Stats shed light on SBC performance

There were fewer females in senior administrative posts at the council last year than in Scottish local government as a whole.

Data published by the Scottish Government’s Improvement Service reveals that, in 2013/14, 41 per cent of these roles were carried out by women at SBC, in contrast to 50.7 per cent across Scotland’s 32 councils.

The gender balance is one of 50 so-called “benchmarks” used to assess and compare councils and public satisfaction with the range of services they provide.

In children’s services, for example, the figures show that SBC spent £2,374 on each pre-school pupil compared to £2,999 nationally and £3,838 in Dumfries and Galloway, while the spend per secondary pupil was also lower at £6,500 (£6,523/£7,179 respectively).

Despite that, the percentage of S4 students in the Borders achieving five or more level 5 SCQF qualifications was 46.7 per cent (39.3/ 43.9).

Although just 71 per cent of the Borders public were satisfied with local schools (81, 87), the percentage of school leavers going on to positive destinations – university, college, training or jobs – was 94.2 per cent on this region (92.3, 91).

The data shows that while SBC spent less – £6.72 per household - collecting council tax (£12.13/£9.58), the overall collection rate of 97 per cent was higher than across Scotland and in D & G (95/ 96).

The data shows that SBC’s spend on roads maintenance was £3,546 per kilometre – well below the Scottish average of £6,058, but much higher than in D & G (£2,392).

The Improvement Service report, published at the weekend, urges caution in how the statistics are interpreted “as each council represents communities which are diverse in terms of geography, population and deprivation levels”.

In response to the performance report, Councillor Michael Cook, SBC’s executive member for corporate improvement, said: “Like other councils in Scotland, we face challenges in relation to resources, but we continually look to assess how we are performing in relation to others and to improve our services by identifying best practice.

“We already have officers going to visit other councils to explore how they are improving performance and reducing costs to see if there is anything we can change locally.”