Local government

Accountability and standards of councils

Councils in Scotland operate independently of central government and are accountable to their electorates, not Scottish Ministers, for the provision of services.

We have helped to put in place a number of measures designed to ensure that local government performs to a high standard, and that it is held to account.

Audit, scrutiny and improvement

Councils' performance in providing services is subject to both internal and external audit and scrutiny to encourage good practice and improvement.

We have set up a number of independent bodies, such as Audit Scotland, the Accounts Commission, and the Auditor General, to monitor the work of local authorities in certain areas.

Read more about audit, scrutiny and improvement of councils in Scotland.

Standards and conduct

We determine the standards of conduct that all councillors in Scotland must uphold in performing their duties. We set out these principles and rules in the code of conduct. It is issued by Scottish Ministers after being approved by the Scottish Parliament.

The councillors' code of conduct was updated in July 2018. The code, along with codes for others in public life, is an important part of the ethical standards in public life frameworkand is supported by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.


We do not deal with complaints about councils or councillors, but there is a clear process for making a complaint and several independent bodies which have statutory responsibility for overseeing the standards and conduct of councils and councillors.

Read how to make a complaint.

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