Minutes of the 151st Board meeting of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland on 3 August 2023
Donald MacRae (Chair)
Alan Sutherland (Chief Executive) Agenda Items
Ann Allen (Member)
Robin McGill (Member) Until item 4.1
Jo Armstrong (Member)
David Satti Director of Strategy, Finance and Governance
Donna Very, Director of Corporate and International Affairs
Andrea Mancini, Director of Price Review
Michelle Ashford, Chief Operating Officer
Chair’s opening remarks
The Chair opened the 151st meeting of the WICS Board and welcomed Board Members.
1. Apologies for absence
There were no apologies.
2. Minutes of the last meeting and regular updates
2.1 Declaration of conflicts of interest in relation to the agenda
No members declared any conflict of interest in relation to the agenda.
2.2 Minutes of the 150th meeting
The Board approved the minutes of the 150th meeting.
2.3 Summary of action points
The Board noted the summary of actions. The following points were arising:
- Action 1: This action is ongoing.
- Action 2: An update on the governance of Business Stream is provided at agenda item 4.3.
- Action 3: This action is ongoing.
- Action 4: There is initial reporting of costs by function included in the CEO report but work remains to improve this. For example, capturing the full cost of analysts given potential future training commitments and ensuring time is captured fully. The action remains but will be re-worded.
- Action 5: This action continues. A session is planned after the main board session in October.
- Action 6: This action will be discussed informally at item 3 of the August agenda. An additional meeting will be planned in the coming weeks if required.
- Action 7: Scenario analysis is scheduled for October.
- Action 8: This action is complete – agenda item 4.1, CP06/23.
- Action 9: This action is complete – agenda item 4.2, CP07/23.
- Action 10: This action is underway, and a draft paper will be developed for discussion by the end of the year.
2.4 Non-Executive Members Update
There were no material updates from Members however there was mention of the impact on utilities relating to growth and housing development. Particularly, £110 million delivery required on social housing which will impact utilities needed to accommodate this.
3. Strategic discussion
3.1 Strategic Review of Charges
A slide pack of options for the strategic review of charges was brought to the meeting for informal discussion.
Following this discussion, the Board expect to see a paper seeking formal approval of the approach to the next SRC.
The Chair thanked Members and Directors for their contributions. The Chair extended thanks to the Director of Analysis and his team for their efforts in preparing for the discussion.
4. Business update
4.1 Roles, structure and values
The Chief Executive provided an overview of the work completed to date and confirmed that the organisational structure and job descriptions are currently being developed by an HR consultant. He noted that there is a skill gap within WICS in the area of HR and Wellbeing, which we are first seeking to rectify.
The Board noted that a weightings exercise is expected to be carried out later this year and that all staff are being assured that no salaries will be reduced as part of this. The Board requested an update on this work at a suitable future meeting.
In looking at these key points, the Chief Executive explained that this work will clearly set out the needs of the office and identify where the corporate function can provide proactive support.
Members of the Board recognise that staff are free to plan and manage events but agree that more could be done to encourage more social gatherings and events to aid wellbeing and morale. In addition, the Board reminded that being clear about WICS values, accepted behaviours and reporting lines are all key components of good staff morale.
It was pointed out that wellbeing is a management role and all managers must get to know members of their team to ensure they can provide any support that might be needed, now and in future.
The Chief Executive explained that consideration is being given to a partial return to an office space and that this is something that may be experimented. The use of Scottish Government offices at Victoria Quay might be a way of trialling this.
Members collectively raised the requirement to measure cultures and requested that a staff survey be carried out, with follow up pulse surveys and results shared with the Board.
The Board also requested a report on staffing issues and wellbeing be developed and shared with them on a recurring at least on a six month basis (outwith the CEO paper).
4.2 Investment baseline
The Board noted this paper. Thanks was extended to the Director of Analysis for this work.
4.3 Business Stream governance
The Board noted this paper highlighting the need for an independent review of Business Stream.
4.4 CEO update
The Board noted this paper and confirmed that no discussion was required on any matters detailed within.
The Chair closed the formal meeting and thanked Board Members and the office for their contributions.