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

Not Seasonally Adjusted

Total Devolved Public Sector NHS6 Civil Service8,9 Police and Fire Services2 Further Education Colleges3,5 Other Public Bodies3,8 Local Government2,4,6,7,11,12 Public Corporations10 Estimated Total Devolved Public Sector excluding major reclassifications
Q4 1999 474,500 129,800 14,500 - 15,700 8,600 296,000 9,000 474,500
Q4 2012 500,100 155,800 16,400 - 13,600 15,300 278,000 20,000 486,000
Q4 2013 501,600 158,100 16,700 29,300 13,600 13,800 248,000 22,000 487,000
Q4 2014 503,700 160,500 17,300 28,600 13,900 14,100 247,000 22,000 489,000
Q4 2015 503,400 161,400 16,800 28,200 13,900 15,300 245,000 22,000 488,400
Q4 2016 502,000 162,300 16,800 27,900 13,900 15,400 243,000 23,000 486,900
Q4 2017 504,200 163,400 17,300 27,600 13,900 15,400 243,000 23,000 489,300
Q4 2018 498,200 163,800 18,200 27,800 14,000 15,800 250,000 8,000 498,200
Change on year to:
Q4 2018 -6,050 400 930 230 140 380 6,640 -14,770 8,900
% change on year:
Q4 2018 -1.2% 0.2% 5.4% 0.8% 1.0% 2.4% 2.7% -63.9% 1.8%


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. From Q3 2018 Registered Social Landlords is no longer included in this series as a result of being reclassified to the private sector.

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.

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).

14. 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.

15. Public Corporations includes Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd from Q1 2008.

16. Civil Servants includes Social Security Scotland from Q3 2018.

17. Local Government includes Cosla from Q1 1999. 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. 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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