Public sector employment in Scotland: statistics for fourth quarter 2018

Snapshot of public sector employment up to December 2018.

This document is part of 2 collections

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 Categories9 Local Government4,6,8,10,13,15 Public Corporations2 Public Sector Financial Institutions2 Public Corporations & Public Sector Financial Institutions2,3,14
NHS8 Civil Service11,12 Police and Fire4 Further Education Colleges5,7 Armed Forces Other Public Bodies5,11
Q4 1999 551,200 223,500 129,800 48,300 - 15,700 15,100 14,600 296,000 31,000 - 31,000
Q4 2012 597,100 249,700 155,800 44,900 - 13,600 10,400 25,000 278,000 40,000 29,000 69,000
Q4 2013 584,800 279,100 158,100 44,000 29,300 13,600 10,900 23,200 248,000 * * 58,000
Q4 2014 561,100 279,000 160,500 42,500 28,600 13,900 9,700 23,800 247,000 * * 35,000
Q4 2015 560,900 281,000 161,400 42,100 28,200 13,900 10,100 25,300 245,000 * * 35,000
Q4 2016 558,700 281,600 162,300 42,200 27,900 13,900 10,100 25,100 243,000 * * 34,000
Q4 2017 560,100 282,600 163,400 42,500 27,600 13,900 9,900 25,300 243,000 * * 34,000
Q4 2018 553,300 284,500 163,800 42,700 27,800 14,000 9,900 26,200 250,000 * * 19,000
Change on year to:
Q4 2018 -6,860 1,880 400 260 230 140 -30 890 6,640 n/a n/a -15,380
% change on year:
Q4 2018 -1.2% 0.7% 0.2% 0.6% 0.8% 1.0% -0.3% 3.5% 2.7% n/a n/a -45.2%


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 revised between Q4 2006 and Q4 2016 to replace estimated data with actual data. Actual figures have been 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. From Q3 2018 Registered Social Landlords is no longer included in this series as a result of being reclassified to the private sector.

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).

17. From Q1 1999, the Local Government figures include Cosla. This series has been estimated using annual administrative data from the inter-departmental business register until Q4 2009 and actual data from Q1 2010 onwards.

18. Public Corporations & Public Sector Financial Institutions includes the following additional series: Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd from Q1 2008, British Wool Marketing Board from Q3 2009, The Oil and Pipeline Agency from Q1 2013, Medical Research Council Technology from Q1 2016, Awe Management Ltd from Q1 2014, NPL Management LtD from Q2 2017 and Shared Services Connect Limted from Q4 2015 to Q2 2017.

19. Other Public Bodies includes Bòrd na Gàidhlig from Q4 2010, Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland from Q2 2011, Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland from Q2 2004, Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission from Q4 2010, Scottish Commission for Human Rights from Q1 2008, Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureau from Q2 2005, Oil and Gas Authority from Q2 2015 and Information Commissioner's Office from Q1 2015.

20. From Q3 2018, Social Security Scotland has been added to the Civil Service figures.

21. In September 2018, Cordia services moved back under Glasgow City Council services, explaining part of the increase in local government employment.


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