Population Taskforce minutes: November 2022

Minutes of the meeting on 9 November 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Angus Robertson, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture (chair), (AR)
  • Neil Gray, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development (NG)
  • Christina McKelvie, Minister for Equalities and Older People (in place of the Cabinet Secretary for Housing, Social Justice, and Local Government) (CK)
  • Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment and Training (JH)
  • Maree Todd, Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport (MT)
  • Tom Arthur, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth (TA)
  • Jenny Gilruth, Minister for Transport (JG)
  • Richard Lochhead, Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Training (RL)
  • Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenant’s Rights (PH)
  • Eleanor Passmore, Deputy Director Early Learning and Childcare (EP)
  • Robin Lee, Strategic Insights Unit Policy Adviser (RL)
  • Scott Wightman, Director for External Affairs (SW)
  • Sarah Ormerod, Population Strategic Comms Lead (SO)
  • Rachel Sunderland, Deputy Director, Migration and Population (RS)
  • Mike Andrews, Population Team Leader (secretariat) (MA)
  • Ben Jones, Deputy Population Programme Manager (secretariat)
  • Lauren Smith, Population Policy Officer (secretariat)
  • Maria Crespo, Population Policy Officer (secretariat)


  • Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care
  • Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Housing, Social Justice, and Local Government
  • Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands
  • Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy, and Transport
  • Claire Haughey, Minister for Children and Young People
  • Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise

Items and actions

Welcome and introductory remarks

AR thanked everyone for their attendance and welcomed them to the meeting. AR gave an overview of recent progress within the Population Programme, such as the publication of the Rural Visa Pilot proposal and international engagement on depopulation.

Demographic change and fiscal sustainability

TA presented a paper on work on future demographic change and its impact on fiscal sustainability. EP then presented a case study on how demographic changes were considered as part of decision-making within the Early Learning and Childcare portfolio.

Members highlighted the need to ensure that rights and equalities considerations were embedded within budgetary decisions in the context of broader economic challenges.

The challenge of raising more revenue was also highlighted, in the context of a changing labour market while delivering NSET, moving towards Net Zero, and attracting people to higher paid employment opportunities.

Taskforce also discussed labour and housing shortages in rural Scotland and the need for interventions to address challenges, with a risk that within the Scottish context, Edinburgh and the Lothians became similar to ‘magnet cities’ elsewhere. It was noted that work is being taken forward within this workstream about local services within local authority areas which are experiencing different population trends, and how these lessons might apply more broadly.

Work on ensuring consistency between qualifications relating to childcare and care for the elderly to achieve flexibility within the workforce was also highlighted. Provision of childcare was noted as a key element in rural and remote areas to allow those with children to work.

Taskforce agreed next steps outlined by TA, including further work on the impact on local services from changing demographic profiles within local authority areas.

Healthy Living workstream update

MT presented a paper on projects within the Population Health directorate which relate to, and support the Healthy Living workstream of the Population Strategy.

Members highlighted housing as a key topic in the context of the Healthy Living workstream, e.g. in relation to 20 minute neighbourhoods, poverty alleviation schemes, and adaptable homes for those who require them. Members also mentioned a need to explore possible links between Health and other policy areas, such as the Wellbeing Economy and Transport.

It was noted that Population officials engage frequently with Housing policy officials on the Remote, Rural and Island Housing Action Plan, and in the current development of the Addressing Depopulation Action Plan.

Action: Population officials to engage with officials in Housing and Transport policy, with a view to those policy areas contributing to the cross-cutting work of the Ministerial Population Taskforce in 2023.

Action: Health officials to liaise with Population and Housing officials to ensure work underway within Population Health aligns with Housing policy.

Programme communications

SO presented an update on the development of a population communications strategy. The Board emphasised the need to be joined up about communications activity, especially at the local level, involving key delivery partners such as COSLA and local authorities.

Talent Attraction and Migration Service

A brief update was given around the appointment of a delivery partner for the Talent Attraction and Migration Service.  Further details would be provided to the Taskforce at future meetings.


AR thanked everyone for their attendance and closed the meeting.

Back to top