This is the seventh 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.

Executive Summary

The Local Government Benchmarking Framework (LGBF) reports on how much councils spend on particular services, service performance and how satisfied people are with the major services provided and commissioned by councils. The framework supports evidence-based comparisons between similar councils so that they can work and learn together to improve their services. The benchmarking framework now has eight years of trend data, covering 2010/11 to 2017/18. 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.


Across the eight-year period for which we present data, total revenue funding for councils has fallen by 8.3% in real terms from £10.5 billion to £9.6 billion. Spending on education and care has been relatively protected over this period. As these account for over 70% of the benchmarked expenditure within the LGBF, most other service areas have experienced substantial real reductions in spending: 22% reduction in culture and leisure spending; 34% reduction in planning; almost 15% reduction in roads spending; and almost 10% reduction in environmental services spending.


Council spending across Scotland did stabilise against trend in 2017/18 but not sufficiently to offset the major reductions experienced since 2010/11. Across that period, service performance has been maintained remarkably well with improving trends in measurable performance across services. In 2017/18 there is indicative evidence across some services covered by the benchmarking framework that performance improvement is slowing down for the first time since 2010/11. 2017-18 also sees further falls in satisfaction with council services. This echoes concerns about the challenges councils face in meeting the increasing demand for services against tightening budgets, highlighted by the Accounts Commission in its Local Government in Scotland Financial Overview 2017/18.1 One key message in the financial overview’s summary was that “The financial outlook is for reductions in Scottish Government revenue funding to councils. This will mean continued and increasing financial pressures on council services, especially those that are not protected”.


The key national trends are:

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