UNCRC: Embedding Children’s Rights in Public Services Guidance Sub-Group minutes - March 2023

Attendees and apologies

  • Lyndsey Saki (Chair), Scottish Government (LS) 
  • Luiza Leite (Minutes), Scottish Government (LL)
  • Lesleyann Russell, Scottish Government (LR)
  • Fraser Gorn, Scottish Government (FG)
  • Susan Revie, Scottish Government (SR)
  • Anna Munro, Scottish Government (AM) 
  • Felicia Szloboda, Improvement Service (FS)
  • Darren Little, Dumfries and Galloway Council (DL)
  • Dragan Nastic, Unicef (DN) 
  • Sarah Rodger, SOLAR (SR)
  • Grant Trainer, Police Scotland (GT)
  • Rebecca Spillane, Improvement Service (RS) 


  • Gita Sharkey, Scottish Government 
  • Rebekah Cameron-Berry, COSLA 
  • Debby Wason, Public Health Scotland  
  • Tamar Jamieson, Police Scotland 
  • Julie Williams, CCPS 
  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland
  • Vicky Wan, Children’s Parliament  

Items and actions

Welcome, apologies and introductions of first-time attendees

LS welcomed members and noted any apologies received. Debby Wason has taken a new post and will no longer be attending group meetings. LS noted that we will seek a new representative from Public Health Scotland to be invited in the future. 

Review of minutes and action points

Members approved the minutes from the meeting held on 21 February which will later be published on the group page. 

Update on remedial work on Bill 

LS shared the following update with members:

Thursday 16 March was the two year anniversary of the Bill being passed by the Scottish Parliament. To acknowledge the disappointment among stakeholders that we have not yet been able to begin the Parliamentary process of reconsidering the Bill, Ms Haughey has written to the lead Committee - the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee - to provide an update on our engagement with the UKG. Link here: letter-from-the-minister-for-children-and-young-people-16-march-2023.pdf (parliament.scot)

On 9 March, we shared a revised set of amendments with lawyers in the UK Office of the Advocate General that deliver the intentions of Scottish Ministers, whilst taking into account the comments that UK Government lawyers have provided during our period of engagement.

While we do think it is arguable that the section 6 duty is capable of applying to UK Acts in the way that we hoped, we have nonetheless adjusted the provision to demonstrate compromise so that the compatibility duty applies to existing legislation in devolved areas but not to future legislation.

We have also redrafted the amendments to add in a power under which the Scottish Ministers will, with the approval of the Scottish Parliament, be able to extend the compatibility duty to devolved functions created in the future under UK Acts on a case by case basis, should they consider this desirable or necessary. 

We have made clear to the UK Government that we intend to move towards reconsideration of the Bill soon. We have asked that if they have any new and material concerns about these revised amendments, they advise us of this within the next few weeks. 

Assuming that the UK Government meet this deadline and do not express any new and material concerns, we hope to be able to progress to Reconsideration Stage ahead of summer recess.

Ms Haughey has also written an open letter to children and young people which has been published on the SG Participation Blog – Participation Participation - Scottish Government Blog (blogs.gov.scot) 

Members asked whether the reconsideration process would proceed without reassurance from the UK government that they are content with the amendments. LS noted that the UK government is not obliged to reply, however, proceeding without this could result in further challenge. LS explained that ongoing engagement has been in place to mitigate that risk and we hope the UK government will come back to us within the next few weeks. 

Discussion on statutory and practice guidance 

Members agreed at the February meeting that there would be benefits to separating some of the elements of the current draft statutory guidance, that support the embedding of a child rights based approach, into non-statutory or practice guidance. 

The elements which we may wish to include in non-statutory guidance are:

  • child rights based approach section, including: child rights budgeting, participation, CRWIAs, inclusive comms, etc
  • case studies on taking a child rights based approach; and
  • links to other policy areas

LS suggested to briefly introduce a child rights based approach in the statutory guidance, with further detail and support provided in practice guidance. This will allow us to future proof and adapt practice guidance, as new practice is developed around child rights budgeting and the external CRWIA guidance is refreshed. 

LS shared with members the suggested updated contents list for each lot of guidance, highlighting sections which are still being drafted and will be shared with the group in the coming month. 

DN had recently been made aware of a child rights budgeting working group and asked if they are involved in drafting sections of the guidance. This group has not been involved to date, LS will consider that option.

LS welcomed comments from members, particularly focussing on whether there are risks to this proposed split. The following discussion points were captured:

Overall members are supportive of the approach and agreed this will help make statutory guidance more concise.

A question was raised about CRWIA being moved to non-statutory guidance and whether that would imply it is optional and pose a risk of diminishing responsibilities. LS stated that SG intends to encourage use of CRWIAs to support a child rights based approach, however, it would be misleading to public authorities to imply it’s a statutory duty. LS agreed we want to promote the use of CRWIA but the statutory guidance should clarify the duties contained in the Bill.

LR highlighted that this split had a positive impact on the Part 3 guidance.

Messaging around no-statutory guidance and timeline is important to provide reassurance to public authorities. The last lot of guidance was published in 2021 and will now be out of date. LS agreed that the timeline is important for public authorities to know when support is coming. We will work on statutory and non-statutory guidance simultaneously and consider how best to sequence and communicate the support available for public authorities. 

Following support from members it’s likely that this proposed approach of splitting the guidance will go ahead. LS will confirm this with members and share the updated statutory guidance next month.

Action: LS to share final sections of statutory guidance ahead of the next meeting.

Discussion followed on whether this group would continue to oversee both lots of statutory and non-statutory guidance or if there should be different groups. LS agreed to take this away for further discussion. DN has colleagues who may be best suited to inform non-statutory guidance, if they were to be split. 

LS welcomed further case studies from members, particularly noting we don’t have a case study on child rights budgeting, although this may become available further down the line as practice develops. 

DN highlighted that Unicef has a global team working on child rights budgeting with regular meetings taking place. DN has examples of child rights budgeting being practiced in other countries such as Spain and agreed to share further info.

There was brief discussion around terminology, and whether reference should be made to “Infants, Children & Young People”. Members agreed that we may wish to draw attention to this once at the start of the guidance (under “definition of a child”) and highlight any further guidance on working with children in their early years. It was noted that a case study on evolving capacities could be useful here.

DN asked about combined reporting and suggested a case study on this might be useful. LR is aware of a case study we may be able to share soon. In terms of wider combined reporting discussions, LR suggested the Collective Leadership Group may be the best avenue for this.

Action: LS agreed to check if there has been any progress on discussions around reporting in the CLG group.

Any other business and date of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 18 April 2023.

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