Local government expenditure and income in 2018-19

A National Statistics Publication.

The Chief Statistician has released figures on local government expenditure and income in 2018-19. These figures provide a comprehensive overview of the financial activity of local government, including revenue expenditure and income; capital expenditure and financing; reserves; debt; and pensions.

Revenue expenditure is the cost of delivering services each year. Net revenue expenditure is calculated as service expenditure minus service income. In 2018-19, net revenue expenditure was £10,250 million, a 1.6% increase from £10,088 million in 2017-18. Education and social work were the services with highest net revenue expenditure, £5,057 million and £3,247 million respectively.

Local authorities use general funding to meet their net revenue expenditure on services and any non-service specific revenue expenditure. In 2018-19, general funding was largely made up of £6,885 million from General Revenue Grant, £2,636 million from Non-Domestic Rates and £2,376 million from council tax.

Capital expenditure is expenditure that creates the buildings and infrastructure necessary to provide services, such as schools and roads. Local authorities incurred £2,977 million of capital expenditure in 2018-19, which was consistent with expenditure of £2,984 million in 2017-18.

Local authorities can finance capital expenditure in a number of ways. In 2018-19 the main sources of capital financing were borrowing (£1,128 million) and Scottish Government general and specific capital grants (£916 million).

Usable reserves are local authorities’ surplus income from previous years. This can be used to finance future revenue or capital expenditure. At 31 March 2019, local authorities held £2,546 million of usable reserves, a decrease of 1% from £2,573 million held at 1 April 2018.

When local authorities borrow money or use credit arrangements to finance capital expenditure, a debt is created. Local authorities have to repay debt from future revenues. At 31 March 2019, local authorities had debt of £18,214 million, an increase of 3.8% from £17,551 million at 1 April 2018. In 2018-19, local authorities made debt repayments of £658 million.


Scottish Local Government Finance Statistics (SLGFS) 2018-19 is based on final, audited figures provided by local authorities.

Further information on Local Government Finance statistics publications and data collections can be found on the Scottish Government website.

These statistics have been produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.


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