Scottish Commission on Social Security minutes: June 2019

Minutes from the meeting of the SCoSS, on 11 June 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Dr Sally Witcher (Chair)
  • Sharon McIntyre; Judith Paterson
  • Dr Mark Simpson (by video conference)


  • None

In attendance:

  • Lorne Bourhill, Social Security Scotland Communications and Media Manager (for agenda item 5)
  • Nicole Fraser, SCoSS Administrative Officer
  • Julie Guy, Social Security Scotland Principal Social Researcher (for agenda item 4)
  • Fiona Lodge, SCoSS Deputy Secretary (minutes)
  • Jane McAteer, SCoSS Acting Lead Secretary
  • Terry Shevlin, SCoSS Incoming Lead Secretary

Items and actions

1.    Welcome and apologies

2.    Declarations of interest


3.     Young carer grant scrutiny report, scrutiny framework and disability assistance consultation

Commissioners had received positive feedback individually on the Young Carer Grant report from various sources. The group discussed their individual reflections on the process of developing the report.

It was noted that the Commission would probably be called to give evidence to the Social Security Committee on the report, and that a formal response was expected from the Cabinet Secretary shortly.

Action: SCoSS will consider the Cabinet Secretary’s response at the July Board meeting.

It was noted that Scottish Government analysts were processing the responses to the Disability Assistance consultation.

Action: Acting Secretariat to discuss with Disability Assistance officials a timeline for the draft regulations.

4.    Uprating

Members considered a letter from the Cabinet Secretary on the annual uprating of social security assistance. 

SCoSS will be asked to consider draft regulations on uprating in mid-December 2019. In addition, the Cabinet Secretary has asked SCoSS, under the powers in s.22 of the Act, to consider and report on a separate ‘uprating measures report’. This report will likely be provided to the SCoSS in September with a mid-October deadline for response.   

Action: Acting Secretariat to confirm whether the Social Security Committee is aware of the Cabinet Secretary’s letter, and to consider drafting a protocol around the wider practical issues raised by the request made under s.22.  

Action: Acting Secretariat to confirm timelines for the uprating scrutiny process with Scottish Government officials.

The possible measures of inflation that could be used for uprating were raised and background reading was suggested.

Action: Judith Paterson to share background reading on inflation measures from the Houses of Parliament, Office of National Statistics and Scottish Parliament Information Centre.

5.    Charter Measurement Framework

Members discussed the development of a Charter Measurement Framework, which will consider how commitments in the Social Security Charter can be measured or evaluated through data collection.

Members discussed various specific commitments in the Charter, including in the context of the SCoSS having a statutory role to report on how the Charter’s expectations are being met. Members proposed approaches to prioritising the key commitments to measure. 

Members also noted that the SCoSS may wish to undertake further consultation or engagement to inform its approach to utilising the Framework in its work.    

Julie Guy then gave a presentation on Charter measurement, noting the role of the core group in its development.   

Action: Acting Secretariat to consider ways to engage with the Charter Measurement Framework Core Group.

Action: Acting Secretariat to find out further information on Social Security Scotland’s Executive Advisory Board and arrange a meeting with them.

Action: Acting Secretariat to ask Jonathan Wright, Social Security Research and Evaluation Principal Research Officer, to attend a future Board meeting to discuss policy evaluation.

Action: Acting Secretariat to circulate a link to relevant published statistics to Board members.

6.    Corporate values/vision/logo

Lorne Bourhill gave a presentation to the group, introducing themes to stimulate thoughts on ‘buzz words’ to describe SCoSS and inform the development of a corporate logo. Members also discussed the vision, aims and values of the Commission.

Action: Lorne Bourhill to circulate initial thoughts on the logo before the next Board meeting for feedback.

Action: Acting Secretariat to circulate the flipchart output from the corporate values session to help members develop text on SCoSS’s vision and values.  

7.    Corporate documentation

Members considered a paper outlining various corporate documentation that will have to be produced by or on behalf of the SCoSS.

Members requested confirmation of the deadlines for producing the documents. They considered that producing a Framework document would be beneficial to enable shared understanding and manage stakeholders’ expectations. Members expressed a desire to input to the Framework document at an early stage.

Action: Acting Secretariat to clarify the timeline for the production of corporate documents; to bring an early version of the Framework to the July Board meeting; and to circulate a copy of the model framework from the Scottish Public Finance Manual.

The draft code of conduct was discussed and members considered that any areas of ambiguity should be revised before final sign-off.

Action: Acting Secretariat to provide a final sense check on the SCoSS code of conduct, and to check whether the model code of conduct is available in EasyRead or Plain English.

The format of the rolling action sheet was discussed and members made suggestions for improvement to the format.  

Action: Acting Secretariat to reformat the rolling action sheet.  

Members confirmed the need to produce a stakeholder engagement strategy, including mapping and categorisation of key stakeholders.

Action: Acting Secretariat to circulate to Board members a list of stakeholders supplied by the Social Security Directorate; and to bring a paper on stakeholder engagement to the July meeting.

Members discussed the format and content of the draft SCoSS minutes. Following input from members and secretariat, these will be considered again at the July Board meeting.

Action: Acting Secretariat to ask the Public Bodies Unit for advice on whether there are standards for producing minutes.

Members discussed future Board meeting dates and locations.

Action: Acting Secretariat to issue a Doodle Poll to firm up January to April 2020 Board meeting dates.

8.    Any other business

Members thanked Jane McAteer for her work with SCoSS and extended a warm welcome to Terry Shevlin.

Date of the next meeting: Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 July 2019.




Scottish Commission on Social Security
c/o Secretariat
Area 2C South (Mail Point 6)
Victoria Quay
The Shore

Scottish Commission on Social Security

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