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 4: Total devolved public sector employment by sector; Scotland, Headcount

Not Seasonally Adjusted

Total Devolved
Public Sector
NHS 6 Civil Service 8,9 Police and Fire Services 2 Further Education Colleges 3,5 Other Public Bodies 3,8 Local Government 2,4,6,7,11,12 Public Corporations 10 Estimated Total Devolved Public Sector excluding major reclassifications
Q1 1999 471,100 129,000 14,600 - 15,700 8,500 294,000 9,000 471,100
Q1 2012 505,600 154,400 16,600 - 15,200 14,400 285,000 20,000 492,000
Q1 2013 502,500 156,500 16,600 - 13,900 15,200 279,000 21,000 488,300
Q1 2014 503,200 158,800 16,900 28,700 13,700 13,900 249,000 23,000 488,500
Q1 2015 505,300 160,700 17,500 28,400 13,800 14,000 249,000 22,000 490,600
Q1 2016 504,000 161,700 16,900 28,200 14,200 15,300 245,000 23,000 489,000
Q1 2017 502,800 162,600 17,000 27,800 14,000 15,400 243,000 23,000 487,700
Q1 2018 505,500 163,100 17,400 27,500 14,000 15,500 245,000 23,000 490,400
Change on year to:
Q1 2018 2,740 460 420 -300 0 140 1,640 390 2,740
% change on year:
Q1 2018 0.5% 0.3% 2.5% -1.1% 0.0% 0.9% 0.7% 1.7% 0.6%


1. Employment figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred, with the exception of local government and public corporation figures; change on year rounded to the nearest ten; percentages are based on unrounded figures. "-" denotes blank entries. Totals may not equal the sum of individual parts due to rounding.

2. 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 all police staff have been included within Police and Fire (and not the Other Public Bodies category) from Q2 2013.

3. 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).

4. 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.

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

6. 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 2012 1,491 & 1062.1 FTE headcount staff transferred from Highland Council to NHS Highland as a result of the move to integrated health and social care services.

7. 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.

8. 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.

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

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

11. From Q3 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.

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

13. From Q2 2017, the Public Corporations includes the Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management).


Email: Mhairi Wallace

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