- 10 Sep 2021
Welcome and introductions
The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government thanked everyone and welcomed them to the meeting. Introductions took place.
Scottish Government ambitions around Minimum Income Guarantee and the work of the Steering Group
The Cabinet Secretary said that the Scottish Government was committed to commencing work to deliver a Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) in Scotland. It was innovative and ground breaking, and had the potential to reduce poverty and inequality. She recognised, and hoped the group did too, that it would not be possible to deliver change overnight, but it was important to make step changes, using existing powers, as soon as possible where feasible.
The Cabinet Secretary highlighted that taking forward the MIG would rely upon involvement from a variety of experts and stakeholders, including cross-party MSPs and that consensus and collaboration would be key to the successful delivery of this policy.
Background on MIG – work and theory to date
Russell Gunson briefly set out the background to the development of the idea of a MIG in Scotland, touching on the work carried out by the Institute of Public Policy Research Scotland (IPPR Scotland) and the Social Renewal Advisory Board. He presented the concept as a simple idea which had potential to be transformational.
Mr Gunson set out the concept as a universal guarantee that was available to all, akin to the NHS, and similarly, not used by all people all of the time. He noted that this could be achieved through work, social security and reducing living costs.
A wide ranging discussion took place about the statement within the draft remit that the expert group would recruit members who were experts by lived experience. Key points raised included:
- There was the opportunity to draw upon the practices of the Poverty and Inequality Commission’s experience panels
- Clarity was needed about what type of lived experience was sought to be represented. Specific groups mentioned included those with lived experience of poverty; carers; disabled people; people in creative, hospitality or other low paid / insecure employment that had been affected by the pandemic; and people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)
- nany group members offered access to their networks to engage people with lived experience
- there was a need to consider whether involvement would affect people’s financial position / security and how to mitigate this
- the desirability of having more than one person with lived experience on the group was raised
- there was a recognition that a co-production / co-design model could work well in involving people with lived experience; and
- there was acknowledgement of the levels of capacity and resource needed to support the involvement of people with lived experience
Operation and focus of the group
Further discussion took place to ensure that the following points, covering both operational matters and potential subjects of future work, were achievable or addressable by the group within its remit:
- the expert group’s ability to form subgroups to address particular work streams. This would facilitate engagement with groups and agencies who were not represented on the core group. It was agreed that this would be looked at in more detail at the next expert group meeting;
- clarity on whether sign off for discussions would come from the expert group or strategy group. The Cabinet Secretary suggested joint sign off, which was agreed by Russell Gunson;
- the importance of publishing as much as possible of the data and research gathered through the expert group to aide learning and knowledge beyond the Steering Group;
- the ability to interact and align work plans with the Scottish Parliament’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee;
- with regards to individuals with no recourse to public funds (NRPF), the need to be careful that funding or support from MIG would not affect their position/security was considered;
- the importance of promoting the take-up of benefits and the opportunity to examine how a MIG would interact with this;
- the ability to concentrate on priority groups and families as its first step, addressing the need to tackle poverty; and
- the ability to maintain connections to the separate but linked work on Universal Basic Services
The points raised about the operation of the Steering Group, including those around the recruitment of members with lived experience, were felt to be covered or allowed within the flexibilities of the draft remit as it stood, and therefore the remit was approved.
Decision 1: The draft remit was approved.
MIGSG1 Action 1: Remit to be published on the Steering Group’s website.
Action for: Secretariat
Action by: To be published simultaneously with this minute.
Members of the strategy group left the meeting.
Stakeholder engagement update
Callum Smith updated the group on the launch of the invitation for views on the Scottish Government Dialogue Platform. He made clear that this was an initial light touch round of stakeholder engagement which was open for a month and whose outputs, following analysis, would be provided to the expert group in time for their next meeting.
Group members noted that this resource was only accessible to people with digital connections, which worked for the targeted audience i.e. organisations, but we would need to consider different vehicles for engaging, in the future, with the public and people with lived experience.
Ways of working
Russell Gunson set out how he proposed the group should work to drive progress. Key tasks and challenges would be identified and work could be taken forward in subgroups.
It was confirmed that access to Scottish Government resources, within reason, would be afforded to the group, for example to carry out analysis and research.
The group discussed further the role of lived experience, expanding on the points raised under the remit discussion. It was agreed that a strategy/proposal would be developed, covering use of a co-design/co-production model, and circulated to expert group members in advance of the next meeting.
MIGSG1 Action 2: Proposal on lived experience to be circulated by e-mail.
Action for: Secretariat / expert group chair
Action by: In advance of the next meeting.
Group members identified that the following should be kept in consideration as the work developed:
- the work of the group could be divided into what could be achieved under current powers; what could be achieved with small changes; and what could be achieved longer term;
- it would be important not to lose sight of short-term steps/quick wins that could be taken while designing MIG;
- it was important to look at the cost of a MIG, how it would be paid for and what would be the consequence of that for certain groups;
- it was important to look at various design models for a MIG and look at the outcomes and consequences for each model;
- any impact a MIG could have on conditionality for work and benefits;
- the extent to which sanctions, conditionality, intrusiveness etc were driving people to not claim benefits they were entitled to and, therefore, the danger of passporting MIG to existing benefits, particularly when certain groups also fell through the gaps of entitlement;
- the need to consider a variety of financial supports rather than one universal benefit;
- any impact a MIG could have on local government services such as education, training and small business support;
- early work should be carried out by the group to ensure buy-in from the public;
- the group needed to consider what questions to ask of people and what insights they wanted to gain when planning further engagement;
- consideration of the role of taxation in MIG;
- consideration of the role of employers in MIG, and the impact on wage levels;
- consideration of the role of different types of wealth. e.g. people with a low income but housing wealth;
- it was important to maintain links to the separate work going forward on Universal Basic Services; and
- looking at the learning and read across from Council Tax Reduction
Next meeting date and meeting schedule
The group agreed that the next meeting of the expert group would be set for approximately 6 to 8 weeks’ time. There would be a further meeting before the end of the year and, thereafter, meetings would be at approximately two month intervals.
There was no other business.
Summary of decisions
Decision 1: the draft remit was approved.
Summary of actions
MIGSG1 action 1: remit to be published on the Steering Group’s website.
Action for: Secretariat
Action by: to be published simultaneously with this minute.
MIGSG1 action 2: proposal on lived experience to be circulated by e-mail.
Action for: secretariat / expert group chair
Action by: in advance of the next meeting.
Attendees and apologies
Strategy Group members
- Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government (co-chair) (SNP)
- Miles Briggs, MSP (Conservative)
- Maggie Chapman, MSP (Green)
- Pam Duncan-Glancy, MSP (Labour)
Strategy Group nominees
- James Parry (for Lib Dems)
Expert Group members
- Russell Gunson (co-chair) (IPPR)
- Chris Birt (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)
- Tressa Burke (Glasgow Disability Alliance)
- Fiona Collie (Carers Scotland)
- Eilidh Dickson (Engender)
- Mubin Haq (Standard Life Foundation)
- Wendy Hearty (CoSLA)
- Eireann McAuley (STUC)
- Gerry McCartney (CBI Steering Group)
- Ed Pybus (CPAG)
- Andy White (CBI Steering Group)
Expert Group nominees
- Neil Cowan (for Peter Kelly)
- Morag Treanor (for Bill Scott)
- Dawn Abell (SG)
- Elaine Moir (SG)
- Kelly Parry (CoSLA)
- Rachel Statham (IPPR)
- Nicola Radley
- Helen Robertson
- Callum Smith
- Peter Kelly (Poverty Alliance)
- Bill Scott (Poverty and Inequality Commission)