The work of the Research Team at the Improvement Service is divided between managing analytical projects, undertaking bespoke analysis, and pursuing independent research projects. Over the course of the past few years we have delivered a vast number of analytical products that successfully helped councils to arrive at informed decisions and harness the potential of their internal data. The IS Research Team specialises in complex research projects that often involve sourcing data from multiple data systems.
Within numerous projects we have delivered significant expertise in undertaking various types of work; in particular:
More information about our work can be found below.
Below are some of the current and recent research projects that helped shape the research agenda in Scotland.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Findings from the project were officially recognised in the Christie report and helped to shape the local public sector agenda in Scotland
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.
This is an ongoing study seeking 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.
The IS research team has assisted both the Instrumental Music Group (IMG) and the Instrumental Music Implementation Group (IMIG) with gathering information on local authority-led instrumental music services across Scotland. These groups were set up by the Scottish Government in 2012 and 2013, respectively, to address the delivery of instrumental music across Scotland, make recommendations, and oversee the progress of such recommendations.
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.
Over the past few years, we have delivered technical and analytical output to a number of different programmes that are being undertaken within the company:
This tool brings together numerous publically available indictors relating to key aspects of welfare reform at local authority and neighbourhood level.
An interactive mapping tool displaying life outcomes across Scotland’s neighbourhoods, wards, intermediate geographies and local authorities.
Business intelligence tool providing access to benchmarking indicators.
“Better information makes for better decisions and therefore better and cheaper services.” Audit Commission 2009
Public sector is not exempt from this rule. Policies and direction based on rigorous research have the power to be transformational in both service delivery and outcomes. Poorly constructed and misinformed conclusions, on the other hand, have the potential to lead to inappropriate provision. Over the years, we have delivered a vast number of training and workshop sessions to staff and politicians across councils. We specialise in the following:
We work mostly with public sector bodies but we also have expertise in undertaking commissioned work. If you would like to contact us in future concerning this type of analysis please contact a member of our research team.