Poverty and Inequality Commission: framework document

Framework document between the Scottish Government and the Poverty and Equality Commission.

Work Plan

The Commission must ensure that a work plan, agreed between the Chair with input from Members, is in place annually. The plan should highlight the key work streams, focus for the following year, outputs that are expected and when these outputs will be produced. The work plan should reflect the Commission’s strategic aims and objectives as agreed with the Scottish Ministers. Where possible, the work plan should demonstrate how the Commission contributes to the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework (NPF). 

The work plan, and any subsequent amendments, should be shared with the sponsor unit to allow sufficient time for response to any actions or responses that arise from the work of the Commission. Sufficient flexibility should be built in to the work plan to account for any current events that require a response or requests from Scottish Ministers to be considered.

A longer term strategic plan, outlining the longer term aims of the Commission, should be developed to supplement short term goals and reviewed as necessary.

Annual report

The Commission will publish an annual report of its activities together with its budget expenditure within three months of the end of each financial year. The annual report should cover the activities of any Committees or working groups formed by the Commission. It should comply with the Government Financial Reporting Manual (FReM) and outline the Commission’s main activities and performance against agreed aims and objectives for the previous financial year.

The draft report should be submitted to the Scottish Government for comment and shared with Ministers prior to publication. Any factual inaccuracies, in relation to budget and other matters, should be addressed before publication. In order to promote transparency, the final version should be made available on the Commission’s website. The Commission shall be responsible for the publication of the annual report.

Budget Management

Paragraph 10 of the schedule of the Act sets out a responsibility on the Scottish Ministers to “provide the Commission with such staff and other resources as it requires to carry out its functions”. As such, the Commission secretariat and the sponsor unit will work jointly to ensure that the Commission has the resources it needs to dispense its functions appropriately.

The Commission will be responsible for managing its own budget. The sponsor unit may provide advice if necessary.

In terms of the budget level set, this default budget level will be based on 2019-20 levels. No automatic uplift for the Commission’s budget will be applied, in line with other public bodies, other than for costs associated with secretariat salaries. The Commission’s budget, outwith secretariat costs, will remain static unless there are strong reasons for increasing or reducing this.

If the Commission identifies a need for increased resource from a future budget or Spending Review, a business case for additional funding should be submitted to the sponsor unit. This will subsequently be considered as a standard part of the budget setting process.

If additional resources are needed in-year, or underspends become apparent, the Commission should raise these, in the first instance, via their ongoing liaison meetings with the sponsor unit.

The budgetary relationship between the Commission’s secretariat and the sponsor unit will be reviewed annually.

Pay and conditions of service, pensions, redundancy and compensation

As above, secretariat staff remain civil servants under the employ of the Scottish Government. Changes to pay and conditions, etc. will be made in line with wider Scottish Government arrangements.

The Commission budget should be reviewed to reflect any changes to staff remuneration.

Budget notification

Each year, in the light of decisions by the Scottish Ministers on the allocation of budgets for the forthcoming financial year, the Scottish Government will send to the Commission a formal statement of its budgetary provision, and a note of any related matters and details of the budget monitoring information required by the Scottish Government. The terms of that letter, referred to as the Budget Allocation and Monitoring letter, should be viewed as complementing the content of this document.  The sponsor unit will support the Commission in its responsibilities around monthly monitoring which is the primary means of in-year budgetary control across the Scottish Government. As such, bodies must comply with the format and timing of the monitoring together with any requests for further information. 

Risk management

The Commission shall ensure that the risks that it faces are dealt with in an appropriate manner, in accordance with relevant aspects of generally recognised best practice in corporate governance, and develop an approach to risk management consistent with the Risk Management section of the SPFM. Reporting arrangements should ensure that the sponsor unit is made aware of relevant risks and how they are being managed. The Commission is also required, at the earliest opportunity, to notify the relevant Scottish Government Audit and Risk Committee if it considers that it has identified a significant problem which may have wider implications.

Organisational security and resilience

As part of risk management arrangements, the Commission shall ensure that it has a clear understanding of the key risks, threats and hazards it may face in the personnel, physical and cyber domains, and take action to ensure appropriate organisational resilience to those risks/threats/hazards. It should have particular regard to the following key sources of information to help guide its approach:

Counter fraud arrangements

The Commission will follow the Scottish Government counter fraud arrangements. Members should raise concerns through the Commission’s whistleblowing procedures in accordance with the Fraud section of the SPFM.

Performance management

The Commission shall operate management information and effective budget management that enables it to review, in a timely and effective manner, its financial and non-financial performance against the strategic aims, objectives and milestones set out in its work and strategic plans. The results of such reviews should be reported on a regular basis to the Commission Members and copied to the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government shall assess the Commission’s performance, proportionately, on a continuous basis and hold a formal review meeting at least twice a year. These will be conducted by the sponsor unit and normally be attended by the Commission Chair (or representative) and secretariat. Additionally the responsible Cabinet Secretary shall meet the Commission Chair quarterly.

Conduct of Members

The Commission is covered by the ethical standards framework by being a listed public body in schedule 3 of the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000.

Commission Members must make sure they are familiar with, and that their actions comply with, the provisions of the Code of Conduct which is based on the ‘Model Code for Members of Devolved Public Bodies’ and has been adopted by the Commission.

Commission staff management

The Commission is not established in a manner which allows it to directly employ its own staff. Therefore, as per paragraph 10 of the schedule to the Act, Scottish Ministers will provide the Commission with such staff and other resources as it requires to carry out its functions.

All staff working for the Commission are civil servants and will be bound by the Civil Service Code and other civil service requirements as to their conduct, impartiality and confidentiality, etc. (Section 4 of the Staff Handbook applies.)

Secretariat staff members owe their primary responsibility to the Commission. It will not be possible for the Scottish Government or the sponsor unit to instruct them in the performance of their duties except as outlined below or with the agreement of the Commission.

The Chair, in discussion with Members, shall outline the key tasks and actions required to the secretariat manager. The Chair and secretariat manager shall review delivery of key objectives on a regular basis – any concerns with staff performance shall be raised with the secretariat manager, if appropriate, or with the Office of the Chief Social Policy Adviser.

Commission Chair and Member Pay

The Chair and Members have been appointed to the Commission through a public appointment round regulated and monitored by the Ethical Standards Commissioner. As such, their pay and conditions are the responsibility of the Public Appointments branch of the Directorate for People within the Scottish Government. 

Remuneration (daily fees), allowances and expenses paid to the Chair and Members must comply with the Scottish Government Pay Policy for Senior Appointments and any specific guidance on such matters issued by the Scottish Ministers.

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