About us


Holding councils to account

The Accounts Commission is the public spending watchdog for local government. We hold councils in Scotland to account and help them improve.

We operate impartially and independently of councils and of the Scottish Government and we meet and report in public.

The Commission is responsible for coordinating and facilitating scrutiny in local government.

The Controller of Audit is a statutory post established alongside the Commission in 1975. The Controller reports to the Commission and highlights areas of concern.

Read more about the Commission's role, duties and powers (PDF | 47KB). - Opens in a new window

Follow us on Twitter @AccCommScot.

Latest news

Councils holding up but financial pressures continue

Scotland's 32 councils have managed budgets well over the last year but face a difficult time ahead, says the Accounts Commission. In its annual financial overview published today, the...

Our work

our work

The Commission publishes financial audits on each council in Scotland and an annual overview report on local government, as well as individual reports about council services.

 View a full list of all Commission reports.

Our priorities

our priorities

  • Encourage effective reporting of performance
  • Reflect the interests of the citizen, service user and communities
  • Scrutinise the changing public services landscape
  • Promote good practice and innovation

Find out more about our priorities for the coming year in our strategy and annual action plan.

Some of our recent work

Health and social care integration: update on progress

Health and social care updateOur update report found that some improvements have been made to the delivery of health and social care services, but there needs to be more collaborative working.

Best Value Orkney Council

Best Value Orkney Islands CouncilOur last report found that Orkney Islands Council had made significant progress in recent years and needs to build on this for the future.

Local government finances

Local government financesOur tableau visualisation illustrates data about councils' income and reserves which we found in our overview report in November.


What we do

As well as auditing all local authorities in Scotland, the Commission looks at any issues arising from those audits and how well bodies are meeting Best Value duties. Find out more about each of the areas below:

local government overview

Local government overview

Reporting on local government's financial and overall performance

best value

Best Value reports

Reporting on councils' duty of continuous improvement

local government scrutiny

Local government scrutiny

Working with other bodies to improve the scrutiny of councils

how councils work

How councils work reports

Providing practical support to help improvement in local government

housing benefit

Housing benefit audit

Reporting on councils'  benefit services

annual audits

Annual audit reports

Auditing the accounts of all councils in Scotland


Performance audit reports

Auditing the efficiency and effectiveness of services

statutory reports

Statutory reports

Highlighting issues found in a council's annual audit

council performance

Council performance reporting

Specifying what performance information councils must publish

Our meetings

Commission members

Next meeting: 7 March

Previous meeting: 7 February

Members were presented with responses to the recent consultation with councils, trade unions and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations  on their updated work programme (2019/20 – 2023/24). Following this they were asked to approve the programme.The updated work programme is due to be published in March.  

In the private session there was a presentation and discussion on the draft Overview of local government in Scotland report. Members approved the draft report, which is due to be published on 14 March.

There was also discussion around the draft How councils work report, focusing on protecting public money. The ‘how councils work’ series of reports aims to stimulate change and provide practical support to help councils continue improving their performance. The topics are based on recurring themes and issues from our Best Value and performance audit work, the work of auditors and the overview report. The Commission approved the draft, and it is due to be published on 11 April.  


Members also received an update from Audit Scotland colleagues on financial devolution and EU Withdrawal. There was insight to Commission members on new financial powers, particularly the impact on this year’s budget and, more significantly, on the impact of the reassignment of VAT to Scotland in next year’s budget. There was also discussion about the Scottish Government’s focus on resilience planning in the event of a no deal Brexit, in particular concerns around maintaining food and medical supplies.

Audit Scotland’s Audit Quality and Appointments team led a discussion about changes to the form of audit reports to local government bodies. In particular, this update reflected changed requested by the Accounts Commission last year and the detection of fraud in councils.

The Accounts Commission also welcomed David Martin, Chief Executive of Dundee City Council and chair of the board of the Local Government Benchmarking Framework. David Martin, along with Emily Lynch of the Improvement Service, focused on the recent publication of the Local Government Benchmarking Framework, just published by the Improvement Service.

David highlighted the increasing importance of this data as part of the improvement journey for councils and Community Planning Partnerships. Overall he said that services were improving or performance levels being maintained across Scotland, although in some areas the rate of improvement is slowing or beginning to see a decline. The Commission welcomed working further with the board in the future as the project continues to develop.


Interested in coming to our meetings?

Our meetings are open to the public. Find out how to attend.


Who we engage with

The public in general are our principal stakeholder but we engage with a wide range of others. Find out more about who we engage with and what our main activities are.

Engaging with stakeholders

Who we engage with:

  • Audit Scotland
  • Auditor General
  • Citizens
  • Parliament and Government: Government ministers, MSPs, Parliament committees
  • Local government: councils, joint boards, COSLA, SLGP, SOLACE, Improvement Service
  • Councils' community planning partners: public, private and third sectors, local communities
  • Other stakeholders: Equalities and Human Rights Commission, other UK audit and scrutiny bodies, professional bodies, trade unions
  • Press and broadcasting media
  • Scrutiny partners
  • Private sector audit firms