Public appointments: Appointments to the Poverty and Inequality Commission

Public appointments news release.

The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Ms Somerville, announced the appointment of Doctor Peter Cawston, Kim Dams, Taliah Drayak, Paul Fletcher, Louise Hunter, Doctor Ross McQueenie and Rami Okasha as Members of the Poverty and Inequality Commission (the Commission).

The Cabinet Secretary also announced an extension of the appointments of Professor Stephen Sinclair, as Chair, and Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, as a Member, of the Commission.


Professor Stephen Sinclair is Professor of Social Policy and Co-Director of the Scottish Poverty & Inequality Research Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University. He is also Visiting Professor at the University of Parma and previously held posts at Heriot-Watt University and Anglia Ruskin University, as well as the Scottish Executive. Stephen was educated at the University of Strathclyde, University of Oxford and University of Kent. He has over 30 years’ experience of researching and publishing on different aspects of poverty and social welfare policy. Stephen is Chair of the editorial board of the Journal of Poverty & Social Justice and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Social Policy. He is also a member of the Child Poverty Action Group UK Policy Committee and Scottish Advisory Committee.


Doctor Peter Cawston worked as a GP in Drumchapel, Glasgow for 25 years. He has recently left his practice and is now supporting Deep End GP practices in Glasgow as well as taking on a new role supporting remote and rural GP practices. He works as a health inequalities adviser with the Scottish Government Health Inequalities in Primary Care group, and with the Healthcare Improvement Scotland primary care clinical faculty. Peter was the lead clinician on the Deep End Community Link Worker Programme pilot, and was one of the founder members of the Scottish GPs at the Deep End. Throughout his career Peter has been passionate about poverty and health inequalities and about individuals and communities having greater control over those issues which impact on their health.

Kim Dams is CEO of a regional disability organisation in Dumfries and Galloway, called DG Voice, an organisation run by and for disabled people with long-term health conditions. She is also a Non-Executive board member of the local health board and the Integrated Joint Board in Dumfries and Galloway. Additionally, over the last few years she has been volunteering a lot in her free time in the third sector, holding a number of positions such as Co-Convenor of Inclusion Scotland, Board Member of Scottish Rural Action, Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway and the Poverty Alliance. Kim is passionate about intersectionality, equality and human rights and fighting poverty for all people. She has both lived experience of poverty and has worked with many people who are facing poverty and recognises how much of a barrier it is for people to be able to live their lives fully and contribute to society to the best of their abilities.

Taliah Drayak lives in Orkney and is a children and families advocate. She is acutely aware of the challenges and inequalities experienced in rural and island communities. She has been a member of the Promise Oversight board for three years and is committed to keeping the Promise. She has a passion for human rights, children's mental health, disability rights and the care experienced community. She is an author and has spent her career participating in charities focused on tackling poverty and children's rights.

Paul Fletcher is the Chief Executive Officer of Achieve More Scotland, a charity which focuses on supporting children, young people and families living in poverty to improve their life chances. Paul has worked in the charitable sector for 15 years from being a front line volunteer and youth worker to business development manager to Chief Operating Officer and now CEO. He has a wealth of experience in designing, developing and delivering programmes that support and improve the lives of people living in poverty. Originally from Glasgow, Paul has lived most of his life in Lanarkshire and attended the University of Glasgow where he completed both his undergraduate and masters degrees in biomedical based sciences.

Louise Hunter has worked across the third and public sectors for over 20 years, working at a frontline and senior level, as well as having volunteer trustee experience on many charity boards. Louise is currently Chief Executive of Who Cares? Scotland and serves as a member of the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group. Louise brings awareness of poverty and the resulting inequalities, and also a keen focus on social policy reform, to the role of Commissioner. Louise believes that every person in Scotland should be given the opportunities and conditions to thrive, and  is committed to ensuring that the voices of people with lived experience of poverty and inequality are at the forefront of this important work.

Doctor Ross McQueenie is a mixed-methods public health intelligence adviser leading on vaccine inequalities at Public Health Scotland. He authored a landmark paper on inequalities in healthcare access in primary care at the department of General Practice and Primary Care, winning the Royal College of General Practitioners paper of the year in 2019 and transforming the way missed healthcare appointments are viewed in Scotland. He has experience tackling poverty and inequality in public health across multiple groups including those experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage, adverse childhood experiences, multimorbidity, deprivation and victim/survivors of abuse.

Rami Okasha is the Chief Executive of CHAS, Children's Hospices Across Scotland. He leads a team of 400 staff and 700 volunteers who deliver palliative care for children across all settings. In Scotland, children with a life shortening condition are 50% more likely to live in the most deprived areas than the least deprived. Previously, he was the Executive Director of Strategy and Improvement at the Care Inspectorate, the largest scrutiny body in Scotland. There, he was responsible for developing scrutiny, methodology and improvement support approaches across £4 billion of public spending on adult and children's social care. He led the development of the new National Health and Social Care Standards. He is the Chair of the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care and previously served on the Equalities and Human Rights Commission’s Scotland Committee.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick is the Director of the Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research at Heriot-Watt University. Suzanne is a leading international scholar on homelessness. She leads a major programme of work on "Destitution in the UK" for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and she co-led the influential “Hard Edges Scotland" report on severe and multiple disadvantage for the Lankelly-Chase Foundation/Robertson Trust. Suzanne also led/co-led the housing and homelessness strands in the five-year Economic and Social Research Council funded study of “Welfare Conditionality”. She played a significant role in the recent evaluation of the "Social Innovation Partnership" for the Scottish Government/Hunter Foundation.


The appointments of Doctor Peter Cawston, Kim Dams, Taliah Drayak, Louise Hunter, Doctor Ross McQueenie and Rami Okasha will run from 1 July 2024 to 30 June 2028.

Paul Fletcher’s appointment will run from 1 December 2024 until 30 June 2028.

The extended appointments of Professor Stephen Sinclair and Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick will run from 1 July 2024 to 30 June 2028.

The appointments are regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.


The Chair appointment is part-time and attracts a remuneration of £306 per day for a time commitment of up to four days per month. The member appointments are part-time and attract a remuneration of £225 per day for a time commitment of one day per month.

Other ministerial appointments

Kim Dams is a Non-Executive Director of the NHS Dumfries and Galloway Board, for which she receives remuneration of £9,030 per annum, for a time commitment of one day per week.

Professor Stephen Sinclair, Doctor Peter Cawston, Taliah Drayak, Paul Fletcher, Louise Hunter, Doctor Ross McQueenie, Rami Okasha and Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick do not hold any other public appointments.

Political activity

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.  However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity within the last five years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public.   

Doctor Peter Cawston canvassed on behalf of the Scottish Green Party at the last Scottish Parliament elections.

Kim Dams has been a local branch convenor and local branch and constituency association Equality Officer and has acted as election polling and count agent for the SNP over the last five years.

Professor Stephen Sinclair, Taliah Drayak, Paul Fletcher, Louise Hunter, Doctor Ross McQueenie, Rami Okasha and Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick have had no political activity within the last five years.


The Commission was established on 1 July 2019 under Section 8 of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. It is an independent advisory Non-Departmental Public Body that was created in order to support Scottish Ministers to reduce levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017, as amended, sets out the legal functions of the Commission which are to:

  • advise Scottish Ministers on any matter relating to poverty or inequality in Scotland, including the impact of polices and use of resources in reducing such poverty and inequality
  • monitor progress in reducing poverty and inequality in Scotland
  • promote the reduction of poverty and inequality in Scotland
  • provide advice to Ministers on the measures they propose to include in Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plans
  • provide annual comment on progress made towards the child poverty targets set out in the Act, whether progress is sufficient and what further progress is required
  • publish any advice it provides to the Scottish Ministers

In addition to the statutory duties the Commission also has scope to choose areas of focus within its broader remit, subject to these areas contributing to achievement of the outcomes in the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework.

The Commission has a dedicated Secretariat that supports its work and its budget is set and provided by the Scottish Government on an annual basis.

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