Accounts Commission annual report 2020/21

Annual Report
Accounts Commission

Annual report 2020/21

This report outlines the Accounts Commission’s work in 2020/21 across Scottish local government. This includes councils, health and social care integration joint boards and performance audits on significant themes across Scotland.

 Download the full annual report 969Kb - PDF

Elma Murray. Interim Chair of the Accounts Commission

Chair's foreword

Our 2020/21 annual report outlines our work over the last 12 months.

Over the period covered by this report we have seen councils adapt and repurpose their services to support their residents in many different ways, working with local partners with speed and flexibility. Our report looks back at our annual audit, Best Value and national performance audit work. Our auditors have continued to produce work to the highest professional standards, providing insight to councils to support improvement, share learning and prepare for the significant recovery that will be required in the coming months and years.

Elma Murray. Interim Chair of the Accounts Commission
Download the report for full statement


Our year

Impact of Covid-19

2020 was the most challenging year we have faced but our annual audit work in councils and other local government bodies has continued to be the foundation for everything we do. Despite the restrictions put in place to manage Covid-19, all annual audits were published by the end of March 2021.

You can find our reports and related outputs on our website.

The Accounts Commission

An overview of our national performance audits in 2020/21

Affordable housing

Affordable housing

Good progress has been made towards the Scottish Government’s ambitious target to deliver 50,000 new affordable homes by March 2021, but serious risks remain.

Risks include a lack of capacity in both construction and council planning services, uncertainty of future funding, and lack of access to suitable land.

Housing Benefit Performance audit: annual update 2020

Housing Benefit Performance audit: annual update 2020

The value of outstanding overpayments in Scotland had increased by 20 per cent between 2015/16 and 2018/19, to £152 million.

Councils are not using all available options to recover housing benefit overpayments.

In response to Covid-19, the Department for Work and Pensions implemented emergency measures and policy changes.

Digital progress in local government

Digital progress in local government

Councils are at different stages of digital transformation.

The pace of change has increased as digital technologies have played a vital role in the response to Covid-19.

Clear vision and leadership, with workforce and community engagement, are essential for realising the benefits of digital transformation.

Improving outcomes for young people through school education

Improving outcomes for young people through school education

Progress on closing the poverty-related attainment gap between the most and least deprived school pupils has been limited.

There are large variations in local authority performance, with evidence of worsening performance on some indicators in some councils.

More evidence and better data are needed to understand educational achievement beyond exams.


Best Value Assurance Reports in individual councils

Councils have a duty to demonstrate Best Value in how they deliver services, use public money, and improve as organisations. The Commission prepares a Best Value Assurance Report (BVAR) on every council as part of a five-year cycle to review councils’ progress. We meet in public to consider these reports and decide what action to take.

Argyll and Bute Council Best Value Report
North Ayrshire Council Best Value Report
Moray Council Best Value Report
Dundee City Council Best Value Report
Aberdeenshire Council Best Value Report
The City of Edinburgh Council Best Value Report

Accounts Commission Members

Our members

The Accounts Commission members are appointed by Scottish ministers.

The Commission meets monthly and its meetings are open to the public.

Find out more about our members here.