Scottish Economy

Weekly update – NCS, the NHS and the ONS

Away from the drama of Westminster, here is your guide to some of the other goings on in the Scottish political-economy world.

The Health, Social Care and Sport Committee published the Stage 1 Report on the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill. A lot has changed since the Bill first was presented to parliament, with some of the original intensions scrapped (most notably the decision not to transfer responsibility from local government to ministers). The report has a number of recommendations that catch our eye. There is a clear ask for a comprehensive process for monitoring and evaluation so that the NCS itself (and others) can effectively monitor progress. The Committee has asked the government to consider how Fair Work can be better defined and consistently applied in the NCS. The Committee also raise concerns that the Scottish Government hasn’t been able to clarify more detail over what the NCS will look like, and that whilst a stakeholder co-design process is no bad thing, there should be an ongoing updates to the Parliament during and at the end of the process. The Committee cites evidence from stakeholders over the definition and scope of the co-design process, and concerns that the principle of co-design has already been seriously undermined by the agreement with COSLA for responsibility to stay with local government. It will be interesting to see how the Scottish Government respond.

Also related to Health and Social Care, the Auditor General produced a report this week on the NHS. If you are interested in what it says about progress on grappling with health inequalities, this tweet thread provides an overview. The main takeaway from reading the rest of the report is that progress is being made on health service delivery under very challenging fiscal circumstances but there are some significant concerns over patient experience and safety. There was a clear warning over the need for the Scottish Government to develop a national strategy for health and social care, recognising that without reform there are clear risks for long term financial sustainability. If the Scottish Government heed this advice, this can’t simply be a glossy document explaining what they are already doing and why- it must focus minds on making systematic change and providing the detail and resources required to deliver that change.

In the weekly update last week, we talked about the implications of some of the new Labour Market data that the ONS had released following the postponement of reporting headline measures due to concerns over sample size. For those able to access it, the Financial Times wrote a great article on the subject, showing just how low the response rate has become for the Labour Force Survey. Whilst the survey was designed to cope with a response rate of 55%, it has now got as low as 15%. It is fair to say this is disastrous for a survey that is so crucial to our understanding of the economy.

We’d like to thank all those who made it along to our webinar on the economic of independence yesterday. We had over 300 people online, and its great to see such a level of interest, and some great suggestions for the type of work we could/should be doing going forward on the topic.


Emma Congreve is a Principal Knowledge Exchange Fellow and Deputy Director at the Fraser of Allander Institute. Emma's work at the Institute is focussed on policy analysis, covering a wide range of areas of social and economic policy.  Emma is an experienced economist and has previously held roles as a senior economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and as an economic adviser within the Scottish Government.