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The Children's Panel - life changing

Governance

Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) was established as a public body by the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) 2011 Act in July 2011. Under the Act, CHS has the primary statutory function of supporting the delivery of National Convener functions associated with the recruitment, selection, training, retention and support of panel members.

As a public body, CHS is governed by a Board of non-executive members which is accountable to Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament through the Scottish Government Education Department. The Scottish Minister with responsibility for the Children’s Hearings System is Mark McDonald, Minister for Childcare and Early Years. Within the Scottish Government, sponsorship responsibility for CHS rests with the Children, Young People and Social Care Directorate’s Workforce and Capacity Issues Division.

CHS’ governance arrangements are laid out in its framework document. It sets out the broad framework within which CHS will operate and defines key roles and responsibilities which underpin the relationship between CHS and the Scottish Government.

Here is a summary of CHS’ main obligations under the framework document:  

Board

CHS has a Board which meets formally at least four times a year to establish the overall strategic direction of CHS within the policy, planning and resources framework determined by the Scottish Ministers. The Board Committee structure comprises an Audit and Risk Management Committee and a Remuneration and Appointments Committee.

The Audit and Risk Management Committee meets at least four times in each financial year and is responsible for providing the Board and Accountable Officer with advice and assurance about the arrangements for:

  • risk management
  • financial control and reporting
  • legal and regulatory compliance

The Remuneration and Appointments Committee meets at least twice per annum and reviews the arrangements for:  

  • the performance management of the Chief Executive and other senior staff
  • the recruitment and remuneration of all CHS employees
  • ensuring that appropriate employment policies are in place

Please visit the CHS Board page for more information.

Accountable Officer

Under the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000, the Principal Accountable Officer of the Scottish Government appointed the National Convener/Chief Executive of CHS as its Accountable Officer. As Accountable Officer, the National Convener/Chief Executive is responsible to Scottish Ministers. CHS’ Accountable Officer has personal responsibility for the propriety and regularity of the public finances of CHS.

Planning, Budgeting and Control

CHS submits a Corporate Plan to our sponsor Directorate within the Scottish Government, which covers a three year period. The Corporate Plan sets out CHS’ key objectives and associated performance indicators, review of performance and budget information. The outcomes and activities set out in the plan are aligned to six of the national outcomes in the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework. Copies of CHS’ Corporate Plan can be found in 'Our publications'.

In addition, CHS prepares an annual Business Plan to our sponsor Directorate which includes key targets, milestones and budget information for the forthcoming year. Copies of CHS’ Business Plan can be found in 'Our publications'.

Performance against key targets

CHS operates management and accounting systems which enable us to review our financial and non-financial performance against agreed budgets and targets in line with our corporate and business plans.

Budgeting procedures

CHS must adhere to Scottish Government guidance on budget management and monitoring. Copies of these documents can be found in 'Our publications'.

Internal audit

Since February 2012, CHS has in place an internal audit service provided under contract, which operates to standards defined in the Government Internal Audit Manual. The Head of Internal Audit reports to CHS’ Audit and Risk Management Committee.

External accountability

The Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000 places personal responsibility on the Auditor General for Scotland to decide who is to undertake the audit of each central government body in Scotland. For the financial years 2016/17 - 2020/21 the Auditor General appointed Audit Scotland to undertake the audit of CHS. The general duties of the auditors of central government bodies, including their statutory duties, are set out in the Code of Audit Practice issued by Audit Scotland and approved by the Auditor General.

After the end of each financial year, CHS publishes an annual report of our activities, together with our audited annual accounts. The report and accounts outline our main activities and performance during the previous financial year. It also sets out in summary our plans for the future. The accounts are audited by CHS’ external auditors. Our most recent Annual Report and Accounts can be found in 'Our publications'.

Staff management

CHS is responsible for the recruitment, retention and motivation of our staff. This includes ensuring that recruitment processes are fair and support equal opportunities, that the levels, structure and pay of staff are appropriate, that staff performance is appraised and that CHS has procedures in place for staff management including a staff code of conduct. Copies of all CHS’ employment policies can be found in 'Our publications'.

Financial management

As part of its annual planning, and taking account of its approved funding, CHS prepares an annual budget for approval by the CHS Board and our sponsor Directorate. Individual budget managers are responsible for monitoring expenditure against budget and forecasting outturn throughout the year.

CHS recognises the importance of procurement in achieving its objectives and CHS procurement policies comply with the Scottish Public Finance Manual, including the requirement to ensure that purchases are based on value for money. CHS aims to comply with Scottish Government’s target for the payment of invoices within 10 working days of their receipt.

As a NDPB, CHS must also adhere to other guidance and legislation:

  • CHS’ Board members are Ministerial appointments, which are made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland's Code of Practice
  • Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 - an Act of the Scottish Parliament which gives everyone the right to ask for any information held by a Scottish public authority
  • Data Protection Act 1998 - this Act governs access to personal information (i.e. information about yourself). Guidance on how to request information from CHS is available in ‘Contact Us’
  • Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 - gives everyone the right to ask for environmental information held by a Scottish public authority (and some other bodies). Guidance on how to request information from CHS is available in the ‘Contact Us’ section of this website
  • Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 – imposes duties on listed public bodies to publish information on expenditure and certain other matters after the end of each financial year. CHS publishes this information annually on the ‘Funding and expenditure’ page
  • Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 – obliges all Scottish public authorities to prepare and implement a records management plan which sets out proper arrangements for the management of their records. You can read our Records Management Plan in 'Our publications'.
  • The Scottish Government also requires each Scottish NDPB to publish the names and salaries of senior staff, whose FTE salary is more than £58,200. CHS publishes this information on the ‘Senior Management Team’ page.

National Convener and CHS - Records Management Plan

As a public body, CHS is covered by the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011, which requires all named authorities in Scotland to produce a Records Management Plan detailing the arrangements in place for managing records. 

For CHS, this includes all records created, accessed, shared and disposed of by the National Convener, CHS staff and Board members, volunteer panel and Area Support Team (AST) members and Clerks to the ASTs.

CHS presented its Records Management Plan for assessment by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland on 31 March 2015. The Plan sets out the arrangements in place within CHS for managing records, in line with the 14 elements identified within the Keeper of the Records of Scotland’s Model Records Management Plan. Links to key evidence in support of each element can be found throughout this Plan alongside details of future improvement activities and mechanisms for ongoing review and assessment. Key roles and responsibilities have also been identified and named, as required under the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 (PRSA).

A revised version (2.0) was issued to the Keeper on 10 July 2015.

A copy of version 2.0 of this plan, which can be accessed from the 'featured publication' section of this page above and within the publications section of this website.