Strategic Framework 2023-2027


We are pleased to present the Improvement Service’s four-year strategic framework for financial years 2023/24 to 2026/27.

We have engaged with and listened to colleagues in local government and our partner organisations, to understand their challenges and priorities and the types of improvement support they need and value. This has enabled us to consider where the Improvement Service can make the biggest impact across the next period, ensuring that we continue to support local government to deliver sector-led improvement through our improvement architecture, products and services.

There are undoubtedly challenging times ahead for local government, with local authorities facing increasingly difficult choices about spending priorities, in the face of unprecedented financial pressures. There is uncertainty about the future shape and role of local government, with the potential development of a National Care Service for Scotland and a review underway on education.

While local authorities are still managing their post-Covid recovery, they now also face a cost-of-living crisis that is affecting their own services as well as the lives of their citizens and communities. Poverty and inequality are increasing, impacting negatively on individuals’ and families’ life chances and opportunities, and increasing demand for council services.

There is increasing pressure to embed and accelerate climate change action, to enable local government to make a meaningful contribution to Scotland’s 2030 climate change target.

The use of digital services grew exponentially during the pandemic, and will likely continue to grow, creating different opportunities for the way in which local authorities do business. Likewise, the pandemic underlined the critical role of data and intelligence within public services, highlighting the importance of timely, relevant and good quality information for decision-making and the need for improvements in the way local government manages and uses data.

Whilst these challenges, along with Scotland’s aging population, have all combined to create an era of uncertainty for those working in and engaging with public services, they have also driven innovative thinking and transformational change within local government. Across the lifetime of this Strategic Framework, it will be important to build on the change achieved, using it as a catalyst to sustain and where possible improve and transform services, within the available financial resources.

The Improvement Service understands the challenges facing local government, as well as the opportunities they present to develop and improve public services. Our new strategic framework reflects that understanding.

It sets out our vision, purpose, values and strategic priorities, along with the unique contribution that we make. Our Framework will guide everything we do across the next four years. It will provide the basis for our annual business and resource plans, which will detail how we will deliver our strategic priorities. It will also shape how we work with our many partners, ensuring that our joint work with partners delivers real collaborative gain, which could not be achieved by either partner working alone.

If the last few years have shown us anything, it is that it is impossible to predict the challenges that we might face in future. What we can do is ensure that we remain a flexible, innovative and responsive organisation, able to adapt to support local authorities through whatever issues they encounter. We will continue to support local government to deliver sector-led improvement through our products and services and the collective efforts of our staff, Board and partners.

We will keep our Strategic Framework under annual review to accommodate any new or emerging challenges.

Councillor Shona Morrison
Chair, Improvement Service Board

Sarah Gadsden
Chief Executive, Improvement Service

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