Our work programme

Please be aware our summary of work programme is currently subject to review due to Covid-19 containment measures.

Our work programme

This programme sets out work that Audit Scotland will carry out from 2020/21 to 2023/24 on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission, who refresh the programme each year and consult with stakeholders on its content.

The work programme covers a range of public sector bodies and services. The programme sets out work in detail for the next two years and indicates the proposed areas of work for the three years beyond. Our programme includes annual audit work and statutory reports. To find out more about the broad range of work that we do, visit our work pages.


Work programme 2020/21 to 2023/24

Click on each date below to see the planned programme for that year. Contact details for key staff involved in specific audit areas are included. 

For general programme information, contact us at workprogramme@audit-scotland.gov.uk.

Overview reporting

These reports assess the overall performance of key parts of the public sector, such as the NHS, local government and colleges.

overview reporting

Read more about the overview reports we will publish in 2020/21

NHS in Scotland 2020Published 17 February 2021 on behalf of the Auditor General

NHS in Scotland 2020 report cover

Staff across the NHS and Scottish Government took early action during the first wave in 2020, including increasing intensive care capacity and pausing non-urgent treatment. Service innovation, such as a huge rise in video consultations, also happened within weeks and it is important these are learned from. However, there is now a substantial backlog of patients, with NHS boards prioritising those in most urgent need. It will be hard to deal with this backlog alongside the financial and operational challenges already faced by boards.

Read more about the NHS in Scotland 2020 report


Local government in Scotland: Financial overview 2019/20Published 26 January 2021 on behalf of the Accounts Commission

Local government in Scotland report cover

Council finances increased in 2019/20, but Covid-19 will intensify pressures.

Funding received by councils from the Scottish Government increased by £500 million in 2019/20. But Covid-19 will drive large rises in costs and spending, combined with falling income.

Read more about the Local government in Scotland: Financial overview report

Further information:

Audit Manager: Blyth Deans


Local government in Scotland: Challenges and performanceTo be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

We will use the wider overview report to highlight issues that the Commission, through its strategy, has identified as being of greatest importance. We will also report on:

  • current and future challenges councils are facing, and the pressures on key services;
  • how councils have responded to budgetary pressures and changing demand on services, for example through workforce reductions and service redesign; and
  • councils’ performance and progress in meeting challenges

Performance audits

Performance audit reports focus on efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public resources. They can consider issues such as: implementation of public service reforms; value for money; use of resources, and service performance and sustainability.

performance audit

Read more about the performance audits we will undertake in 2020/21

Affordable housingPublished 9 April 2020 on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Affordable housing

This report is about the Scottish Government’s target to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by March 2021.

Read more about our Affordable housing report

Further information:

Senior Manager: Kate Berry


Improving outcomes for young people through school educationPublished 23 March on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Improving outcomes report cover

Progress on closing the poverty-related attainment gap between the most and least deprived school pupils has been limited. And more evidence is needed to understand educational achievement beyond exams.

Read more about the Improving outcomes report

Further information:

Senior Manager: Tricia Meldrum


Digital progress in local governmentPublished 14 January 2021 on behalf of the Accounts Commission

Digital progress in local government report cover

Responding to Covid-19 has increased the pace at which Scotland's 32 councils are delivering services through digital technology. Greater collaboration, use of shared expertise, citizen engagement and strategic planning are needed, however, to fully realise the potential of digital technology.

Read more about our Digital progress in local government report

Further information:

Senior Manager: Morag Campsie

Audits of Best Value

These reports audit how well councils are meeting their statutory duty of Best Value. This includes an assessment each year of aspects of Best Value as part of an integrated annual audit. In addition, a public Best Value Assurance Report (BVAR) for each council will be published at least once in a five year period that will bring together an overall picture of the council drawn from a range of audit activity and the work of other scrutiny bodies.

Best Value audits

Read more about the Best Value reports we will publish in 2020/21

Seven Best Value reports will be published this year:

Best Value assessments featured in the annual audit reports for the other 25 councils.

How councils work

This is a series of publications designed to support improvement in local government.

how councils work

Read more about the How councils work reports we will publish in 2020/21

Topic of How councils work to be agreed by the Accounts Commission during 2020/21.

Impact reports

These reports summarise the impact of a performance audit. They are published around 18 months after the audit report, and cover the response to the report, and how conclusions and recommendations were acted upon by audited bodies and others, such as the Parliament.

impact reports

Read more about the impact reports we're doing in 2020/21

Equal pay in councils - Impact reportPublished 9 June 2020 on behalf of the Accounts Commission

Equal pay in councils - Impact report

Councils urged to keep focus on equal pay.

Scotland's local government watchdog has praised councils for their progress in settling equal pay claims, but says they expect councils to maintain their focus on unresolved cases.

Our impact reports are considered by the Accounts Commission 18 months after publication of our performance audits.

Read more about our Equal pay in councils report


The order in which reports are published might change depending on any significant policy developments that impact on audit recommendations:

Overview reporting

These reports assess the overall performance of key parts of the public sector, such as the NHS, local government and colleges.

overview reporting

Read more about the overview reports we will publish in 2021/22

NHS in Scotland 2021To be published on behalf of the Auditor General

This is our annual report on how the NHS in Scotland is performing. The overall aim of the audit is to answer the question: How well is the NHS in Scotland performing and is it equipped to deal with the challenges ahead?


Scotland’s colleges 2021To be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Our report will comment on the sector’s performance from a financial and non-financial perspective. We will also highlight any future challenges the sector faces.


Local government in Scotland: Financial overview To be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

This report provides a high-level independent analysis of the financial performance of councils. It draws upon councils’ audited accounts and other sources of financial information.


Local government in Scotland: Challenges and performanceTo be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

We will use the wider overview report to highlight issues that the Commission, through its strategy, has identified as being of greatest importance. We will also report on:

  • current and future challenges councils are facing, and the pressures on key services;
  • how councils have responded to budgetary pressures and changing demand on services, for example through workforce reductions and service redesign; and
  • councils’ performance and progress in meeting challenges

Performance audits

Performance audit reports focus on efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public resources. They can consider issues such as: implementation of public service reforms; value for money; use of resources, and service performance and sustainability.

performance audit

Read more about the performance audits we will undertake in 2021/22

Social securityTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Social security

This is the next in the series of performance audits of Scotland's new social security powers.

Read more about our social security audit

Further information:

Senior Manager: Gemma Diamond


Investing in skills To be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Having the right skills available within the working age population, and equity of opportunity for learners are central to the Scottish Government’s priority of economic growth. This audit will look at how effectively the Scottish Government works with relevant stakeholders (including the Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland) to identify and develop the skills needed for the economy and wider society. The audit will assess the effectiveness of skills planning, and what progress has been made with changes proposed through the Enterprise and Skills Review.

Further information:

Senior Manager: Rebecca Seidel


Development of Scotland's new agriculture and fishing policyTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Fair access to higher educationTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

City Deals 2To be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Community justiceTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Digital services: learning or justiceTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission (to be confirmed)

Early learning and childcare seriesTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Improving outcomes for looked after children and young peopleTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Workforce planning post-EU withdrawalTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Local government servicesTo be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

Audits of Best Value

These reports audit how well councils are meeting their statutory duty of Best Value. This includes an assessment each year of aspects of Best Value as part of an integrated annual audit. In addition, a public Best Value Assurance Report (BVAR) for each council will be published at least once in a five year period that will bring together an overall picture of the council drawn from a range of audit activity and the work of other scrutiny bodies.

Best Value audits

Read more about the Best Value reports we will publish in 2021/22

Six Best Value reports to be confirmed following the 2020/21 shared risk assessment process.

Best Value assessments featured in the annual audit reports for the other 26 councils.

How councils work

This is a series of publications designed to support improvement in local government.

how councils work

Read more about How councils work reports we will publish in 2021/22

Future approach to How councils work to be agreed by the Accounts Commission.

Impact reports

These reports summarise the impact of a performance audit. They are published around 18 months after the audit report, and cover the response to the report, and how conclusions and recommendations were acted upon by audited bodies and others, such as the Parliament.

impact reports

Read more about the impact reports we will publish in 2021/22

The order in which reports are published might change depending on any significant policy developments that impact on audit recommendations:

Enabling digital government

Finances of Scottish universities

NHS workforce 2: primary care clinical workforce

Skills planning and investment

City Deals

EU withdrawal

Revenue financing of assets: the Non-profit distributing (NPD) and Hub models

Overview reporting

These reports assess the overall performance of key parts of the public sector, such as the NHS, local government and colleges.

overview reporting

Read more about the overview reports we will publish in 2022/23

NHS in Scotland 2022To be published on behalf of the Auditor General

This is our annual report on how the NHS in Scotland is performing. The overall aim of the audit is to answer the question: How well is the NHS in Scotland performing and is it equipped to deal with the challenges ahead?


Scotland’s colleges 2022To be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Our report will comment on the sector’s performance from a financial and non-financial perspective. We will also highlight any future challenges the sector faces.


Local government in Scotland: Financial overview To be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

This report provides a high-level independent analysis of the financial performance of councils. It draws upon councils’ audited accounts and other sources of financial information.


Local government in Scotland: Challenges and performanceTo be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

We will use the wider overview report to highlight issues that the Commission, through its strategy, has identified as being of greatest importance. We will also report on:

  • current and future challenges councils are facing, and the pressures on key services;
  • how councils have responded to budgetary pressures and changing demand on services, for example through workforce reductions and service redesign; and
  • councils’ performance and progress in meeting challenges

Performance audits

Performance audit reports focus on efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public resources. They can consider issues such as: implementation of public service reforms; value for money; use of resources, and service performance and sustainability.

performance audit

Read more about the performance audits we will undertake in 2022/23

Digital in healthTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Social securityTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Strategic capital investment To be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Supporting economic growth: Enterprise and Skills ReviewTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Housing for an older populationTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Mental healthTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Progress in addressing child povertyTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Replacing Structural FundsTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Local government servicesTo be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

Audits of Best Value

These reports audit how well councils are meeting their statutory duty of Best Value. This includes an assessment each year of aspects of Best Value as part of an integrated annual audit. In addition, a public Best Value Assurance Report (BVAR) for each council will be published at least once in a five year period that will bring together an overall picture of the council drawn from a range of audit activity and the work of other scrutiny bodies.

Best Value audits

Read more about the Best Value reports we will publish in 2022/23

End of five-year audit appointment cycle.

To be confirmed following 2021/22 shared risk assessment process.

How councils work

This is a series of publications designed to support improvement in local government.

how councils work

Read more about How councils work reports we will publish in 2022/23

Future approach to How councils work to be agreed by the Accounts Commission.

Impact reports

These reports summarise the impact of a performance audit. They are published around 18 months after the audit report, and cover the response to the report, and how conclusions and recommendations were acted upon by audited bodies and others, such as the Parliament.

impact reports

Read more about the impact reports we will publish in 2022/23

The order in which reports are published might change depending on any significant policy developments that impact on audit recommendations:

Commonwealth Games legacy

Educational Outcomes

Housing

Outcomes for children with additional support needs

Social care sustainability

Waste management

Digital progress in local government

Supporting economic growth: the role of local authorities

Overview reporting

These reports assess the overall performance of key parts of the public sector, such as the NHS, local government and colleges.

overview reporting

Read more about the overview reports we will publish in 2023/24

NHS in Scotland 2023To be published on behalf of the Auditor General

This is our annual report on how the NHS in Scotland is performing. The overall aim of the audit is to answer the question: How well is the NHS in Scotland performing and is it equipped to deal with the challenges ahead?

Further information:

Senior Manager: Leigh Johnston


Scotland’s colleges 2023To be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Our report will comment on the sector’s performance from a financial and non-financial perspective. We will also highlight any future challenges the sector faces.

Further information:

Senior Manager: Mark MacPherson


Local government in Scotland: Financial overview To be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

This report provides a high-level independent analysis of the financial performance of councils. It draws upon councils’ audited accounts and other sources of financial information.

Further information:

Senior Manager: Carol Calder


Local government in Scotland: Challenges and performanceTo be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

We will use the wider overview report to highlight issues that the Commission, through its strategy, has identified as being of greatest importance. We will also report on:

  • current and future challenges councils are facing, and the pressures on key services;
  • how councils have responded to budgetary pressures and changing demand on services, for example through workforce reductions and service redesign; and
  • councils’ performance and progress in meeting challenges

Further information:

Senior Manager: Carol Calder

Performance audits

Performance audit reports focus on efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public resources. They can consider issues such as: implementation of public service reforms; value for money; use of resources, and service performance and sustainability.

performance audit

Read more about the performance audits we will undertake in 2023/24

Climate change planTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Digital: progress against digital strategyTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Public energy companyTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Scottish investment bankTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Social securityTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Support to rail servicesTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Health and social care 3To be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Local government servicesTo be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

Audits of Best Value

These reports audit how well councils are meeting their statutory duty of Best Value. This includes an assessment each year of aspects of Best Value as part of an integrated annual audit. In addition, a public Best Value Assurance Report (BVAR) for each council will be published at least once in a five year period that will bring together an overall picture of the council drawn from a range of audit activity and the work of other scrutiny bodies.

Best Value audits

Read more about the Best Value reports we will publish in 2023/24

New appointment cycle. The approach to Best Value audit in councils is to be agreed.

How councils work

This is a series of publications designed to support improvement in local government.

how councils work

Read more about How councils work reports we will publish in 2023/24

Future approach to How councils work to be agreed by the Accounts Commission.

Impact reports

These reports summarise the impact of a performance audit. They are published around 18 months after the audit report, and cover the response to the report, and how conclusions and recommendations were acted upon by audited bodies and others, such as the Parliament.

impact reports

Read more about the impact reports we will publish in 2023/24

The order in which reports are published might change depending on any significant policy developments that impact on audit recommendations:

Development of Scotland's new agriculture and fishing policy

Fair access to higher education

City Deals 2

Community justice

Digital services: learning or justice

Early learning and childcare series

Improving outcomes for looked after children and young people

Workforce planning post-EU withdrawal

Accounts Commission performance audit