Resource Spending Review Framework: Analysis of consultation responses

Analysis of responses to our consultation on the Resource Spending Review.

4. Public sector workforce

The third section of the Framework outlined the Scottish Government's proposed approach to the spending review, including consideration of how we might optimise the delivery of outcomes through the effective deployment of the public sector workforce.

Q3: In Chapter 2 we identified the growth of the public sector workforce as a keydriver of public spending. How can we use policy interventions to maximise the value achieved from the public sector workforce in the effective delivery of public services, while ensuring the sector is an attractive, rewarding place to work?

We welcome your views on this.

Responses spanned several aspects, including the workforce, finance, and the third sector, discussed below.


Responses on maximising the value from the public sector workforce were mostly centred around workforce training and development, smarter investment in public services and the third sector, fair and equitable workforce remuneration, recruitment, retention, and the improvement in the flexibility of working conditions.

A number of organisations identified the key elements required to ensure staff in the public sector were well equipped for their roles and appropriately rewarded. For example, Children in Scotland commented: "Staff must be valued for their roles, given stability, resources, support, flexible working opportunities and fair pay in order to make the public sector an attractive and rewarding place to work." Public Health Scotland said that "continued investment" in the public sector workforce is needed "to deliver the best quality services and to address social and economic inequalities".

Regarding workforce training and development,EAUC Scotland commented: "A policy commitment for all public sector staff to undergo basic training aligned to sustainable development and Scotland's contribution to a net-zero and fairer future (covering the three Spending Review priorities), and/or to align staff reviews to these priorities, would help align the Public Sector workforce towards delivering these priorities where appropriate."

On workforce recruitment and retention, the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland commented: "Critically, the pressures of the pandemic are likely to exacerbate pre-existing retention of senior staff as we emerge from the pandemic. Efforts are therefore needed not just to bring more staff into mental health services, but to retain those already in place."

Similarly, Support in Mind Scotland called on the government to provide mental health care and support to the health and social care workforce and increase mental health training for staff and managers and ensure easily accessible services.

The Scottish Science Advisory Council also urged the government to target policy interventions toward the generation and retention of skills and expertise in emerging areas and support for more diverse and sustainable career paths.

Discouraging the use of contractors, the David Hume Institute commented: "The data shows there has been a dramatic rise in use of contractors which can lead to higher costs and increased turnover resulting in a loss of expertise. It should also be considered how this relates to the Scottish Government's Fair Work commitments."

From individual respondents, there were calls to make the public sector more competitive and attractive, address the flexi-time system and pension scheme, strike a balance between the public and private sector, overhaul management structures, and introduce the LEAN methodology into administrative operations. There were also calls for increased staff and resources for the ambulance and mental health services to reduce the policing burden and clear distinctions on the duty of care between the various services.

Third sector

As observed from previous responses, most voluntary organisations called for the recognition and reward of the third sector's pivotal role in public service provision and the delivery of preventive approaches.

Among several responses, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) called on the Scottish Government to invest in the training and development of civil servants overseeing funding relationships with voluntary organisations, for equitable funding. Young Scot encouraged the Scottish Government to ensure that the third sector is supported to continue to deliver public services, together with the public sector workforce.

Participants at the Third Sector Roundtable suggested that there were opportunities to develop leaders and improve succession planning through more collaboration between the third sector and public sector. Suggested mechanisms included further secondments between the sectors and further knowledge sharing, especially at collective leadership events.

In response to Question 4, some responses included comments related to this question. Penumbra called on the government to explicitly include the third sector in referring to the public sector workforce, whilst the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations called for workforce training and development within the civil service.


Responses to this question included a number of suggestions relating to finance of the public workforce, with organisations most often referring to examples from the sector they represent. For example, Scotland's Learning Partnership recommended a focus on spending on people and direct service providers rather than institutions and high-level projects. EAUC Scotland called for increased resource funding for colleges and universities to support place-based agenda for sustainable development and increase resources for sector support organisations towards the transition to net-zero. Similarly, Magic Breakfast called for an investment in school partners and the expansion of the public sector workforce to deliver strong policy interventions.

Calling for investment in the educational sector, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) commented: "The EIS does not believe there are any more "efficiencies" left in any part of the education sector. Furthermore, many teachers would argue that more needs to be invested to ensure that the current needs of pupils and young people are met."

The Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland also called for investment in a more sustainable workforce across the mental health care and support pathway.

Individual respondents called on the Scottish Government to invest in channels with effective governance, apply ring-fencing and conditionality to the funding of local authorities, step-up revenue intake and scrutinise pay-outs, replace councils to save wasted money, and increase equitable pay in the public sector.



Back to top