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 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.
Tel. 01506 283775
We produce a small number of independent research pieces or publications each year, which are listed below. This is in addition to our programme and project-specific publications which can be found on the relevant pages within our Products and Services sections.
If you are interested in finding out more about our research services, visit our research page.
This research by the Improvement Service, Edinburgh Napier University Business School and
the University of the West of Scotland’s School of Business and Enterprise aimed to establish the current nature and status of talent management across Scotland’s public services. The report identifies a number of implications for practice and proposes some recommendations as to how these could be addressed.
A practitioner report is also available to accompany this research.
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.
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.
This report documents the results from the 2014 Instrumental Music Survey. This survey was
carried out on behalf of the Instrumental Music Implementation Group, which was set up by the
Scottish Government last year (September 2013) to oversee the progress of recommendations
reported by the Instrumental Music Group in June 2013. The purpose of this report is to provide
up-to-date information on the provision of instrumental music services across local authorities in Scotland.
Summary tables also available.
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.
This report from the Improvement Service and The Consultation Institute examines consultation policies and practices within Scottish local authorities and Community Planning Partnerships. It makes a number of observations about how consultation is currently undertaken and recommendations for how it can be further developed.
This is the main report from the Income Modelling Project which set out to develop improved measures of local incomes and poverty in Scotland at small area level. The project findings help support work to tackle poverty and reduce inequality in Scotland as reflected in EU commitments, UK legislation on Child Poverty, the Scottish Government’s overarching strategy Achieving Our Potential: A Framework to Tackle Poverty and Inequality in Scotland, and at local level in Community Planning.
The report and technical annexes, including summary income and poverty data for all local authorities, can be downloaded below:
Annex B – Guide to Variables (Excel)
Annex C – Predictive Models (Excel)
Annex D – Area Typologies (Excel)
As well as using the technical annexes which accompany the publication, users can access the small area data for the income and poverty measures using Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics (SNS). A theme report, Income and Poverty – modelled estimates, is available on the SNS website.
This report presents the findings of a survey of all councillors in Scotland and provides a comprehensive picture of Scottish councillors, including gender, age, educational level, employment status, household income and caring responsibilities. The report also explores wider issues such as why the councillors stood for election, their training and development experiences and their views on policy priorities. This survey was similar, but not identical, to surveys of newly elected and re-elected councillors carried out in 1999 and 2003 by COSLA and the then Scottish Executive, and in 2007 by the Improvement Service.
The aim of this paper is to provide evidence into the distribution of positive and negative outcomes within Scotland; to draw attention to the stark inequalities that exist; to demonstrate the distinctive geographical distribution of outcomes and to highlight the strong inter-correlation of positive and negative outcomes at local neighbourhood level. Secondly, and on the basis of this evidence, to link this to wider discussion around public sector reform to improve outcomes for individuals and communities and ensure future financial sustainability. Finally, the critical role of an integrated approach to local place and place ‘making’ is emphasised. See also the Appendices.
This Guide has been prepared by Renfrewshire Council and the five peer councils (East Ayrshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, North Ayrshire and North Lanarkshire) to highlight examples of good practice within their councils in relation to rent collection, rent recovery, debt prevention and performance management. The Guide has been structured to enable other councils to consider each example of good practice and to indicate whether or not it is already in place. In the event that a good practice example is not evident within the council, it is recommended that the council considers the feasibility of introducing the good practice as part of its improvement planning.
Summary of the key recommendations from a peer review of Renfrewshire Council's Finance and IT and Housing and Property Services departments. The review focused on rent collection, rent arrears, preventative measures and debt management. The areas considered by the peer review team during the review were leadership and governance, performance management, stakeholder management and organisational development.