This is the sixth overview report for the Scottish Local Government Benchmarking Framework. Scotland's councils have worked together to report standard information on the services they provide to local communities across Scotland. This information covers how much councils spend on particular services and, where possible, service performance. The key point is that all the information provided is in a standard and therefore comparable form.


This report contains all Scotland data for every listed indicator, and the development programme for strengthening the framework across the next year.


This report is an overview report and does not seek to replicate the depth and detail of this website. The focus is on:

(i) Trends across Scotland for the service groupings and key indicators covered by the framework covering the period 2010 to 2015.

(ii) Factors shaping these trends across Scotland including physical geography, population distribution, size of Council and the impact of deprivation.

(iii) Identifying areas where variation is not related to extraneous factors and that councils can explore in more detail as part of their improvement and development.

2016-17 Executive Summary

The benchmarking framework reports on how much councils spend on particular services, service performance and how satisfied people are with the major services provided by councils. The framework supports evidence based comparisons between similar councils so that they can work and learn together to improve their services. It is important to highlight that this report sets out the national position, however there is a wide range of variation in costs and performance across councils.  It is this variation which provides the platform for learning and improvement.


The benchmarking framework now has seven years of trend data, covering 2010/11 to 2016/17. Across the seven-year period for which we present data, total revenue funding for councils has fallen by 7.6% in real terms from £10.5 billion to £9.7 billion.  Education spending has been relatively protected, and child protection and social care spending have grown substantially.  As these account for over 70% of the benchmarked expenditure within the LGBF, other services have taken much more substantial reductions.  Expenditure on roads has fallen by 20% in real terms, on planning by 33% and on culture and leisure services by 17%.


During this time councils have achieved substantial improvements in efficiency, innovation and productivity while service output and outcomes have been largely maintained and improved.  Measures of educational outcome continue to show positive progress overall, but particularly for children from the most deprived areas showing the value of council’s holistic approach to children’s services.  The increased usage of libraries, museums and leisure facilities coupled with reduced costs, provides evidence of positive service transformation and how widely valued council services are by communities across Scotland.


It is worth noting that the improvements evidenced by the LGBF may be subject to lag effects, and the full impact of the funding reduction in some service areas may take time to work through the system.  It should also be recognised that use of reserves and a public-sector wage cap underpin the expenditure trends observed, therefore the historic trend of improvements shown in the LGBF cannot be taken for granted in future years.  This will particularly be the case if staff pay increases by more than in recent years following the Scottish Government’s relaxation of its Public Sector Pay Policy, which although not applicable to local government employees may raise their expectations in their pay negotiations.   Given the scale of the challenge facing councils, the sustainability of some services will be increasingly dependent on the ability of councils and their partners to address the underlying demand for them.


The key national trends are:

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