Public sector employment in Scotland: statistics for first quarter 2018

A snapshot of employment as at March 2018 with distinctions made for employment in devolved bodies and reserved bodies (located in Scotland).

Table 2: Public sector employment by National Accounts Sector Classification; Scotland, Headcount

Not Seasonally Adjusted

Total Public Sector Total Central Government National Accounts Central Government Categories 9 Local Government 4,6,8,10,13,15 Public Corporations 2 Public Sector Financial Institutions 2 Public Corporations & Public Sector Financial Institutions 2,3,14
NHS 8 Civil Service 11,12 Police and Fire 4 Further Education Colleges 5,7 Armed Forces Other Public Bodies 5,11
Q1 1999 545,500 221,900 129,000 48,300 - 15,700 14,800 14,100 294,000 30,000 - 30,000
Q1 2012 605,600 251,200 154,400 46,100 - 15,200 11,200 24,400 285,000 39,000 30,000 69,000
Q1 2013 598,600 251,100 156,500 44,800 - 13,900 11,100 24,800 279,000 39,000 29,000 68,000
Q1 2014 563,400 278,600 158,800 43,500 28,700 13,700 10,600 23,300 249,000 * * 36,000
Q1 2015 561,600 278,800 160,700 42,800 28,400 13,800 9,500 23,600 249,000 * * 34,000
Q1 2016 562,000 281,700 161,700 42,400 28,200 14,200 10,300 25,000 245,000 * * 35,000
Q1 2017 558,900 281,800 162,600 42,300 27,800 14,000 10,100 25,000 243,000 * * 34,000
Q1 2018 561,300 282,400 163,100 42,300 27,500 14,000 9,900 25,600 245,000 * * 34,000
Change on year to:
Q1 2018 2,430 540 460 -20 -300 0 -180 580 1,640 n/a n/a 240
% change on year:
Q1 2018 0.4% 0.2% 0.3% 0.0% -1.1% 0.0% -1.8% 2.3% 0.7% n/a n/a 0.7%


1. Employment figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred. Change on year rounded to the nearest ten. "-" denotes blank entries and "*" denotes entries that have been suppressed for disclosure reasons. Totals may not equal the sum of individual parts due to rounding.

2. Due to the reclassification from the public sector to the private sector of Lloyds Banking Group plc. (Q1 2014), Royal Mail Group plc. (Q4 2013) and Direct Line Group (Q3 2013), a new category has been created combining public corporations with public sector financial institutions to ensure employment figures are not disclosed. Both categories have been merged to produce a backseries prior to the reclassification to allow for calculation of year on year changes.

3. Employment in public corporations & public sector financial institutions has been largely affected by the reclassification of Lloyds Banking Group plc. (and subsidiaries), as well as Royal Mail plc. and Direct Line Group plc.

4. Police and Fire Reform: From Q2 2013 Police and Fire Services have been reclassified as central government rather than local government (as their predecessors were). All police staff are employed by the Scottish Police Authority ( SPA) whether deployed with the SPA or with the Police Service of Scotland. Although the SPA is an ’Other Public Body’ to avoid duplication and ensure comprehensive numbers are reported for the Police and Fire category, from Q2 2013 all police staff have been included within the Police and Fire category (and not in the Other Public Bodies category).

5. In October 2012 the Scottish Agricultural College ( SAC) merged with 3 colleges to form Scotland's Rural College. This new organisation is classified as a public body as the SAC was. This has resulted in staffing levels moving from the Further Education to Other Public Bodies categories to reflect the merger of these organisations. Although the SPA is an ’Other Public Body’ to avoid duplication and ensure comprehensive numbers are reported for the Police and Fire category, from Q2 2013 all police staff have been included within the Police and Fire category (and not in the Other Public Bodies category).

6. A number of local government staff have transferred to arms length organisations which are part of the private sector under National Accounts definitions. For example, staff transferred from Scottish Borders Council to SB Cares on 1st April 2015 and from Angus Council to Angus Alive on 1st December 2015 thus explaining part of the decrease in local government employment.

7. Information for further education colleges in Scotland is based on actual information from Q4 2010. The method used to create the back series is detailed in the background notes of this publication.

8. From Q4 2011, NHS has responsibility for employing Healthcare staff within prisons. Previously, these people were employed directly by the Scottish Prison Service ( SPS). Also in Q2 2011 1,491 & 1,062 FTE headcount staff transferred from Highland Council to NHS Highland as a result of the move to integrated health and social care services.

9. More information on the classification of organisations and institutions in the National Accounts are available in the Sector Classification Guide:

10. Prior to Q2 2006, Scottish Borders Council headcount and FTE figures do not include Casual/Relief employees who were paid in the reference period. This means that these figures underestimate the true headcount and FTE for Scottish Borders Council.

11. In Q4 2015, Historic Scotland (previously part of the devolved civil service) merged with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (a non-departmental public body in the other public bodies category) to become Historic Environment Scotland in the Other Public Bodies category.

12. From Q2 2017, the Civil Service figures include the Scottish Fiscal Commission.

13. From Q4 2006, the Local Government figures include Community Safety Glasgow. The series has been estimated using annual administrative data from the inter-departmental business register. Actual figures are used from Q1 2017 onwards.

14. From Q3 2001, the Public Corporations & Public Sector Financial Institutions include Registered Social Landlords. This series uses estimates which are predominantly based on annual values provided by the Scottish Housing Regulator.

15. Prior to Q1 2016, Aberdeen Council headcount and FTE figures may be an underestimate due to methods used to collate this data.

16. From Q2 2017, the Public Corporations & Public Sector Financial Institutions includes the Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management).


Email: Mhairi Wallace

Back to top