Minimum Income Guarantee Steering Group minutes: January 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 25 January 2023.

Attendees and apologies

Strategy Group

  • Shona Robison MSP (SR), Chair, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
  • Caron Lindsay MSP (CL), Scottish Liberal Democrat Party
  • Miles Briggs MSP (MB), Scottish Conservative
  • Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP (PDG), Scottish Labour Party

Expert Group

  • Russell Gunson (RG), Chair, Head of Programmes and Practice at The Robertson Trust
  • Bill Scott (BS), Senior Policy Advisor at Inclusion Scotland
  • Cat Murphy (CM), Executive Director of Engender
  • Chris Birt (CB), Associate Director for Scotland at JRF
  • Ed Pybus (EP), Policy and Parliamentary Officer at CPAG
  • Eireann McAuley (EM), Policy Officer at STUC
  • Fiona Collie (FC), Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers Scotland
  • Gerard McCartney (GM), Professor of Wellbeing Economy at the University of Glasgow
  • Mubin Haq (MH), Chief Executive of ABRDN Financial Fairness Trust
  • Peter Kelly (PK), Director of Poverty Alliance
  • Phillip Whyte (PW), Director of IPPR Scotland
  • Satwat Reham (SRe), Chief Executive of OPFS
  • Tressa Burke (TB), Chief Executive of GDA

Expert by Experience panel members

  • Harper
  • Kieran
  • Ruth


  • Amy Stuart (AS), Employability, Scottish Government
  • Elaine Moir (EM), Financial Wellbeing, Scottish Government
  • Ella Phillips (EPh), Social Security Research and Evaluation, Scottish Government
  • Elizabeth Sloan (ES), Programme Management and Delivery, Scottish Government
  • Evelyn Bowes (EB), Social Security Research and Evaluation, Scottish Government
  • Karen Brown (KB), Fair Work and Labour Market Strategy, Scottish Government
  • Louise MacAllister (LM), Engagement Lead, Involve
  • Paul Traver (PT), Fair Work and Labour Market Strategy, Scottish Government


  • Caitlin Forsyth (CF), Minimum Income Guarantee, Scottish Government
  • Nicola Cowan (NC), Minimum Income Guarantee, Scottish Government
  • Ruth Steele (RS), Minimum Income Guarantee, Scottish Government
  • Seona Carnegie (SC), Minimum Income Guarantee, Scottish Government


  • Maggie Chapman MSP, Scottish Green Party
  • Andy White, Senior Officer at Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership

Items and actions


  • Involve and Secretariat to consider how to share findings and resources across the existing range of relevant lived experience panels and the work on the MIG Expert by Experience Panel
  • CM to consider wording for do no harm principle for inclusion in the key principles of a MIG
  • Members are to provide feedback on the Interim Report and papers 2 and 3 by Monday 6 February

Welcome and introductions

The Cabinet Secretary welcomed members and gave an overview of the planned structure of the meeting. 

Expert by Experience panel

Involve presented slides on the Expert by Experience Panel and gave an overview on the two sessions that have taken place so far. The three members representing the Panel were invited to give their feedback. They noted that they are enjoying being part of the panel where everyone wants the same outcome, the current system does not work and a better one is needed and that there is work to be done to reduce the stigma associated with asking for help and claiming benefits. 

It was suggested that we could link with the Social Justice Committee and Equality and Civil Rights Committee to hear about Expert by Experience panels. There was general consensus, however we need to agree how to best make these links and avoid duplication.

Action: Involve and Secretariat to consider how to share findings and resources across the existing range of relevant lived experience panels and the work on the MIG Expert by Experience Panel. 

It was asked if any members of the panel are disabled as they make up a large proportion of people accessing social security and are disproportionately affected by financial insecurity. Involve reassured the group that disabled members are represented on the panel and more work is underway to understand the panels members personal experience and how this interacts with their financial situation. 

Others questions that were raised :

  • has the issue of younger people getting paid less on UC come up
  • how do we best use the panel as we start to narrow down options
  • the naming – could it be level or payment? It was noted one member felt there could be stigma around the naming of the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG)

The co-development and importance of having the Expert by Experience panel was highlighted to ensure that a MIG s is designed with and for people with experience of financial insecurity. There was discussion around stigma and mental health as barriers to accessing support and the desire to change this as thinking towards a MIG is developed. There was reflection that accountability goes both ways from the MIG policy team and the Expert Group. Both need to be responsive to the recommendations from the Expert by Experience panel to help implement positive change. The Expert Group have been invited to attend future Expert by Experience panels.

Interim Report overview

RG gave an overview of the draft interim report, what it includes and how we got to this stage.

The overall feedback on the report was constructive and positive. Members felt it was a helpful report and were pleased with the level of detail in it. Feedback and questions from members included:

  • current framing reads like a MIG would be a social security payment. However, it is understood that there will be different ways to reach the Minimum Income – the Expert Group will relook at this to make it clearer
  • on the reforming world of work, could the report include analysis on what Scottish Government (SG) is doing and include what else is planned
  •  in particular looking at employability services for disabled people
  • agreed that an easy read version of the final report will be made available
  • could the report say more on gender analysis and intrahousehold inequalities what more research can be done with people with additional costs? Will the Expert Group look to quantify additional costs?
  • the Expert Group may wish to consider including some of what the Experts by Experience panel are saying, for example a section that contains quotes that highlights the struggles they have faced
  • question on changing the legislative basis of Scottish Child Payment and whether it can be topped up for younger people to bridge that gap with Universal Credit (UC)
  • when thinking about childcare have the Expert Group considered the relative merits of systems that provide funded places versus meeting childcare costs through benefit payments?

Gender and equalities issues were a common theme throughout the discussion including particular discussion around household versus individual payments, the focus on “paid work” and the economic value/impact of unpaid work (carers etc) which predominantly falls to women.

The Cabinet Secretary thanked the Expert Group for their work developing the report and the Strategy group for their contributions to the discussion. The Strategy Group members left the meeting. 

Expert Group Interim Report discussion

Drafting Group members spoke through the findings of the level, work and social security workstreams which take up the majority of the draft interim report.

The key discussion points were

  • interaction between labour market and MIG is complex and needs to be further explored. Taper rates and work incentives are also critical and we need harder evidence
  • labour market reforms needed to realise a full MIG – the Expert Group should engage with employers around this issue
  • framing of a MIG and the language is crucial. There remains a misunderstanding that this is for everyone
  • following on from the strategy group discussion it was agreed that more work on gender analysis is needed in the current report. Need to reframe how we talk about work/unpaid work and need to have more around equalities; clarify the presentation of household assessment versus individual payments; exploration on the gender pay gap and gender imbalance of low paid work; intersectionality - e.g. minority ethnic women more likely to be excluded from work
  • collective services caveat needs to be included to say we won’t solve this but we acknowledge problems
  • the report would benefit from an explanation of why a MIG is needed and what we think we can deliver in future. Might be worth setting out a journey towards a MIG suggesting that the level might increase over time and it won’t be in line with the MIS to begin with
  • agreed that additional costs of disability should be separate from the MIG, however we should look at employability more in year 2
  • discussion around the applicability of a MIS in Scotland with particular focus on rural issues
  • agreed that the report should consider potential risks and unintended consequences. CM to consider wording for an additional principle around “do no harm”

Action: CM to consider wording for do no harm principle for inclusion in the key principles of a MIG. 

Need to have a discussion around level and the role of income tax with a MIG.

Any other business

Papers 2 and 3 which look at the Expert Group membership and plans for year two will be considered offline. 

Action: members are to provide feedback on the Interim Report and papers 2 and 3 by Monday 6 February. 

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