New report highlights extent of councils' economic development activities


Graphic showing statistics from the SLAED Indicators Report 2017/18.The Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development (SLAED) Indicators Report for 2017/18 was published on 6 December 2018. The publication coincided with the SLAED-EDAS annual conference.


The report highlights that:


  • Scottish local authorities employ 1,280 people in economic development and spend £498m on mainstream economic development and tourism activities.
  • In the past year, councils supported over 14,000 local businesses and helped almost 16,500 unemployed people into jobs.
  • Through effective partnership working, councils levered in an additional £1.71 for every £1 of council funding spent on economic development activities.


The report is based on data provided by all 32 of Scotland’s councils. It summarises the wide range of areas where local authorities are making a significant contribution to the economy of Scotland.


The framework on which the report is based is designed to provide a consistent basis for collecting data and evidence on what councils throughout Scotland are delivering as local economic development bodies.  The report highlights the importance of council-led economic development activities, demonstrating the contribution that is made to local and national economic outcomes across Scotland.


The report also reflects the central importance of local authorities in relation to the Scottish Government’s inclusive growth priority.  Councils across Scotland have had a long-standing commitment to economic and social policies that seek to target and support disadvantaged individuals and geographic areas.  Reflecting the commitment to this agenda, eight new inclusive growth measures have been included in the 2017/18 report for the first time.


Jim Savege, CEO of Aberdeenshire Council and SOLACE portfolio lead for economic development, said:


“The achievement of these significant outcomes demonstrates the value that councils place on economic development – both in their direct economic development role and across the broader range of council services that positively impact on the economy.  It also highlights how councils have sought to prioritise this important area, despite operating in a continuing period of intense budget pressures.”


Pamela Smith, Chair of SLAED, said:


“This report summarises the hard work that goes on across Scotland’s councils to support the Scottish economy.  The report is used by councils to understand better where we are making a difference and, importantly, to highlight where there may be scope for us to make an even greater impact.”




  1. The full SLAED Indicators Report 2017/18 can be downloaded at
  2. SLAED (Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development Group) is the professional group for those working in Councils in an economic development role.  SLAED exists to provide a national voice for Local Economic Development in Scotland by linking the work of Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities and bringing a collective influence to bear nationally. The SLAED network is comprised of senior officials from economic development services across all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities   It is a platform for discussing and sharing experience, expertise and best practice on a range of economic development issues relevant to Scotland’s local authorities, and the wider Scottish economy.
  3. SOLACE is the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives.  Economic Development is one of the key priority portfolio themes for SOLACE.
  4. SOLACE and SLAED work alongside other local government partners to promote and deliver a wide range of economic development services.
  5. The report highlights that the economic circumstances of individual council areas can vary significantly, meaning that the challenges, opportunities and responses from councils will necessarily be different across Scotland. This is important to ensuring that tailored economic development approaches are fit for varying local circumstances. These facts mean that any direct comparison of delivery and performance between councils requires to be understood with reference to these individual circumstances.



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© Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development Group, 2015