Elected Member Guidance and Briefings

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.


You might also be interested in information for elected members from other organisations we work with.


Health Inequalities and Improving Health

Cover of the briefing note on health inequalities and improving healthHealth inequalities are the unjust and avoidable differences in people’s health across the population and between specific population groups. The purpose of this briefing is to highlight the crucial role of elected members in reducing health inequalities and improving health.


Participatory Budgeting

Cover of the briefing note on alcohol harm in communitiesCOSLA and Scottish Government have agreed a framework to work together to have at least 1% of council budgets subject to participatory budgeting (PB) by 2021. This briefing note aims to support elected members to better understand PB and the role of elected members in a PB process.


Alcohol Harm in Communities

Cover of the briefing note on alcohol harm in communitiesThis briefing note aims to increase understanding of how alcohol consumption and harm impacts on local communities and across different areas of local authorities’ work. It examines the role elected members can play in tackling the harms caused in their communities and improving local outcomes.


Chief Social Work Officer

Front cover of the elected member briefing note on the chief social work officerThis briefing advises on the role and functions of the chief social work officer and how elected members can fulfil their duty to ensure that the chief social work officer is supported and has appropriate access and influence at the senior level.


Civil Contingencies and Emergency Preparedness

 Front cover of the elected member briefing note on civil contingencies and emergency preparednessThis briefing note outlines the responsibilities of the council under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and aims to help elected members understand their role in preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies.



Front cover of the elected member briefing note on procurementThis briefing note will help elected members understand why good procurement practice matters to local authorities and examine the ways in which it can help to address challenges faced by the public sector.


Health and Social Care Integration: the Role of all Elected Members

Cover of the briefing note on health and social care integration: the role of all elected membersThis briefing looks at the role and interests of councils as a statutory integration partner in health and social care and issues of interest to elected members who do not currently serve on the new integration structures.


The Planning System in Scotland: an introduction for elected members

Cover of The Planning System in Scotland: an Introduction for Elected MembersAn introduction to the fundamentals of the planning system in Scotland and the role of elected members in it.



Self-directed Support

Elected member briefing note on self-directed supportThis briefing is intended to inform elected members of the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013; specifically, its intention and implementation. The Act sits within the 10-year Self-directed Support Strategy, aimed at shifting the balance of power to people so they have more choice and control over their social care support.



Elected member briefing note on gypsy/travellersIt 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.


Humanitarian Protection

Elected member briefing note on humanitarian protectionScottish 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.


Care Inspectorate

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 Importance of Financial Capability in Scotland

Cover of the elected member briefing note on the importance of financial capability in ScotlandThe 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.


Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014

Front cover of the elected member briefing note on the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014This 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.


Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

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.


#FollowMe: a guide to social media for elected members in Scotland

#FollowMe: a guide to social media for elected members in ScotlandThis 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.


The Standards Commission for Scotland

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.


Commercial Sexual Exploitation

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.


Engaging Men in Tackling Violence Against Women

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.


Preventing and Eradicating Domestic Abuse

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.