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On Board: A Guide for Board Members of Public Bodies in Scotland

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Preface: What is a Public Body?

A public body is generally an organisation which receives at least 50 percent of its funding from central government. Within this framework, some public bodies operate to a greater or lesser extent at arm's length from Ministers and are not part of a Scottish Executive Department. These specific bodies are generally referred to as Non Departmental Public Bodies and are managed by a Board whose members are appointed by the Minister. There are five main categories of NDPB:

  • Executive NDPBs - with executive, administrative, regulatory or commercial functions, employing their own staff and managing often considerable budgets. They have their own set of accounts. Examples include sportscotland and Scottish Enterprise.
  • Advisory NDPBs - set up by Ministers to advise them and their Departments on particular matters. Advisory bodies generally have no staff of their own but are supported by staff from their sponsor Department. Their expenditure is usually no more than members' expenses. They do not have their own set of accounts. Examples include the Scottish Law Commission and the Historic Environment Advisory Council for Scotland.
  • Tribunals - independent of the Scottish Executive, deciding the rights and obligations of private citizens towards each other or towards a Department or other public authority. Tribunals are established, for example, to decide medical appeals and employment disputes. They do not employ staff and do not incur expenditure on their own account. Examples include the Rent Assessment Panel for Scotland and the Lands Tribunal.
  • Public corporations and nationalised industries - industrial or commercial enterprises under direct Government control, with responsibility for employing their own staff and managing their own budget.
  • National Health Service bodies - bodies which provide management, technical or advisory services within the NHS, and which normally have responsibility for employing their own staff and managing their own budget.

This guidance is specifically, but not solely, directed at Board members who have been appointed to an NDPB which falls into one of the above categories.

You can find a list of all current NDPBs at the Scottish Executive website at:http://www.scotland.gov.uk/government/publicbodies