Social Renewal Advisory Board: our response

The Scottish Government’s initial response to the Social Renewal Advisory Board’s Report “If not now, when?”.

Social Renewal Advisory Board

The Scottish Government established the Board in June 2020 and, in its initial phase, it was chaired by Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, and Shirley Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People. The Board was brought together to build on the shifts in policy and practice that we have seen as a result of working across portfolios and in partnership with frontline service deliverers in Local Government, the third sector and communities.

The Cabinet Secretaries asked the Board, which included representation from the third sector, think-tanks, academics, equality representative organisations and Local Government, to draw up proposals for how Scotland might emerge from the pandemic with a view to becoming a socially renewed country – by reducing poverty and disadvantage, embedding a human-rights based approach and advancing equality. A first phase of work informed proposals which were taken into the Programme for Government (September 2020)[4]. The Cabinet Secretaries then stepped back, enabling the Board to produce its final report independent of government.

The Board's discussions were informed by the work of nine 'policy circles' that were each tasked with working at pace on recommendations and solutions. The circles were specific groups, working on key policy issues: age and disability, addressing low income, community-led and place based renewal, cross-cutting delivery, financial security, food, the housing system, third sector and volunteering.

In addition, the Board placed people's lived experience at the heart of its work. It supported communities – both of place and of identity – and those who faced poverty and disadvantage to engage and have their voices heard. Community Listening Events were held in 31 local authorities across Scotland, where people were asked what the impact of the pandemic had been for them, how it had changed their lives and what they wanted to see from their lives post pandemic. Four equality focus groups were held involving women, disabled people, older people and young people and four discussion sessions took place with Poverty Truth Commission groups in Shetland, Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow. Finally, the Board had an open "call for ideas" to which it received 100 responses from across Scotland. Half of these were from national organisations and the other half were from local organisations or groups.

We would like to thank everyone who took part in the significant work of the Board, the value of their contribution cannot be understated. The report would simply not be the same without their commitment, effort and insights. The Board's lived experience work also helped inform and enrich the joint Scottish Government and COSLA report on Scotland's Wellbeing: The Impact of COVID-19[5], with direct quotes from participants featuring in that report.

On 21 January 2021, the Board brought together all of this work and published its report "If not now, when?". The report sets out a bold vision for how Scotland might emerge from this current crisis with a direction of travel towards a radically fairer future. There are 20 main Calls to Action sitting above 75 sub-actions, across the themes of Money and Work (everyone should have a basic level of income from employment and social security), People, Rights and Advancing Equality (everyone should see their rights realised and have access to a range of basic rights, goods and services) and Communities and Collective Endeavour (we need to work together to deliver a fairer society and we need to give more power to communities).



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