Scottish Commission on Social Security minutes: September 2019

Minutes from the meeting of the SCoSS on 10 September 2019.

Attendees and apologies

Welcome and apologies, declarations of interest


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


  • none

In attendance: 

  • Vana Anastasiadou, Communities Analysis Division, Scottish Government (for agenda item 4) 
  • Dr Cheryl Bailey, Analysis and Insights, Social Security Scotland (for agenda item 3)
  • Chris Boyland, Governance and Strategy, Social Security Scotland (for agenda item 3) 
  • Nicole Fraser, SCoSS Administrative Officer
  • Julija Harrasova, Communities Analysis Division, Scottish Government (for agenda item 4) 
  • Donna Hosie, Social Security Statistics, Scottish Government (for agenda item 3)
  • Andy King, Social Security Statistics, Scottish Government (for agenda item 3)
  • Fiona Lodge, SCoSS Deputy Secretary (minutes)
  • Veronica Smith, cross-cutting Policy Officer, Scottish Government (for agenda item 4)
  • Terry Shevlin, SCoSS Lead Secretary

Declarations of interest: 

  • none

Items and actions

Minutes and rolling action sheet

Members suggested minor amendments and agreed the outstanding minutes of the previous meetings awaiting final approval.

Social Security Charter

Officials provided an overview of data that is gathered and collated by Social Security Scotland for the purposes of continuous improvement and reporting on relevant commitments in the Social Security Charter.

Members outlined the SCoSS’s statutory role to report on whether expectations in the Charter are being met. They stressed the critical importance of having a thorough understanding of relevant Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland activity in this area, to allow them to carry out this role effectively. There was discussion of the information that officials could provide to provide clarity on this ‘landscape’.

Members noted the importance of understanding how delivery of the commitments in all parts of the Charter, including part 4 that extends beyond delivery, will be monitored and evaluated. They also questioned how issues in the SCoSS’s report on the Young Carer Grant will be monitored and reported on by the Scottish Government.

Members discussed the merit of running an event with stakeholders, including Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland officials, in the first six months of 2020, to explore how the expectations in the Charter will be monitored and evaluated. The event could focus on some of the issues outlined above.


  • Secretariat to obtain an update from officials on future stakeholder engagement events/ programmes to understand clients’ overall experiences, and how could SCoSS could feed into this work. This will include relevant timelines
  • Secretariat to obtain from officials an update on timelines for new data sources
  • Secretariat to ask officials for information on how relevant Social Security Scotland/ Scottish Government work is to be ‘mapped’
  • Sally Witcher to ask the Social Security Scotland Executive Advisory Board whether SCoSS can access the management information it receives
  • Secretariat to scope out an engagement event in early 2020, that would cover issues around monitoring evaluating all the expectations in the charter and the SCoSS’s duty to report on them

Uprating briefing

Veronica Smith gave a presentation on uprating benefits, building on key issues in the Cabinet Secretary’s letter to the SCoSS of 2nd September 2019, the Uprating Policy Paper and Analytical Report.  

Julija Harrasova gave a presentation on the technical details of uprating, highlighting a recent response from the UK Government on inflation measures discussed in a House of Lords report.

Members explored with officials the different potential measures of inflation and their impact, short-term constraints and longer-term options.  They also queried whether Equality Impact Assessments would be carried out. Members asked officials for clarification on various points, in order to inform the response to the Cabinet Secretary.


  • Secretariat to ask officials for further information on uprating
  • Secretariat to circulate officials’ slides and links to relevant Scottish Parliament debates on uprating

Response to Scottish Government on Uprating

Members discussed the potential structure and content of their response to the Cabinet Secretary’s letter on the uprating measures report. 

The Board agreed to provide a full response in time to inform the Social Security Committee’s forthcoming evidence session with the Cabinet Secretary on uprating.  They further agreed the process for developing and signing off their report in view of the unavoidable absence of two members during some of that period. 


  • Mark Simpson to draft a paragraph on the human rights aspect of uprating
  • Mark Simpson to provide a fact check on issues relating to the Social Security Administration Act 1992
  • Secretariat to prepare a draft uprating response, based on members’ discussion, and to circulate this for consideration and agreement by email

Young Carer Grant 

The Board discussed the forthcoming evidence session with the Social Security Committee (19 September) on its report on the Young Carer Grant draft regulations.


  • Judith Paterson to supply her notes on the Government’s response to SCoSS recommendations on the Young Carer Grant draft regulations
  • Lead Secretary to attend the Social Security Committee evidence session as a witness, with Sally Witcher

Work plan/future agendas

Members asked for the following items to be added to the work plan: a protocol with Scottish Government research officials on SCoSS requests for information, and issues arising from the discussion at agenda item 3, on the Charter.  

Members discussed the merit of holding a consultation event on the forthcoming Scottish Child Payment draft regulations, as the Board understood that the Scottish Government did not intend to hold an open, public consultation on them. In this context, Members also discussed the remaining 2019 Board meeting dates. 


Secretariat to explore options for a possible stakeholder engagement event in November on the Scottish Child Payment draft regulations.

Members asked for forthcoming tasks and timelines to be set out in a Gantt chart.


Secretariat to produce a Gantt chart in future work plan papers.

Rolling action sheet

Members noted the rolling action sheet.   

Any other business/recap


  • members to complete the doodle poll of 2020 meeting dates
  • members to send preferences on the SCoSS logo designs to the Chair by 13 September. Secretariat to follow up

Date of the next meeting: 22 October 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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