Our Executive Advisory Body

Social Security Scotland is supported by an Executive Advisory Body, providing the Chief Executive and the leadership team with challenge and advice. The Advisory Body is Chaired by the Chief Executive, who is the Accountable Officer of Social Security Scotland. They are responsible for:

  • Providing strategic advice, questioning operations and challenging the Chief Executive and the Senior Leadership Team;
  • Encouraging improvement and promoting best practice.
  • Making sure Social Security Scotland delivers on its purpose and principles.

The membership of the Executive Advisory Body is made up of a number of non-executive members alongside the Social Security Scotland leadership team.

Social Security Scotland believes that the involvement of people with lived experience of the benefits system in the discussions of the Executive Advisory Body adds value to those discussions. Members of the Executive Advisory Body, or their family members, may be from time to time in receipt of benefits paid by Social Security Scotland and/or the Department for Work and Pensions.

Chris Creegan is currently Chief Executive of the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) and Chair of SAMH, the Scottish Association for Mental Health. Chris joined SCLD from the National Centre for Social Research, where he had been Director of Corporate Affairs since 2010 and previously Deputy Director of Qualitative Research. Chris was previously Chair of Scottish Adoption, and Tower Hamlets Homes. Chris is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the Royal Society of Arts.

Douglas Hutchens is a former Director of Planning and Corporate Affairs of a NHS Board, and currently a member of the UK Judiciary Appeals Tribunal. Douglas has spent over 25 years in NHS management and planning, mainly in Glasgow and Lanarkshire, He is also a director of a small consultancy organisation working mainly with public sector and third sector organisations. He was previously the Vice Chair of the Scottish Association for Mental Health, Vice Chair of the Care Inspectorate and co-chaired the Ministerial Task Force on the Future of Residential Care in Scotland.

Elaine Noad is currently a Public Appointments Adviser to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland. She is also a Board Member with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission Elaine has worked for most of her career in Local Government, with her last post being Director of Social Work Housing and Health with South Ayrshire Council. She has a background in equalities, including the role of Commissioner for Scotland with the Disability Rights Commission and Member of the Scotland Committee of the Equality And Human Rights Commission. She has held a number of public appointments and voluntary roles in the last ten years, including Non-Executive Director with the Scottish Government, Board Member with the Mental Welfare Commission For Scotland, and voluntary trustee roles with local charities.

Jessica Burns recently retired as Social Security and Child Support Regional Tribunal Judge for Scotland but continues to sit as a fee paid judge. She was the first President of Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland in 2005 and served in that capacity for 6 years. Jessica has also served on the Parole Board for Scotland, lectured law at Aberdeen and Glasgow Universities and practised as a solicitor on her own account. She is currently a Board member of Scottish Opera.

Ewan Gurr has spent his entire working life in the voluntary sector having led small and medium-sized charities including The Trussell Trust in Scotland until January 2018, with whom he helped develop a network in 28 out of Scotland's 32 local authorities which, in the last financial year, provided support to 170,625 men, women and children. Prior to that, he founded and led Scotland's busiest foodbank in Dundee for seven years. He lives with his wife, Leah, and three young children in Dundee and spends his spare time playing the drums and supporting Hearts FC.

Laura Brennan-Whitefield lives with Multiple Sclerosis and has direct experience of the UK benefits system. She has long campaigned on disability issues. Currently an SNP Councillor for South Ayrshire, Laura is a Council-nominated non-executive Board member of NHS Ayrshire & Arran, a member of the Health and Social Care Integration Joint Board and Board member of the Ayrshire Women’s Hub.

Audit and Assurance Committee

We also have an Audit and Assurance Committee which is a sub-committee of our Executive Advisory Body. This is chaired by an Independent Member Russell Frith and consists of three other non-executive members from the Executive Advisory Body; Elaine Noad, Douglas Hutchens and Jessica Burns

The Audit and Assurance Committee supports the Accountable Officer in his responsibilities on issues of risk management, control, governance and finance.

Russell Frith is a chartered accountant with over 35 years experience of auditing, accounting and governance in the public, private and third sectors. He has spent over 25 years in the Scottish public sector including as Assistant Auditor General at Audit Scotland until 2017 where, inter alia, he led on audit quality, professional standards, housing benefit audit and the National Fraud Initiative. He has been extensively involved in setting professional standards for auditors and accountants across the UK and been a member of several boards and audit committees. He is currently a non-executive director in the private sector and trustee of several charities and community organisations.