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Research at the Improvement Service

Research Services - Independent Analysis


Research Team

Tel. 01506 283775

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Below are some of the current and recent research projects that helped shape the research agenda in Scotland.


Scotland's Councillors 2017-2022

This report details the findings of a survey of councillors elected in 2017 and explores how councillors compare with the Scottish population. The purpose of this survey was to develop a better understanding of Scotland’s current councillors. The survey examined the demographic profile of councillors, such as their age, gender and ethnicity but also looked at questions relating particularly to the councillor role, for example additional employment status, how councillor duties are managed and why councillors chose to stand at the election.


Projected Cost Pressures for Scottish Local Government

This analysis was carried out by the Improvement Service with the assistance of COSLA, Directors of Finance, and SOLACE. The paper explores how demographic trends and inflation are likely to affect local authority expenditure over the period to 2021.


Instrumental Music Services: Results from the IMS Survey May-July 2017

The National Instrumental Music Survey was first introduced in 2013 to share information regarding the provision of local authority-led Instrumental Music Services in Scotland. This is the fifth consecutive year of the annual survey which includes information on tuition fees, concession rates, instrument hire and loan procedures, pupil numbers, costs of services, instructor numbers, and additional activities.

Download the report - Instrumental Music Services: Results from the IMS Survey May-July 2017

Download the summary tables


Instrumental Music Services: Results from the IMS Survey 2016

This report documents the results from the 2016 Instrumental Music Survey.  This is the fourth consecutive year of this national survey and reports on the provision of local authority led Instrumental Music Services in Scotland.  Information available includes: tuition fees, concession rates, instrument hire/loan policies, pupil numbers, costs of services and revenue, instructor numbers, and additional activities.

Download the report: Instrumental Music Services: Results from the IMS Survey May-July 2016

Download the Summary Tables


Place-based Approaches to Joint Planning, Resourcing and Delivery: an overview of current practice in Scotland

This research looks at the current landscape of place-based approaches to joint planning, resourcing and delivery across Scotland’s local authority areas. It is based on literature review and interviews with 27 local authorities in Scotland.


Instrumental Music Services: Results from the IMS Survey 2015

This document outlines the findings of the Instrumental Music Survey 2015, carried out on behalf of Heads of Instrumental Teaching Scotland (HITS). The survey provides up-to-date information on local authority-led instrumental music services across Scotland.

Download the report: Instrumental Music Services: Results from the IMS Survey 2015

Download the Summary Tables


Making Better Places, Making Places Better

Findings from the project were officially recognised in the Christie report and helped to shape the local public sector agenda in Scotland

Download the report and appendices.


International Governance and Localism

The IS conducted secondary research on behalf of the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy to provide information on local governance and localism in an international context. The findings assisted the Commission in shaping their final conclusions.


1000 Communities

This study seeks to address patterns of inequalities across Scotland over the past ten years. The key results indicate that inequalities between neighbourhoods in Scotland are persistent over time, and reinforce the multiple nature of positive and negative life outcomes. This calls into question the success of previous policies which sought to reduce such inequality and the ability of public services to meet demands equally across society. The results also highlight the value of employment and income-generating programmes within Scotland’s most deprived areas.

Download the report.


Payroll Analyses

A number of local authorities have approached the IS research team to evaluate their internal payroll data. This analysis includes addressing employees’ salary and FTE distribution alongside their registered addresses. This research is not publicly available but if you are interested to find out more please contact a member of our research team.


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