Group. Elaine advised she will look into this request.
- SG to consider feedback as the Agency develops
- Elaine to contact Phyllis to discuss the Agency Operations Reference Group further
CH outlined the background to scrutiny discussions.
The Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group was asked by the Minister for Social Security to develop advice and recommendations on independent scrutiny of Scotland’s social security system.
A short-life workstream was established, from members of the expert group and stakeholder reference groups.
The workstream first met on 18 October, and provided its initial thinking to the Social Security Committee and Minister on 25 October. A stakeholder event took place on 20 November, which members of the IIDBAG were invited to, and a concluding workstream meeting was held on 5 December. Final conclusions and recommendations will be submitted by mid-December.
The workstream agreed that the overall purpose of scrutiny is to improve outcomes for people from the social security system and that the following broad scrutiny functions need to be addressed within the new Scottish system. The final report of the workstream will provide advice on all these aspects:
- scrutiny of social security regulations and the creation of a new independent body in Scotland
- accountability of a new scrutiny body
- scrutiny of employment injury regulations
- general advisory role – provide advice in response to specific request or on own initiative
- scrutiny of guidance
- oversight of standards
- oversight of the Charter’s aims and principles
- scrutiny of UK/Scotland systems interactions and overlap
Future input from the advisory group
An options paper was circulated prior to the Advisory Group meeting to consider the future input from the Advisory Group. The Advisory Group was split into two and smaller, group discussions took place.
It needs to be clear when members are being invited to attend workshops/sessions or meetings as an expert from the IIDBAG. This is to ensure that members know why they have been invited and the ‘hat’ that they need to have on, as there has been some confusion recently due to the number of workshops/sessions and meetings going on across Social Security.
It was agreed by the group that Option 3 would be the preferred approach to future engagement - ‘themed’ workshops throughout the year, based on specific policy topics.
The group also considered whether it would be useful for members to submit experiences, thoughts and comments on each topic two weeks prior to the Advisory Group meeting. It was felt that this would make the best use of the Advisory Group’s time, as the sessions could be structured better.
The group considered that the current ‘core’ membership was still appropriate, but it agreed that wider stakeholders with specific expertise could be invited to join the workshops throughout the year, as and when appropriate.
In their present form, meetings are Scottish Government presenting ideas and progress to the group. Workshops would allow external stakeholders to offer more in terms of contributions.
Although the introduction of workshops may lead to a loss of engagement from the core group, they could also allow for wider participation.
Current meetings are not always relevant to all stakeholders, but it is important that they are kept in the loop so that nothing is missed.
If meetings were more ad-hoc, stakeholders would be more likely to suggest agenda items.
At present, generic information is being repeated across different groups – a new setup could help to avoid this whilst still catching everyone.
The group felt that it is important to continue to build on what’s been done already, without proceedings becoming repetitive. They felt that workshops would be the best approach to achieve this.
Traditional style meetings could still be called as and when necessary.
Next steps and AOB
Both groups fed back to the Chair on the preferred option for future engagement of the IIDBAG. Both groups agreed that Option 3 was the preferred choice.
The Chair outlined future workshops, which had been planned so far for 2018, which members of the IIDBAG will be invited to participate in:
- Residency, Principles and Charter
- Fraud, Error and Debt
(A workshop on Appeals and Re-determinations was held in December)
The Chair also agreed to keep the group updated on planned workshops so that the IIDBAG could see where member’s expertise would be of value.
The Chair thanked the group for their input.
Clair reminded members about the paper circulated across all Stakeholder and Advisory Groups for Social Security on the proposed Policy Position on Appointees and requested that members respond, if they had any thoughts or comments on the proposals.