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What we do - consultancy, advice, learning and skills, performance management, research


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Tel. 01506 282012

What We Do

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.


We do this by providing a range of products and providing advisory services including consultation and facilitation, learning and skills, performance management and improvement, and research. You can find out more about all our products and services by visiting the Products and Services sections of this site.


Five year strategy

In November 2015, we published our strategic framework and development priorities for the next five years. The framework gives our reading of the challenges local government and local services will face over the five-year period and sets out the support that the IS and other partners want to provide to help councils and Community Planning Partnerships deal with them.


Download a copy of our Strategic Framework.


From 2015-2020, our priorities are to:


  • Support a step change in productivity and efficiency
  • Support the delivery of improved outcomes
  • Support thinking about future resilience and sustainability


Our work is focused in seven key areas to support these priorities:


  1. We will continually improve our products and services
  2. We will drive collaborative working
  3. We will broker and mobilise resources
  4. We will provide practical support
  5. We will support the development of sustainable strategic options
  6. We will  improve research and analytical support
  7. We will support the development of the next generation of political and executive leaders


Business Plan

The Strategic Framework provides the foundations on which our annual Business Plan, programme plans and resource plans are developed. Our annual plans are continually evolving to ensure we are best placed to respond to current and emerging pressures and to ensure that resources are targeted in the areas that matter most to councils and partners.


Download the 2019-20 Business Plan.


Annual Stakeholder Survey

The IS carries out an annual stakeholder survey to assess and report the extent to which councils and partnerships find our support valuable.


The survey report presents the overall results of our latest survey. It explains our approach to continuous improvement and provides an overview of key improvement activity and actions.


Each team has its own approach to improvement and improvement action plan, therefore individual stakeholder groups will be updated further over the coming months.


How we are funded

Our detailed spending plans are fully integrated and aligned to our business plan for the coming year. In 2017/18 we received £1.656m Revenue Support Grant to fund our core programmes and £4.6m to deliver the myaccount programme and services. We also secured a number of specific grants.


We also generate additional funding and resourcing.


Our 2018-19 financial statements are now available: Download the 2018-19 statutory financial statements


How we are governed

The Improvement Service is a partnership between the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE). It is a company limited by guarantee. The Improvement Service is governed by a Board of Directors which meets quarterly and this is chaired by Councillor Alison Evison, President of COSLA. Current board members are:


  • Councillor Alison Evison, President, COSLA
  • Councillor Neil Benny, Stirling Council
  • Councillor Malcolm Bell, Shetland Islands Council
  • Sarah Gadsden, Chief Executive, Improvement Service
  • Angela Leitch, Chief Executive, East Lothian Council
  • Steve Grimmond, Chief Executive, Fife Council
  • Keith Winter, Executive Director of Enterprise and Environment, Fife Council
  • Joyce Whyte, Chief Executive, West Dunbartonshire Council
  • Sally Loudon, Chief Executive, COSLA


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