The Improvement Service (IS) is the national improvement organisation for local government in Scotland.
Our purpose is to help councils and their partners to improve the health, quality of life and opportunities of all people in Scotland through community leadership, strong local governance and the delivery of high quality, efficient local services.
Through a series of principles, the IS works to promote improvement in local government and among its partners to support them improve outcomes and reduce the outcome gaps within populations and within areas.
The IS delivers a range of products and services that support CPPs to build their capacity to deliver the public service reform agenda.
The IS has a non-partisan role to support all elected members in Scotland.
The Improvement Service has pulled together information on Scottish local authorities' decision making and governance arrangements. The information should help local authorities to see the different governance arrangements in place across all 32 councils. It should also help public service partner organisations as well as local people understand how their local authority makes decisions and what arrangements are in place for effective governance and scrutiny.
The Improvement Services produces a series of newsletters on a range of subjects, including myaccount, elected members, tellmescotland as well as the main IS newsletter. Subscribe on this page.
The Elected Members' Briefing Series has been developed by the IS to help elected members keep apace with key issues affecting local government. A list of all briefing notes published is below.
While some briefing notes are directly produced by IS staff, we also work with a wide range of public bodies, commentators and observers of public services to produce materials. If you are interested in contributing to our Briefing Series, please contact David Barr.
Tel. 01506 283778
It is acknowledged meeting the needs of Gypsy/Travellers and settled communities is complex and
sensitive, and can present a significant challenge for elected members. The purpose of this briefing
is to raise awareness of a suite of recently published, and soon to be published, guidance and
briefings relating to Gypsy/Travellers.
Scottish local authorities have a great deal of expertise in supporting the most vulnerable in society,
including those fleeing persecution and seeking refuge. This briefing summarises the
various humanitarian protection schemes that are currently in operation and the central role that
local authorities have been playing to support them.
This note gives an overview of the Care Inspectorate – Scotland’s scrutiny and improvement organisation for social care and social work, which also works across early learning and childcare, community justice and integrated health and social care.
The purpose of this briefing is to give elected members better insight into financial capability and
encourage greater understanding of its importance. It is our hope that elected members will use this
information to influence local government policies, provide leadership, and facilitate and negotiate
solutions to the current low level of financial capability in the UK.
This briefing note provides basic information about the provisions of the Public Bodies (Joint Working)
(Scotland) Act 2014, which brought about significant change in the way health and social care services
are planned and delivered.
This briefing provides an overview of complaints handling and explains the role of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) in dealing with complaints about public services. It provides advice to elected members on supporting constituents and learning from complaints, as well as a checklist about their own council's complaints culture and governance arrangements.
This guide provide a good starting point for elected members interested in using social media. It explains why social media can be an important tool in engaging with communities and constituents as well as how to get started on using some of the main social platforms. The guidance also contains advice on what to consider when first signing up to social media and how to engage with others effectively and safely in the role as an elected member.
This note outlines the reforms to welfare taking effect in 2012-14 and the likely impact on councils and communities. It outlines the debate surrounding the reforms and sets out the key challenges for elected members: providing information and access to information; support for constituents; gathering information and intelligence; identifying and supporting the development of new services/approaches; identifying and supporting new opportunities from the reform programme; and 'protecting' the council's reputation.
This briefing note explains the role of the Standards Commission in Scotland, particularly in relation to elected members and the Councillors’ Code of Conduct. It outlines the key principles underpinning the Code of Conduct and the elected member’s responsibilities with regards to it, and summarises the Standard Commission’s enforcement powers.
This briefing note explains what consultation is and its role in local democracy, the main challenges for organisations carrying out consultation and it relevance to elected members, as well as provides pointers on good practice.
This brief guide explains how the equality duties apply to your role as an elected member and how they can benefit your local authority. This guide does not cover poverty/economic inequality.
Significant revisions were made to the conditionality regime for Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance claimants in 2012. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published data relating to the new sanctions rules in February 2014, showing sanction decisions made up until 30 September 2013. This paper is intended to provide elected members with the key findings and issues emerging from the data.
This briefing note aims to increase understanding of the harm caused through commercial sexual exploitation and the contributing factors and drivers behind it, and make suggestions to elected members on how local authorities have the potential to positively impact on the lives of women and the wider communities in which we live.
This briefing note explains what asset transfer and community ownership is, why it is important, what it can achieve for communities, managing the risk and the role of elected members in the asset transfer process. It also includes examples of successful community ownership.
This briefing note outlines the advantages of encouraging active and sustainable transport for climate change, health, air quality, community cohesion and the local economy. It discusses the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme, which aims to encourage people to reduce car use in favour of more sustainable transport. It also outlines role elected members can play in encouraging active and sustainable travel.
Participatory Budgeting (PB) has been defined, in simple terms, as ‘local people having direct decision-making powers over part of a public budget’. This briefing note explains how PB can work in practice, how it contributes to the work of elected members and how elected members can support PB in their communities.
The purpose of this briefing is to raise awareness amongst elected members of the role that men can play in tackling violence against women (VAW). It details how men’s engagement can lead to effective prevention and challenging of VAW, and provide suggestions of how elected members can facilitate this.
This briefing is one in a series raising awareness of the different forms of violence against women and highlighting some of the good practice around Scotland. It examines the impact of domestic abuse on the people involved, and the wider impacts on the community, service delivery and the economy. It explains how elected members have a role in preventing and eradicating domestic abuse.