1. Child poverty advice and scrutiny
The Panel have worked with the Commission on its advice to Scottish Government on its Child Poverty Delivery Plan as well as scrutinising performance and delivery.
The Poverty and Inequality Commission’s advice to the Scottish Government for its Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-2026.
For this Experts by Experience Panel members:
- Participated in five online Panel meetings with pre-meeting reading and tasks
- Participated in a joint meeting between the Panel and Commissioners
- Completed two digital surveys.
- Co-presented recommendations to the then Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government along with Commissioners.
The advice they provided allowed the Commission to ensure its recommendations were attuned to the lived experience of those in poverty within Scotland. And led to recommendations informed from the insights of the Panel such as:
- Within Social Security a need to shift the burden from individuals being expected to navigate multiple, complex public sector processes to the government making the system simpler for the individual
- Developing employers’ knowledge and skills to recruit and support disabled employees – Panel members recognised a main barrier for employment of disabled people being employer knowledge and attitudes, which could not be overcome by traditional forms of employability support focused upon increasing individual prospective employee confidence, skills and experience
- The importance of making transport more available, affordable and accessible for low income families – recognising transport as an enabler, but also too frequently a barrier for low income households. Panel members emphasised the importance of transport in addressing child poverty in terms of affordability, but particularly accessibility and service improvements in rural areas.
The Commission’s 2022-23 Child Poverty Scrutiny Report to the Scottish Government
Panel members also worked jointly with Commissioners on scrutinising performance of the Scottish Government’s tackling child poverty delivery plan 2022-2026. This process involved:
- Discussion of the delivery plan at an online Panel meeting
- 5 Panel members responding to a call to take part in scrutiny sessions
- Pre-meeting sessions and briefings with Commissioners, Panel members and the Secretariat
- Scrutiny sessions with Scottish Government officials and policy leads in the following policy areas, where Panel members had the opportunity to question officials on policy design and delivery:
Parental Transition Fund
Affordable Housing Supply Programme
Early Learning and Childcare
School Age Childcare
Social Innovation Partnership
Data, monitoring and evaluation
- Panel members then presented feedback and learning from their work to other Panel members at an online Panel meeting
- Panel members also co-presented with Commissioners their reflections on this work and their recommendations at a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice at a Commission meeting in May 2023
Key recommendations that arose from the scrutiny process, included, the need for Scottish Government to:
- Focus on delivery, delivering with urgency and at scale
- Commit to funding the actions required to meet the child poverty targets
- Be clearer about its aims and how these will be successful
- Maximise the impact of its spending
- Improve the transparency in its reporting
The Scottish Child Payment is only one of the many elements in meeting child poverty targets. Clarity, clear direction and focus is now urgently required, in the form of getting single parents into well paid secure jobs, retraining, getting disabled people in work and adequate benefits for those unable to. Along with affordable childcare and adequate affordable housing making up the many pieces of this puzzle; The Scottish Government need to get it right to meet the 2030 Child Poverty Target.
Quote from Experts by Experience Panel member involved in the scrutiny sessions
During this period, another Panel member involved spoke to delegates at the first ever First Minister Anti-Poverty summit and urged decision makers to ‘Be Brave’ to free people living in Scotland from poverty.
2. Panel Priorities
In late 2022, Panel members responded to a survey on what priorities they wished to focus on. Responses indicated disability assistance, fuel poverty, carer poverty and rural poverty as areas for focus. This led to a work plan and Panel members were supported to participate in a number of streams of work, with a range of activities.
A working group of the Panel helped shape a Panel submission to the review of the Adult Disability Payment mobility component with the consultation analysis report recognising the Panel’s valuable contributions.
If as a society we want to be inclusive and champion equality for all then I’m afraid we have a long way to go. If we refuse to listen and acknowledge people with lived experience the benefit system and application procedures will never change for the better
Quote from Adult Disability Payment mobility review working group member
The Panel also engaged with Scottish Government policy leads in both carer benefits and unpaid carers to hear about the work Scottish Government have been doing, but also to tell officials what more they felt should be done. A working group of the Panel also made a submission to a request from the Scottish Commission on Social Security about the draft regulations on the new Carer Support Payment.
I would like to put a challenge to politicians of all parties, to be an unpaid carer for 1 week and see how it is. See the challenges, see how unpredictable it can be and how we need to think on our feet all the time. Note how much work an unpaid carer does to receive the pittance of money given in payment for saving the NHS billions
Quote from Carer Support Payment Regulations review working group member
The Panel also provided lived experience evidence to the Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel to help inform its report on actions that the Scottish Government could take to tackle poverty
A working group of the Panel also made a submission to the Scottish Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament on a call for evidence about the cost of living impact on rural communities.
Participation in all these exercises involved:
- Discussion at regular Panel meetings both online and in-person including engagement with Scottish Government officials
- Panel members volunteering to be members of sub working groups to help shape discussion and submissions in line with deadlines
- Sub-group members meeting online
- Correspondence by e-mail with support from the Secretariat to draft responses
- Presentation by Panel members to their peers at Panel meetings