Violence Against Women and Girls - Independent Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning of Services minutes: September 2022

Minutes from the fifth meeting of the advisory group, held on 13 September 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Lesley Irving

Advisory group attendees

  • Professor Angela O’Hagan

  • Dr Claire Houghton  

  • Katie Cosgrove

  • Katie Kelly

  • Malcolm Chisholm

  • Mukami McCrum

  • Professor Philomena De Lima


  • Jane McAteer

  • Johanna Davidson

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, followed by a review of the minutes from the last meeting. The advisory group (AG) requested a slight amend to the previous minute to improve clarity.


  • Secretariat to circulate updated minutes to the AG for sign-off  prior to uploading these to the review webpage

Call For Evidence (CfE): next steps and wider engagement

The Chair shared some initial high-level findings.

The interim report will be shared with the AG  in late September, which will help to provide the review with a clearer understanding of views on what should be included in VAWG services and a good sense of the solutions as well as the barriers.

The AG discussed when would be the most effective time for members to provide feedback and to also feed in to the data reporting process with comments, for example, on how the data is presented etc. It was agreed that this should happen after the interim report is shared.

The Chair then provided an update on engagement activity with stakeholders, which is going well. Due to the timeline of the review, the engagements will be concluding shortly and are taking place both online and in-person.

Current funding arrangements – presentation on gender budgeting

There was a presentation, followed by a Q and A session.

The presentation outlined definitions and offered a clarity on terms, such as around gender analysis, and how gender budgeting (GB) could be used to frame the report’s recommendations

The AG observed that the idea of GB really resonates and could help shape direction of travel that this review needs in terms of how to recover/reinvest money and access to services ‘early doors’. The idea of participatory budgeting may need further investigation.

The AG noted how important it is that current spending figures need to be up-to-date and maintain an intersectional view too.

The review will need to consider how to provide services for everyone in need, including in rural areas too, as different issues persist for different groups. The group will also look to SG sources to find out what is included in current budgeting as this is not sufficiently clear from reporting.  If VAWG is encompassed in equality budgets, it would be helpful to know all spend related to promoting gender equality. It would also be helpful to understand the SG recovery plan – how does this fit in and tackle the disproportionate demands put upon women and (VAWG)?


  • a small group within the AG to work on GB and take ideas forward
  • to ask Gary Gillespie (Chief Economist) to speak with the group after the first more in-depth analysis on the CfE responses is shared at the end of September

Presentation by East Ayrshire Council on commissioning practices and Q and A

Presentation by representatives from East Ayrshire, followed by a Q and A.

The presentation set out a positive experience of adopting an alternative approach to commissioning practices and the funding application process within one local authority (LA). The original process required organisations to go before a Grants Committee and a lot of work was required to justify requested funding, which could be very intimidating.

The LA worked with procurement to take a different approach, including what women wanted from the service in the service specification. A five year funding project, focused on local need, was introduced which ensured long term planning and continuity. The amount of paperwork involved in reporting was also reduced to make the process more conversational.

All parties felt very strongly that working collaboratively on the service specification and mutually agreeing outcomes that services are reporting against had been very successful. It was also important to be survivor led and to listen to children as well as women.

The AG noted that this was a really encouraging approach and praised all involved. There were questions around what was stopping other LAs from taking this approach and how to encourage others to be brave in taking different commissioning routes forward. The AG noted that the funding process doesn’t always need to follow a certain system but risk taking can hold some back.

Cross-government policy trawl – review of data

The Chair introduced the draft spreadsheet for consideration.

It was felt that it may be more helpful to do a deeper dive on it and revisit key areas  and examine how this tracks through to spend.

The AG mentioned that a policy roundtable event bringing key people together might help where support from analysts can’t fill in gaps.

In areas where there is existing spend, these often didn’t include matters often linked to VAWG such as tackling child poverty, or supporting the mothers of the children. Further areas for the review to consider are around justice, housing, children and families.

The AG will review the spreadsheet in more detail and look at ideas for deeper dives, including returning to areas within the level 4 budget statement which mention VAWG.


  • the AG will send comments to the Secretariat by 26/27 September around taking more of a strategic approach, with the intention of going back to policy teams in January

Agenda for next meeting

The future meeting dates confirmed by the AG are Wednesday 26 October (East Ayreshire) 13:00 to 16:00 and Wednesday 23 November (online) with the time to be confirmed.

Any other business

  • an upcoming Victims Bill Webinar was flagged for interest
  • AG members to provide support with impact assessments
  • Secretariat to send Doodle Poll to AG members to secure a date for a pre-meet ahead of next month’s meeting with the Minister
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