Minutes and papers
Welcome and introductions
The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government welcomed everyone to the meeting and led introductions.
The Cabinet Secretary thanked Russell Gunson for the good progress made by the Expert Group. She confirmed that the purpose of the current meeting was for strategy group members to receive and comment upon updates from the expert group’s work to date, with no decisions to be taken.
Expert group update – foundation principles
Russell Gunson gave an update on the development of the Expert Group’s foundation principles, which aimed to provide coherence and a common understanding of what was in the scope of their work, as that group prepared to break into working groups and involve experts by experience. He re-iterated that the Expert Group was a working group and set out the concept of MIG as an umbrella under which an array of potential interventions sit. He highlighted the importance of the support of broad consensus, and welcomed the cross- party support of the work to date.
Mr Gunson talked through the principles and proposed changes following on from the expert group’s discussion. He set out that the principles were not a hierarchy and that they would be revisitable. He highlighted co-design as a key foundation principle.
Strategy Group members welcomed the document and work to date, and recognised the importance of setting parameters. A suggestion was made that when the expert group look at how the level of a MIG would be evaluated, they may wish to take into account how the income thresholds used for Winter Fuel Payment operate for people are on the edge of fuel poverty. It was also suggested that the Expert Group should consider the different needs of rural and urban households in Scotland.
The Expert Group was commended for taking a strategic point of view on equalities from the outset, given the importance of women and other protected groups being able to participate safely financially in society.
Expert group updates
Experts by experience
Mr Gunson introduced the proposal to establish a panel of experts by experience, making clear how the need to do this work inclusively and well, with an eye on long term outcomes, had come through strongly since the first steering group meeting in August.
Strategy group members were interested in how the expert group would help to ensure the panel of experts by experience were appropriately representative of protected groups in Scotland, and how they could ensure that people with the right experience were represented in different parts of the work. They were keen to ensure that an Equality Impact Assessment be built into the tendering process. They were also keen to understand how the successful tenderer would seek to recruit people in poverty or financial insecurity who would not normally engage with, or who may not realise they are entitled to, services.
The Cabinet Secretary said that she thought it was valuable for the expert group to make sure that they are engaging with a wide range of stakeholders beyond “the bubble” that policy development can often take place within.
Mr Gunson highlighted the expertise of group members, and how they would work together in a supportive yet challenging way. He ran through the workplan agreed by the Expert Group at their 9 December meeting, briefly describing the planned workstreams and way of working. He invited comments.
Strategy Group members welcomed the workplan as comprehensive and well set out. A suggestion was made that the needs of care leavers and people with precarious work was considered within the MIG level workstream. Members had suggestions of organisations which could be involved. It was also suggested that alongside considering what could be delivered within existing powers, delivery within existing systems (particularly IT systems) should be considered.
The next Strategy Group meeting will take place before summer recess.
The Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) foundation principles paper, as provided for the expert group meeting of 9 December 2021, is set out at pages two to five of this document.
At the October meeting of the expert group, members agreed that as they developed their working groups, it would be important to have a common understanding of the high-level principles that underpin a MIG. The attached paper was therefore developed, drawing on various sources, for example the Scottish Government’s 2021-22 Programme for Government statement, the report of IPPR Scotland and themes emerging from discussions already taking place in the group. The principles developed are intended to be adaptable to future identified needs, and may be consulted upon and tested with the experts by experience panel once recruited.
The expert group discussed this paper at their meeting of 9 December. They broadly welcomed the principles set out, but had a number of comments and suggestions for improvement. These centred around the following themes:
- more emphasis on MIG being achievable and implementable
- consider more positive and ambitious terminology such as a decent rather than basic standard, ‘dignity and respect’ to tie in with Social Security Scotland
- be more clear about what type of inequality and insecurity a MIG should tackle
- be more clear about whether a MIG can be for all in Scotland
- be more explicit on unintended consequences
- be clearer about whether MIG is a single payment or a suite of interventions
- consider whether it should be defined as a minimum standard of living or a minimum income
Proposed next steps
The paper will be revised to reflect the discussion of 9 December and expert group members will be invited to comment, with an aim to finalising the paper as workstreams get underway, so it can inform the work of the workstreams.
Strategy group consideration
No decisions are required of the group at this stage. Subject to points outlined above, the group may wish to consider whether foundational principles are an appropriate tool for shaping wider work on MIG and, if so, whether the purposes and criteria leading to these proposals are clear and they provide a reasonable working basis for further development. The group may wish to ask the expert group to explain how the principles will be used to inform wider communications and engagement and indeed how they will in turn be informed by such activity
Minimum Income Guarantee: foundation principles
At the previous meeting of the expert group (October 13) members identified the need for an agreed set of high-level principles defining a Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) to guide and inform the work of the group. This paper:
- sets out key questions for discussion about these high-level principles – we have termed these ‘foundation principles’
- provides background on relevant research and findings
- suggests a set of draft foundation principles which the group may wish to consider as a starting point, to be built on through the work of the group
- proposes next steps for wider discussion and engagement
Why do we need high level MIG principles
A key task for the expert group is to define what a MIG means for Scotland and to identify and prioritise action for further development and testing during the course of this Parliament to support the delivery of a MIG. As the expert group develops its working groups it is important to have a common understanding of the high-level principles that underpin a MIG, which are termed foundation principles in this paper. The group will wish to discuss these foundation principles, and in particular whether further work is needed to ensure working groups have a common understanding of a MIG. At the same time the group will wish to discuss whether these foundation principles offer sufficient space for working groups to undertake their work to consider a MIG.
Background on MIG foundation principles
Some direction for high-level MIG principles can be taken from the small pool of existing research on this policy and through recent engagement work. The Scottish Government recently conducted public and stakeholder engagement, through its dialogue platform, to help direct subsequent policy development for a MIG. The key themes to emerge from this are engagement centred around adequacy, responsiveness and accessibility.
The Scottish Government’s 2021-22 Programme for Government also acknowledged the importance of this work in securing a fairer and more equal Scotland, noting that a MIG “could be revolutionary in the fight against poverty, an assurance that no one will fall below a set income level which allows them to live a dignified life, delivered through targeted payments and other types of support or services provided or subsidised by the state”
Further to this, it is worth considering the principles for a MIG identified in the IPPR Scotland report, published March 2021, ‘Securing a living income in Scotland’. This paper is the most comprehensive independent work to date on what a MIG in Scotland could look like, and it contains some proposed key principles for this policy.
a MIG should be a universal guarantee, delivered through a targeted payment
a MIG should aim to realise a minimum acceptable standard of living for everyone, recognising different needs
a MIG should be designed to reduce poverty, inequality, and insecurity, as a payment people can rely on
Draft foundation principles
Paragraphs seven to fifteen set out nine draft foundation principles, which the group is invited to discuss as a starting point for development work. These foundation principles will be subject to continuous review as the work of the MIG expert group develops. The group is invited to discuss these draft foundation principles and to consider whether they are helpful to ensuring a shared understanding of a MIG as working groups get started.
A MIG is:
A guaranteed level of income beneath which no one would fall
Existing literature on a MIG anticipates that it sets a universal guarantee of a minimum income that would be delivered through (i) action to reduce costs and provide collective services (such as a universal basic service approach, which is being explored elsewhere) (ii) work and other existing income (such as existing social security payments not considered part of a MIG, e.g. pensions or Child Benefit) and (iii) through a new targeted MIG payment (or range of payments) to ensure everyone reaches the guaranteed minimum income level.
A minimum income set to ensure an acceptable basic standard of living
Existing literature on the issue states that a MIG should be set at an income level which allows people in Scotland to live a dignified life. The proposed work plan suggests a working group which will look at the level a MIG should be set. The expert group may want to consider what an acceptable basic standard of living looks like and how a minimum income is defined.
Intended to tackle poverty, inequality and insecurity
The IPPR report states that a MIG should be designed to reduce poverty, inequality and insecurity in Scotland. As such, the expert group may wish to consider how a MIG can be designed to further these aims, and to measure the success of policy changes that aim to further this end.
Accessible to all
The expert group may wish to consider how to ensure a MIG is accessible to everyone, as well as how this will be presented to the public. Further consideration will be undertaken around take-up of payments delivered through a MIG and the full range of equalities and inclusion issues, including how a MIG will work with people without recourse to public funds.
Co-ordinated, across government and beyond
The expert group may wish to consider how a comprehensive suite of policies under the MIG umbrella could be coordinated in an effective manner within government and beyond government. This should include consideration of how a targeted payment for those who fall below set income thresholds sits alongside other interventions such as the tax system, existing social security system, provision of basic services, and measures taken by non-state actors, including employers offering real living wages, living hours and progression.
Designed to recognise distinct needs
The different needs of people and families across Scotland should be examined by the MIG expert group and should include consideration of the distinct needs of disabled people, those with caring responsibilities, single parent families and people living in remote and island communities.
Co-designed by those who may benefit from it
The expert group will place direct experience at its heart through the creation of a new experts by experience panel. The working groups will also be tasked with ensuring experts by experience are design partners to ensure the principle of co-production runs throughout the work of the expert group. A MIG will only be successful if it is co-designed with those with experience of poverty and financial insecurity.
Supported by a broad coalition of support among the general public, stakeholders and within parliament
The MIG Steering Group sees cross-party involvement in its work and a broad range of stakeholder representatives on the expert group. The expert group work plan also places a priority on understanding and building support among the general public for plans for a MIG.
Implementable: through first steps taken under existing powers, with further steps and powers outlined as necessary
The MIG Steering Group will want to consider how a MIG could be implemented, to ensure its work makes a difference to policy in Scotland through first steps in the short-term, and over the long-term. This will ensure – in line with remit – a strong focus on first steps to delivering a MIG possible through existing powers. At the same time, again in line with remit the steering group will consider any further powers necessary to deliver further action to implement a full MIG.
The group is asked to discuss and agree these foundation principles as it begins to develop its working groups. In addition, the group will wish to consider whether any consultation on these foundation principles is necessary at this stage. Next steps could include publishing a discussion paper and. in particular, testing these foundation principles with experts by experience once arrangements are established.
The experts by experience proposal paper, a meeting paper for the expert group meeting of 9 December 2021, is set out at ages two to five of this paper.
The Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) Steering Group remit sets out a commitment to inclusion of experts by experience in the work of the expert group. At the initial meeting of the full MIG Steering Group in August members made it clear that a robust, supportive and effective approach was needed for the inclusion of experts by experience in the work of the group.
A paper was produced for the 17 October meeting of the expert group which set out options and, following discussion, members decided to take an approach where a new panel would be established to run alongside the expert group and provide lived experience. To provide more detail around that, a paper was produced for the 9 December meeting of the expert group. Members discussed this and accepted the following proposal:
“It is recommended that the MIG Steering Group establish a panel of ten to fifteen experts by experience. The panel will put forward two representatives for each meeting of the expert group and meetings of the MIG Steering Group”.
The Scottish Government will initiate the tender process to recruit the panel, as set out in the proposal paper.
No decisions are required at this stage. However, the group will wish to note the work to date on developing an approach to recruiting experts by experience to the expert group and consider whether the rationale is clear and appropriate and the proposed approach meets those requirements.
Proposal for recruiting a panel of experts by experience
This paper details a proposal for recruiting and including a panel of experts by lived experience of poverty and financial insecurity, to support and direct the work of the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) Steering Group.
The MIG Steering Group was established and held its first meeting on 17 August 2021, having been set up to commence work to deliver a MIG for Scotland. The group is comprised of a Strategy Group, comprised of MSPs and an expert group, comprised of individuals with insight and experience in fields and issues relevant to a MIG.
The expert group will be responsible for exploring the scope and ambition of a Minimum Income Guarantee, including considering work to date, addressing how existing powers can be used to deliver a MIG and identifying priorities for action both for the course of this Parliament and beyond.
The remit for the MIG Steering Group specifies that the expert group will include at least one member who is an expert by lived experience. Members of the expert group are decided upon by the expert group chair and may include people with lived experience relevant to the work of the group, for example of poverty or financial insecurity. The remit also states that members of the expert group who are recruited as individuals on the basis of their lived experience will be appropriately reimbursed for their time and efforts in line with Scottish Government policies.
During the MIG Steering Group meetings of 17 August and 13 October, the group discussed the importance of ensuring that the participation of experts by experience is meaningful and effective and explored potential approaches. These approaches are detailed in Annex A. Following this discussion it was agreed that the secretariat for the group would produce a paper detailing a final proposal for recruiting members of the group who are experts by virtue of their lived experience, and that this would be shared and agreed in advance of the next meeting of the expert group on 9 December.
Rationale and purpose
As detailed in the National Standards for Community Engagement’s Inclusion guidance, it is important to involve people and groups who are affected by a prospective policy at the earliest opportunity. Their experiences can give a unique perspective on the impact (intended or otherwise) of current or future policies, and can help decision makers understand best to implement change.
There are also strong ethical grounds for adopting the practices of co-production for this policy development. The development and delivery of a MIG has the potential to be a truly transformative undertaking and could have significant effects on many people across Scotland particularly those with lived experience of poverty, insecurity and inequality. Given the broad scope and high-profile nature of this work, drawing upon experts by experience will allow for a better quality of decision making and provide a means of empowering individuals and communities.
It is recommended that the MIG Steering Group establish a panel of ten to fifteen experts by experience. The panel will put forward two representatives for each meeting of the expert group and meetings of the MIG Steering Group. This approach supports representation of diverse experiences of poverty and inequality in Scotland. The Scottish Government will tender for the for the recruitment and support of a panel of experts by lived experience
The recommended approach will ensure that the recruitment of the members of the panel is undertaken appropriately, that barriers to participation are removed and encourage applications from people with a wide variety of backgrounds and characteristics. It will also provide support to members of the panel to access the necessary expertise regarding accessibility and equality.
Although they will meet in distinct manners, members of the panel will be equals to other members of the expert group and will be expected to attend meetings, provide input and shape the development of recommendations for a MIG.
In projects that are led by a steering group such as this (rather than those where a project already exists and requires expert oversight), there may be issues with group members having undeniable commercial expertise but being unable to tender for work where they also shape the requirement. The usual way of resolving this is by ensuring separation between organisations who contribute to the final requirement, and those who wish to tender for work. Accordingly, any members of the MIG expert group representing an organisation who may wish to conduct the work on commercial terms should withdraw from further discussion, until it is clear they are not in contention for the tender.
The secretariat will draft tender documents by early-January, with aim to have the tender open before the end of January. The chair of the expert group and the secretariat will review the applications to determine the successful applicants. We will aim for recruitment to be completed before the end of Quater one 2022.
Support to experts by experience
Where necessary successful applicants who require hardware to participate in the work of the panel will have this provided by the Scottish Government, with either Chromebooks or Wi-Fi dongles as required.
In accordance with the MIG Steering Group remit, people who have been recruited because of their lived experience will be reimbursed for their time via vouchers of their choice. In line with the approach taken by the Policy and Inequality Commission we propose that we offer a voucher worth £50 for each meeting of the panel and each time a representative from the panel attends a meeting of the expert group or MIG Steering Group.
Remit of experts by experience panel
Once established, the panel will be supported to produce their own terms of reference.
It is anticipated that once established the panel will meet on a bimonthly basis, in advance of the expert group meetings, to review papers and to discuss which members of the panel will attend the next group meeting.
Two or more members of the panel will attend each meeting of the expert group or full MIG Steering Group. The panel members will vote to agree upon which members will attend each meeting, giving consideration to capacity and specific expertise that relates to the agenda of the upcoming meeting.
Secretariat will provide support to the members of the panel prior to and during meetings, ensuring that papers are sent to members at least a week in advance of meetings and that papers and easy read copies are available where required. It may be necessary to draw upon additional resource to provide adequate support to the panel members, expert group members may be called upon to provide expertise and capacity if required.
That the group considers and accepts this proposal.
During the 13 October meeting of the expert group, members of the group discussed five approaches for recruiting and supporting experts by experience. The options considered are detailed below.
The first option was to have the expert group directly recruit two or more members of the public to sit on the group as members, drawing upon their expertise by lived experience of poverty and/or financial insecurity.
The second option was to draw upon existing panels used by other Committees and Steering Groups to engage directly with their members and use this as a means by which to get representation on the expert group.
The third option was for the Scottish Government to set up, sing in-house capacity, a new panel of experts by experience of poverty and financial insecurity expressly for the purpose of supporting this work, and then having the panel nominate two members to take seats on the expert group, to represent the views and contributions of the panel. In this scenario the Scottish Government would provide resource to recruit and support the panel and appropriate reimbursement for people’s time and effort.
The fourth option was for a range of organisations represented on the expert group to draw upon their expertise and resources of their organisations to use in-kind support to set up a panel of experts by experience, designed as in Paragraph 9, but external to the Scottish Government. This panel would then nominate two members to take seats on the expert group to represent the views and contributions of the panel. In this scenario the Scottish Government would reimburse the time and effort of panel members but the time to recruit and support the panel would be provided in-kind by member organisations.
The fifth option involved the Scottish Government considering providing financial resources to tender for an external organisation[s] to recruit, develop and support an experts by experience panel, in relation to poverty and financial insecurity, to sit alongside the expert group. One or two members of this group would then be supported to take part in expert group meetings and the panel would be an important resource for the group and potentially sub-groups as the work progresses.
The most recent work plan paper, provided as a paper for the expert group meeting of 9 December 2021, is set out at pages three to seven of this document.
The work plan has been developed with the aim of delivering the remit set for the group. An earlier version, and accompanying ways of working, was discussed at the October meeting of the expert group. The present version was developed following input from members, who asked for items on uprating, dependencies on the UK system, piloting and evaluation and equalities to be added to the draft plan.
The work plan sets out the workstreams that are proposed to run over the next two years, which will be the key drivers of specific pieces of work around a Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG). Workstreams will be formed of sub groups of expert group members. The way of working acknowledges that taking forward work towards a MIG will rely upon involvement from a variety of experts and stakeholders, and workstreams will be able to seek engagement with groups and agencies who are not represented on the core group. Input from people with lived experience will also be sought.
At the December meeting, members asked for some revisions to the language of work plan around equalities. These changes will be made and an updated copy will be recirculated before the end of the year.
In advance of the December meeting, individual expert group members had been approached to ask them to become leads / key members of specific workstreams. The assignment of members to workstreams will now be finalised, and initial meetings of workstreams set up, with the intention that workstreams will meet between expert group meetings, which they will then report back to.
No decisions are required of the strategy group at this stage. The group will wish to note the proposed workstreams and ways of working and consider whether these are appropriate in line with the remit set for the group, and whether there are any gaps or particular areas for prioritisation.
Minimum Income Guarantee work plan
Key ways of workstream working
- the overall aim of the workstreams is to progress the remit of the group
- workstreams report back to the expert group, who can look at the big picture, make links, mitigate any pressures and difficulties, and ensure the work of the group as a whole is coherent, this will also ensure consistency when providing the group’s advice and recommendations, the strategy group will then, in turn, review the outputs of the expert group
- the work of the workstreams can and likely will overlap
- secretariat support will be provided to organise meetings and develop papers and outputs from the workstreams
- workstreams can run simultaneously after taking into consideration dependencies on outputs of other workstreams, capacity of members to participate and the secretariat to support
- every workstream will need at least two or three ‘required’ members with all expert group members ‘optional’ meaning members are free to take part in workstreams as their interest and capacity allows, this will be based on members’ areas of interest, experience and expertise, identifying and utilising the skills and experience that group members bring flows from a key principle of ensuring efficiency and effectiveness
- external people and organisations can be brought in as necessary, including experts by experience, all workstreams will be tasked with considering who else is needed
- the whole group will agree MIG principles, to be applied across all workstreams a principles paper will be considered at the December 2021 meeting, this is scheduled as the first piece of work to agree on and will ensure each workstream is working to a coherent set of principles as to what a MIG is and what it is not this can be thought of as ‘workstream zero’ because it needs to be completed in advance of the majority of other workstreams’ work getting too far underway
- all workstreams to establish their approach to equalities in accordance with the output of the equalities workstream (see below)
- all workstreams to establish their approach to direct experience general public
Building on the draft plan from the October 2021 expert group meeting
At the October meeting, suggestions were made for addition of the following to the draft work plan:
- approaches for updating and uprating minimum income standards, this has been added to workstream two on setting a MIG level
- mapping out dependencies on UK systems, this has been added to workstream six on steps to MIG through existing powers
- piloting, including building in evaluation at an early stage, in acknowledgement of members’ experience of the need to begin this type of work early, we have brought this workstream forward to begin in year one
- equalities, it was clear from group discussion that the needs of protected characteristic groups need to be considered in every workstream, a separate workstream for equalities will be formed (workstream one), its initial work will be of short duration, to establish principles that will apply across all workstreams and develop a living document which will inform the work of every workstream, its ongoing work would be to maintain that document
Document to be produced for December 2021 meeting. If members are content to sign off the document at that meeting, and the strategy group thereafter, this workstream will be considered concluded at that point. If further work is required we will convene a rapid workstream to conclude the work.
This is different in nature to other workstreams as it’s about building a living document with a repository of questions and answers, so may not need many meetings beyond an initial one. Then mainstreaming across all streams and keeping the document up to date.
- members would need to consider the need for commissioning
- what should a MIS be in Scotland in general, for different household types in Scotland (including priority families)?
- any geographical variations
- should a MIG cover 100% of MIS for all, or less for all (or some)?
- how should housing, caring, childcare and disability costs be considered as part of a MIG?
- approaches for updating and uprating Minimum Income Standards
Delivering a MIG – social security
- how should MIG need be assessed?
- how should MIG be paid?
- are there options for a time-limited MIG as part of roll-out?
- would a pilot or roll-out prioritise some groups first (carers, care experienced, priority families etc.)?
Delivering a MIG – work
- what role can reform of the world of work have in delivering a MIG in Scotland?
- what impact could increased pay and guaranteed hours have on delivering a MIG?
- what contribution should employers make to a MIG?
- would a MIG have an effect on wages (positive or negative), and if so from what level?
- would a MIG have other effects on work including incentives in relation to pay, hours and progression?
Cost and impact of MIG
- commissioning is likely to be required, either Scottish Government or external
- set out costings for a range of MIG levels and range of designs
- carry out an analysis of the potential impacts of these on poverty (including priority families), inequality and destitution
- consider whether any macro-analysis is possible
Steps to MIG through existing powers
- consider income adequacy and income security
- consider work and cost-side aspects of MIG
- identify steps which could be taken over the next few years
Further powers to deliver a MIG
- commissioning is likely to be required, either Scottish Government or external
- consider legislative powers on social security
- consider employment law
- look at pathways to implementation and delivery through different agencies
- consider tax and borrowing
Paying for a MIG
- commissioning is likely to be required, either Scottish Government or external
- consider tax and borrowing
Paying for a MIG
- year one needs to wait for progress from workstreams one to four
- external commissioning may be required
- explore the feasibility of piloting a MIG through existing powers
A MIG implementation plan
- first steps to a MIG under existing powers
- next steps with further flexibility/powers
- final steps towards a full MIG
Public opinion around MIG
- consider the need to commission externally
- direct experience around MIG
- polling and other work with general public on their views, framing and gaining support for a MIG (polling, focus groups, panels and assemblies to be considered)
- explore polling and other work being carried out by external organisations
- identify external organisations that could be well-placed to undertake this work
- make internal Scottish Government links to support this
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback