Public Services Reform and Local Government in Scotland

The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee has today, Monday 19 December 2011, launched a call for written evidence from all interested parties on a three-strand inquiry under the overarching theme of public services reform and local government in Scotland.

These strands will each examine specific aspects of public services reform as they relate to local government in Scotland. The overall remit and objectives for the individual strands are set out below.

Organisations and individuals are invited to submit written evidence to the Committee in relation to the overall remit, or to any or all of the individual strands. Those submitting evidence should feel free to address the issues in whatever manner they prefer, but it would be appreciated if they could attempt to address the questions set out under each strand, wherever possible.


How to submit your evidence

The closing date for receipt of submissions is Friday 17th February 2012.

Responses should be sent, wherever possible, electronically and in MS Word format to  

Hard copy responses may be sent to—

Local Government and Regeneration Committee
Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP

Responses should be no more than six to eight sides of A4 in length.

All written evidence received may be published by the Parliament and will be treated as a public document. If you wish to submit evidence in confidence or anonymously please read the policy on handling information outlined on pages 6 and 7 below.


What happens next?

Following consideration of the written submissions received, the Committee will agree a programme of oral evidence sessions and may request further written evidence as required.

Should you require alternative formats of this document or further information or assistance in making a written submission to the Committee, please do not hesitate to contact the clerking team.

For Committee information, contact:

Seán Wixted: 0131 348 5223


Euan Donald: 0131 348 5219


David Cullum: 0131 348 5217


For further information, the media contact is:

Linda Smith: 0131 348 6269


For public information enquiries, contact: 0131 348 5000

For general enquiries, contact:

0845 278 1999 (local call rate)
Visit our website at:

Public services reform and local government: overall remit

To examine, reflect on and report on the current situation in relation to public sector reform as it affects local government in Scotland and its delivery partners.

Objectives for the three short inquiries

Strand 1 – Partnerships and outcomes

To examine the ongoing development of community planning partnerships and the community planning process and assess how these could be built upon to support outcome-based approaches to service planning and delivery in local areas.

Key questions for this strand of the inquiry:

  • How could councils better integrate their partners into the process? How could the degree of commitment to the process amongst other community planning partners be improved? How can any legislative or administrative barriers that make partnership working more difficult be overcome?
  • How can local authorities and their partners move further towards real, integrated working?
  • What steps would facilitate the sharing of budgets in pursuit of shared outcomes?
  • How can the partners further improve on the progress that has been made and overcome the remaining challenges on engaging communities and voluntary sector organisations in the process?
  • How can the community planning arrangements be adapted and developed to promote outcomes-based and preventative approaches?
  • How is the work of delivery on SOA outcomes managed, coordinated and driven through the various community partnership structures and agreements?  How could Single Outcome Agreements be improved to deliver on community planning targets?
  • What is the purpose of a Single Outcome Agreement in assisting the delivery of improved outcomes? How are local Single Outcome Agreements developed, and how do they relate to national priorities?
  • How could local authorities and other public bodies contribute more to influencing and improving outcomes in their area?
  • How can arrangements, processes and accountability be improved?

Strand 2 – Benchmarking and performance measurement

To examine the development of work that has taken place over the last two years in relation to the development of benchmarking and comparative performance data and cost measurement and assess how it can contribute to the performance of local authorities in Scotland.

Key questions for this strand of the inquiry:

  • What are the main challenges (cultural, technical, geographical or other) in developing performance measurement and benchmarking systems for local authorities across Scotland?
  • To what extent has the work undertaken over the last two years by the Improvement Service, SOLACE and others contributed to developing a common approach to benchmarking across Scotland’s local authorities?
  • What technical or other resources are needed to continue and complete the development of recent work on benchmarking?
  • To what extent can the developing work on benchmarking be extended across community planning partnerships? How can data derived from benchmarking influence the future direction of community planning and the contents of future SOAs?
  • How can the development of benchmarking help improve the performance of local authorities in Scotland?
  • Should the Scottish Government have a role in providing national impetus to the development of benchmarking and performance measurement?

Strand 3 – Developing new ways of delivering services

To examine progress in relation to the development of shared services and other innovative ways of achieving economies of scale and harnessing the strengths and skills of key public sector partners to deliver the best possible quality services in local areas.

Key questions for this strand of the inquiry:

  • How can cultural and organisational change be promoted to ensure that local authorities and community planning partners are able to work together to develop the kind of integrated services that are aspired to by local communities?
  • How can the tensions between shared services creating savings through potential reductions in the number of staff involved and the economic impact brought about by any resulting job losses be resolved?
  • How can any legislative or institutional barriers to developing shared and innovative service delivery models to their full potential be overcome?
  • Is there scope for further national shared services along the lines of the shared recruitment portal for local authorities, ‘myjobscotland’?
  • What can be learned from elsewhere, for example from initiatives such as the Nottingham Early Intervention City or the Birmingham total place pilot?
  • How can innovative delivery methods for services and collaborative arrangements (as mentioned, for example, in the Christie Commission report) help to improve outcomes and tackle embedded social problems focused in defined geographical areas?
  • What scope is there for developing ways of delivering services, such as the personalisation of care, in order to mitigate the effects of shrinking resources while also promoting improved standards of care?

Policy on handling of information received in response to calls for evidence

This information lets you know how committees of the Scottish Parliament will deal with any information sent in response to calls for evidence and any subsequent correspondence.

Most people who submit evidence want it to be put in the public domain. In addition, the committees of the Scottish Parliament are committed to being open in their dealings in accordance with the Scottish Parliament’s founding principles.

Our normal practice is to publish all relevant evidence that is sent to us on our website and we may also include it in the hard copy of any committee report.

Therefore, if you wish your evidence to be treated as confidential, or for your evidence to be published anonymously, please contact the Clerk to the Committee, before you submit your evidence.

You should be aware that it is for the relevant committee to decide whether the evidence can be accepted on the basis that it will be seen in full by the committee but will not be published, or will be published in edited form or anonymously. See section on “Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002” below.

There are a few situations where we do not publish all the evidence sent to us. This may be for practical reasons: for example, where the number of submissions we receive does not make this possible or where we receive a large number of submissions in very similar terms. In that case, we would normally publish only a list of the names of people who have submitted evidence.

In addition, there may be a few situations where we may not choose to publish your evidence or have to edit it before publication for legal reasons.

Data Protection Act 1998

The Parliament must comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. This affects what information about living people (personal data and sensitive personal data) we can make public.

Your evidence may contain personal data or sensitive personal data relating to you. In line with our normal practice, we will usually publish it, if relevant to the inquiry. We will not, however, publish your signature or personal contact information arising in your private life (for example, your home telephone number or home address).

We may also have to edit information which can identify another living person who has not specifically given their consent to have information about them made public.

In these situations, committee members will have access to the full text of your evidence, even if it has not been published in full.

If you consider that evidence that you plan to submit may raise any other issues concerning the Data Protection Act, please contact the Clerk to the Committee before you submit your evidence.

Potentially defamatory material

Typically, the Parliament will not publish defamatory statements or material. If we think your submission contains potentially defamatory material, usually, we will return it to you with an invitation to substantiate the comments or remove them. In these circumstances if the evidence is returned to us and it still contains material which we consider may be defamatory, it may not be considered by the relevant committee and it may have to be destroyed.

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

The Parliament is covered by the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. This also affects the way that we deal with your evidence.

As stated above, if you wish your evidence to be treated as confidential, or for your evidence to be published anonymously, please contact the Clerk to the Committee, before you submit your evidence.

In particular you should be aware that if we receive a request for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, we may be required legally to release the information to the person who has made the request – even where the relevant committee has agreed to treat all or part of the information in confidence or publish it anonymously.

So, in the circumstances outlined above, while we can assure you that your document / name will not be circulated to the general public in the context of the relevant committee’s current work, we are unable to give you a guarantee that the full document will never be released.