Public appointments: new Chair and Members appointed to the Poverty and Inequality Commission

Public appointments news release.

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The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Ms Somerville, announced the appointment of Professor Stephen Sinclair as Chair and Tressa Burke and Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick as Members of the Poverty and Inequality Commission (the Commission) on a short-term basis.


Professor Stephen Sinclair has a long standing interest in social policy, particularly in child poverty, which predates his first academic appointment in 1994. He has authored and contributed to several books on different aspects of poverty and social policy and published numerous academic papers on these subjects. He is currently Professor of Social Policy and Co-director of the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University, and also a Visiting Professor at the University of Parma. Stephen has been a member of both the UK Policy Committee and Scottish Advisory Committee of Child Poverty Action Group since 2015. He is Chair of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Social Policy, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the Economic and Social Research Council, Peer Review College and consultant to the National Science Centre of Poland.


Tressa Burke is a lifelong campaigner for disabled people’s human rights, devoting her career to promoting participation and inclusion for all. A disabled person herself, she was a founding member of Glasgow Disability Alliance in 2001, and five years later was appointed CEO. Tressa has taken the organisation from strength to strength over the past two decades, remaining true to the initial vision of combating social isolation and focusing, above all, on developing and drawing on disabled people’s own strengths and building a community of peer support and identity which members say has never been more needed. Tressa works in collaboration with both Glasgow City Council and Scottish Government across a range of areas including the National Care Service, Minimum income Guarantee, Social Isolation and Loneliness, Participation, and the First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls. She also lends her experience and expertise to the Open University’s External Advisory Group, New Gorbals Housing Association and Self Directed Support Scotland. In all these collaborations she shares disabled people’s lived experiences and creates opportunities for their direct participation in policy development and service design. Tressa has an MA (Hons) in Music and Philosophy and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Glasgow, specialising in community development. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Open University in June 2022 in recognition of her commitment to public services and her exceptional contribution as a campaigner for equality and human rights to improve the lives of disabled people.

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 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.


Professor Stephen Sinclair’s appointment will run from 12 November 2023 to 30 June 2024. Tressa Burke and Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick’s appointments will run from 11 November 2023 to 30 June 2024.

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 appointment is part-time and attracts a remuneration of £225 per day for a time commitment of one day per month.

Other ministerial appointments

Professor Stephen Sinclair, Tressa Burke 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.   

Professor Stephen Sinclair, Tressa Burke 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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