Spending across service areas by councils


This interactive graphic illustrates how individual councils spend across different service areas compared to the rest of Scotland. It was originally produced for our report, An overview of local government in Scotland 2016, published March 2016, and has been updated to include 2015/16 for our report Local government in Scotland: Financial overview 2015/16, published November 2016.

About the data

Councils publish audited annual accounts for each year up until 31 March. Here we have included selected data, covering the last five years, derived from the Comprehensive Income and Expenditure Statement. This shows council spending on individual services.

Differences between individual councils on how they spend their money can exist for a variety of reasons, for example councils that still own council houses will generally spend a greater proportion of their income on housing.

The time series exhibits (3 and 4) allow you to compare figures in cash terms or real terms. The real terms figures have been adjusted so you can see what the amounts spent in previous years would have been in 2015/16, so you can compare whether spending in each area is increasing, being maintained or decreasing over time.

We have included the following categories (with examples of what is included in each):

  • Central services to the public (council tax collection, registrars and licensing)
  • Corporate costs (costs related to supporting councillors and certain pension costs)
  • Cultural and related (museums, community centres and libraries)
  • Education (schools, pupil support and special educational needs)
  • Environmental (environmental health, household waste collection and recycling)
  • Housing (General Fund and HRA) (housing improvement grants, homelessness and support services) - if there is council owned housing, the council must have a separate Housing Revenue Account which will include items such as repairs and maintenance of council houses
  • Planning and development (building control, planning policy and economic development)
  • Roads and transport (road construction, lighting and maintenance)
  • Social Work (care services and children and family services)
  • Other (a variety of other costs including those related with smaller services and other bodies)
  • Net cost of services (the cost of providing all of the above) - we have elected to show total service spending, total service income and the net cost of services (expenditure minus income) for each council.

How to use our graphics

All the graphics are interactive:

  • Hovering over the map and graphs will give you more detailed information.
  • If you select a council area from the map, the top chart will display information for that council. Negative values are due to how income has been classified in the accounts.
  • In the first two exhibits, clicking on a service area in the charts will show the percentage of councils' gross spend on services in 2015/16.  The map will also show the variation between councils. 
  • The bottom chart will show the equivalent figure for the whole of Scotland in the first exhibit, or for the council you choose as a comparator in the second exhibit.
  • The map and ‘heat bar’ at the bottom show the relative position of each council.  They will only activate when a service is selected, otherwise the map will revert to a dormant state.
  • The drop down menus in exhibits 3 and 4 allow you to select a service area to view how spending has varied over time. You can choose either gross spend (the total amount of money spent on a service) or net spend (how much is spent on a service once various specific grants and service charges are taken into account).