Open Government Partnership
Financial Transparency – Scottish National Investment Bank
Scottish Government and civil society representatives came together in December to discuss the Scottish National Investment Bank plans, and the milestones in our open government action plan. We aim to ensure the new institution is genuinely open and establishes transparent and engaging practice from the outset. This will set a new standard and model for other institutions in the field.
We heard from the team at the Bank, who described their approach to date. The Bank is due to open in summer 2020 and will specialise in providing patient finance (the ability to borrow money over the longer term, 10 – 15 years) to Scottish businesses and social enterprises.
Openness in the Bank’s DNA
The Bank team explained how open government principles and culture are being built into the ‘DNA’ of the bank. Their aims are to:
- Create a trusted financial institution from the outset,
- Support the Bank to create a culture that is built upon the four pillars of transparency, equality, diversity and inclusion (the Bank’s ‘DNA’),
- Ensure the way the Bank operates will define it as an ethical institution.
One of the Bank’s OGP commitments is to explore setting up a Citizen Advisory Group. It is proposed that membership of the Advisory Group will be drawn from a cross-section of external stakeholders and civil society, and will be established following Board appointments in 2020. Also under consideration is a Citizen’s Forum. Using a similar model developed for the Bank of England, this would help engage a wider network of people in understanding the role of the Bank and to help inform potential direction.
Ethics and Equalities
Another Scottish National Investment Bank commitment in the OGP action plan concerns the development of an Ethical Statement. The draft Strategic/Shareholder Framework, which will guide the relationship between Ministers and the Bank, contains a requirement for the bank to develop an Ethical Statement to guide its Investment Strategy. The Ethical Finance Hub has been commissioned to deliver bespoke research on best practice in this area.
The Scottish National Investment Bank Bill, currently making its way through the Scottish Parliament, and the accompanying Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA), set out a number of legal requirements in relation to diversity and inclusion to create an industry leader.
The Bank will be subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2003, the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018, the Public Sector Equality Duty and the Fairer Scotland Duty. The Bank will also sign up to the Women in Finance Charter which seeks to build a more balanced and fair finance industry.
Looking to the future
The Group also discussed the OGP Scotland Design Report 2018-2020, which some members of the Group contributed to earlier in the year. We agreed that the final report is very helpful, not only for completing this year’s milestones but also for shaping our approach to the third OGP Plan, which we’ll help to create in 2020.
Many thanks to the Bank team for providing the first of the Working Group’s ‘deep dives’ and setting the scene for informative and open collaboration between Working Group members. Keep a look out for more posts in this vein from Scottish Government Procurement and the Scottish Exchequer in the new year!