Scottish Commission on Social Security minutes: January 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the SCoSS on 21 January 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Dr Sally Witcher (Chair)
  • Sharon McIntyre (Member)
  • Judith Paterson (Member)
  • Dr Mark Simpson (Member)



  • none

Declarations of interest

  • none

In attendance

  • Fiona Lodge – SCoSS Deputy Secretary
  • Terry Shevlin – SCoSS Lead Secretary (from agenda item 3)

In Attendance for agenda item 3

  • Marta Kuzma - Audit Scotland, Senior Audit
  • Tarryn Wilson-Jones - Audit Scotland, Audit Manager

In Attendance for agenda item 5

  • Vana Anastasiadou – Scottish Government, Economic Adviser
  • Veronica Smith - Scottish Government, Cross-Cutting Policy Officer

Items and actions

1. Welcome and apologies


2. Minutes of the previous Meeting

The minutes of the December Board meeting were agreed.

Action – Secretariat to publish the December board meeting minutes on the SCoSS webpage.

3. Update on recent developments

Members discussed the merits of SCoSS responding to informal requests for views from the Scottish Government, and whether to reflect this issue in the protocol between SCoSS and the Scottish Government.

The Chair updated Members on her participation in a recent roundtable discussion, organised by the new chair of the Social Security Advisory Commission, which involved a range of social security stakeholders.

The Chair also informed Members that she would be stepping down from her role as the chief executive of Inclusion Scotland.

4. Audit Scotland’s annual audit report

The Chair welcomed Marta Kuzma and Tarryn Wilson-Jones to the meeting.

Marta highlighted key elements of Audit Scotland’s annual audit report, which summarises the findings from SCoSS’s 2019-20 audit and presents an agreed action plan for SCoSS to respond to Audit Scotland’s recommendations.

Members sought clarification on certain recommendations in the report, to ensure that there was a shared understanding of the issues to be addressed. The Chair also invited Audit Scotland’s views on the most appropriate role for the Board in ensuring that the recommendations were progressed, taking into account SCoSS’s governance structure.

Action – Secretariat to provide regular progress updates to the Board on the action plan in the annual audit report.

Action - Secretariat to hold a meeting with Audit Scotland to discuss any lessons learned from the 2019-20 audit process.

5. Uprating

Members considered a paper on draft uprating regulations and a draft uprating report, both of which were expected to be formally referred to SCoSS after the Scottish Government published its draft budget on 28 January (‘uprating’ concerns whether and how benefits are increased in line with inflation). Members discussed their approach to the scrutiny process and questions for officials. The Board agreed that the Chair would lead on drafting the scrutiny report on the draft regulations, and agreed that there would be insufficient time to invite views from stakeholders.

The Chair welcomed Vana Anastasiadou and Veronica Smith to the meeting. Officials responded to members’ questions on uprating and committed to providing various points of information after the meeting. 

Action – Secretariat to circulate Scottish Government responses to Members’ questions on uprating.

Action - Sally Witcher to be lead drafter on SCoSS’s report on the uprating draft regulations.

6. Child Disability Payment/ Scottish Child Payment draft regulations: lessons learned

The Board discussed, in line with its commitment to continuous improvement, whether there were any lessons to be learned from SCoSS’s recent scrutiny of the Child Disability Payment (CDP) and Scottish Child Payment (SCP) draft regulations.

Members agreed that a lead drafter should always be appointed for each scrutiny report on draft regulations and that SCoSS’s scrutiny checklist should be updated with any lessons learned.

Action – Board to agree a lead drafter for all future scrutiny reports.

Action – Board/ Secretariat to update the SCoSS scrutiny checklist when any relevant lessons learned are identified. 

7. Complaints Handling Procedure

Members discussed a paper by Mark Simpson and the Secretariat setting out a draft complaints handling procedure (CHP) for SCoSS, based on the model complaints handling procedure (MCHP) produced by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO). Members gave initial feedback on the draft CHP and agreed to provide further feedback by correspondence. Members also discussed whether the MCHP is proportionate for a body such as SCoSS which provides very few services. Members agreed that the Chair should raise this issue with the SPSO, while noting the importance of SCoSS having a formal mechanism for dealing with complaints.

Members agreed that Mark Simpson would be responsible for signing off first stage responses to any complaints received by SCoSS, and that Sally Witcher would undertake any second stage reviews.

Action - Board members to supply any comments on the draft SCoSS complaints handling procedure to Secretariat by 1 February.

Action - Secretariat to action any comments from Board members on the complaints handling procedure then circulate the updated version for clearance by correspondence.

Action - Chair to raise with SPSO whether a more proportionate complaints regime could be established for bodies like SCoSS.

8. Consultation on the Model Code of Conduct

Members considered whether to respond to the Scottish Government’s consultation on proposed amendments to the model code of conduct for members of devolved public bodies.

Members agreed that they would like to respond to the consultation if time permitted and asked the Secretariat to request an extension to the response deadline from the Scottish Government’s Public Bodies Unit.

Action - Secretariat to ask Scottish Government for an extension to the deadline to respond to the model code of conduct consultation.

Action - Time permitting, Sharon Mcintyre and Sally Witcher to draft a response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the model code of conduct

9. Rolling Actions

The Secretariat gave an update on the progress of SCoSS’s new website.

10. Work Plan

Members considered the key work areas in the paper by the Secretariat and agreed to discuss at the March Board meeting the Scottish Government’s consultation on draft adult disability payment regulations.

Action - Secretariat to include an item on draft adult disability payment regulations on the March Board meeting agenda.

11. Any other business

No other business was raised.

Date of the next board meeting: 2/ 3 March 2021.

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