Developing a Caseworker Forum with the Scottish Parliament

Scottish Civil Justice Hub Projects

Project Overview

This project will create a forum for parliamentary caseworkers. Parliamentary caseworkers assist Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) with requests for assistance from their constituents.

This is a very challenging role, requiring political acumen, wide knowledge of public service delivery, inquisitiveness and tenacity, and empathetic communication. Parliamentary casework represents a substantial advice service, with over 180 caseworkers dealing with more than 100,000 cases a year. The creation of the caseworker forum will allow caseworkers to support each other, identify best practice, and benefit from the expertise of academics and other experts through a programme of knowledge exchange.

The creation of the forum arises from a recommendation in a report by Dr Chris Gill charting the ‘hidden work’ of MSPs in helping their constituents. This work was carried out in the course of Gill’s Scottish Parliament Academic Fellowship. The report found, among other things, that caseworkers would benefit from being provided with additional support and from a more proactive approach by the Scottish Parliament. This research was carried out as part of Gill’s wider research agenda looking into access to justice and the mechanisms available for individuals who have suffered injustices in their dealings with public authorities.

Research Aims and Objectives

A programme of online activities will be developed, including a four-year plan for sustaining the forum. In terms of developing guidance, existing resources will be consolidated and new resources created. The emphasis will be on setting up priorities for future resource development and building capacity to enable the forum to sustain itself into the future.

The creation of the caseworker forum will take forward the established collaborative relationship developed between Gill and the Scottish Parliament. To implement the caseworker forum in practice, Jack McLean (HR Support Officer at the Scottish Parliament) has been seconded to work with Gill to deliver the project, with generous support from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Scottish Parliament.

Research Methods

The project will proceed through initial scoping work and the analysis of successful models of casework peer support. There will be some comparative work looking at the other legislatures within the UK.

Project Funding

Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Fund (£15,000) with match funding from the Scottish Parliament.

Project Dates

The project is due to be completed by summer 2022.

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