Public services touch on many aspects of everyday life – health, social care, education, early years, community justice, enterprise and skills – and play a crucial role in ensuring people's wellbeing.

We are undertaking a programme of public service reform to ensure our public services are inclusive, sustainable, and effective in improving people's outcomes.


We are improving public services by:


In 2010 we established an independent Commission chaired by Dr. Campbell Christie CBE to develop recommendations for the future delivery of public services. The report from the Christie commission on the future delivery of public services was published in June 2011.

In September 2011 we published Renewing Scotland's public services: priorities for reform in response to the Christie Commission.

In our response we stated our expectation for public services to work with each other and with communities to deliver services which recognise the importance of people, prevention, performance and partnership.

In 2013, we published The three-step improvement framework for Scotland's public services to set out the guiding principles for improving public services across the country.

We expect our public services to work with each other and with communities to deliver services that are underpinned by the following principles:

  • subsidiarity and local decision making: decisions should be taken at the lowest possible level or at the level closest to the people they affect
  • simple, open democracy: people should be able to influence decisions that affect them and their families, and trust the decisions made on their behalf by those they elect
  • personal and empowering: people should have equal opportunity to participate and have their voice heard in decisions shaping their local community and society
  • fairness and equality of outcomes: arrangements should be appropriate and tailored towards the needs and aspirations of people and places, to support the delivery of shared national outcomes
  • financially sustainable and preventative: arrangements should be effective, efficient and represent value for money for Scotland as a whole

Reform is supported by advances in digital technology, greater integration, effective partnerships, and the expectation that all services will work collaboratively to address the problems facing people and communities which cannot be meaningfully and effectively tackled by one organisation working alone.

What Works Scotland initiative

What Works Scotland (WWS) was an innovative research collaboration, funded jointly between the Scottish Government (SG), the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. It’s main focus was to take the lead from the Christie Commission and develop a collaborative approach to exploring what works in public service reform. A short report reflecting on the What Works Scotland initiative was produced in October 2019 to capture and share learnings from this exercise. 

Collective Leadership for Scotland

Collective Leadership for Scotland (CLfS) emerged through the Scottish Leaders Forum after the Christie Commission report in 2011 as a systemic and collaborative approach to develop the skills and capacity for collaboration and collective leadership across public services. CLfS has operated since that time as a network that builds capacity for collaboration on complex, systemic issues to support public service transformation, led by a small team, funded by and based within Scottish Government. We have delivered learning and development programmes and festivals with a focus on co-design and co-delivery, reaching around 5,000 participants per year. SG funding for CLfS will end on 31 March 2023 and all aspects of the work will effectively cease at that point. 

Bills and legislation

In 2015 we introduced the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 to give community bodies new rights and public sector authorities new duties, to strengthen the voices of communities in the decisions that matter to them.


Email: Central Enquiries Unit

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