Research and data

Research and Data in Scottish Borders

We aim to make decisions on everything from corporate plans to community funding allocations based on the best possible evidence. We want to enable others to do the same.

Recent Demographic Reports and Statistics Releases

Government organisations provide many free resources that make it possible for us to use the latest evidence and intelligence to make better decisions about our area. Below is an ongoing list of recent (annual or less frequent) publications which contain information about demographics and socio-economic data that are relevant to Scottish Borders. 

For datasets that are updated more frequently than once a year, including quarterly reports and weekly COVID-19 updates, please see the Demographic Statistics by organisation section.

Some of these resources, such as reports, infographics and news releases, are presented in an easy to understand, ready to use way. Others, such as data tables and small-area statistics, require knowledge of spreadsheets and mapping tools. If you are a Scottish Borders citizen, Community Planning partner or community group and need any free advice on how to get the best out of these resources, contact our research and information team and we will be able to help you.  




  • December: We published the latest Active Schools Participation in Scottish Borders school clusters, updated for 2018-19
  • February: We published the 2018 Scottish Borders Household Survey (SBHS) to gauge customer perceptions on a range of social issues, and to gather information about their lifestyle and behaviour. Some of the questions mimic the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) and Scottish Survey Core Questions, and others are tailored more specifically to improving local service delivery. Unlike the SHS, the SBHS can give results at Locality (area partnership) level
  • 25 February: Scottish Government released the Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS): Local Authority analyses to 2016-18. The SHCS is a sample taken from the Scottish Household Survey which asks detailed questions about heating and insulation, energy efficiency, disrepair and fuel affordability. It is the main source of informaton about Fuel Poverty and dwellings that fail the Scottish Housing Quality Standard by Local Authority area


The Director of Public Heatlh released the Scottish Borders Director of Public Health (DPH) Report 2018, in cooperation with NHS Borders and ourselves. This sets out the public health priorities that have been selected in a multi-agency agreement to improve the health of the Scottish Borders public.

Demographic Statistics by organisation

  • Local Government Benchworking Framework (LGBF) is a high-level data server run by the Improvement Service to measure and compare performance-related information about Scotland's Local Authority areas. The searchable dashboard contains some useful demographic information about Scottish Borders
  • National Records of Scotland (NRS) is a non-Ministerial Department of the Scottish Government that collects, preserves and produces information about Scotland's people and history. NRS is responsible for recording population and household data, Vital Events (Births, Marriages and Deaths), Census records and all public archives of people and property since 1801 or before. Apart from the annual publications releases listed above, it also records and publishes more frequent updates where necessary, including Quarterly Vital Events and Weekly COVID-19 updates
  • NOMIS is the data observatory for Official Labour Market Statistics, provided by Durham University on behalf of the Office of National Statistics (ONS). It gives free access to the most detailed and up-to-date UK labour market statistics from official sources, from Country and Local Authority level to Scottish Data Zones. Its particularly useful products include Annual Population Survey/Labour Force Survey (APS/LFS), Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), the British Register and Employment Survey (BRES) and the Unemployment Claimant Counts and Rates, which are the official measures of unemployment for the UK
  • Parentzone Scotland is a searchable dashboard providing information on Scotland's schools. Education Scotland is the national body for supporting quality and improvement in learning and teaching. The dashboard brings together performance, attainment and inspection reports on every school in Scotland
  • Scotland's Census is the resource and data centre for the 2011 Census.  The Census has been giving us a 10-year snapshot of the characteristics of our society and population since 1801.  It prroduces a huge volume of highly accurate data, which show medium and long-term trends at any scale.  Census data are essential for long-term change forecasting and management, as well as for adjusting the population figures used in everyday policy.  Find out more about how Census data are used in Scottish Borders.
  • ScotPHO OPT (Scottish Public Health Obseratory Online Profiling Tool) is a data observatory of health and wellbeing-related information in Scottish local areas. The data server contains hundreds of public health-related indicators, which are recorded and kept by the Information and Statistics Division of NHS Scotland. It is the first port of call for any health-related information at any level of geography from Scotland and Council level to Intermediate Datazone
  • Scottish Borders Council Business Advice and Support Service publishes a number of products, including the regularly updated Economic Bulletin and Economic Information and analysis
  • Scottish Borders Council Planning Department produces plans and research such as Employment Land Audit, Housing Land Audit, Retail Survey and Town Centre footfall
  • Scottish Statistics Open Data Platform is the Scottish Government's Neighbourhood Statistics data server which brings together all available datasets of demographic, performance-related and socio-economic information at any area of geography from Scotland and Council Area to Data Zone. Many Scottish Government departments and data providers upload all their latest updates directly to the Open Data Platform, making it the first port of call for useful information
  • Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is Scotland's National skills body for adults aged 16-19, which promotes skills attainment for economic development in Scotland. SDS produces data on Modern Apprenticeships, Annual Participation Measures (School leaver destinations) and the Employability fund
  • Stat-Xplore is a data server tool run by Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to explore DWP Welfare Benefit statistics for the UK. Statistics for Scotland are usually available at Local Authority level. Access is free but registration and login details are required

Using official statistics and evidence to support policy

Although the products listed above are usually free to use to the public, they sometimes need a little know-how and knowledge of GIS software, spreadsheets and interpretation to get the best out of them.

Our research and information team helps our Community Planning partners and the public to use the official statistics and any other resources, including their own data, as management information to evidence policy and help make better decisions.

Why use evidence?

The Local Government In Scotland Act 2003 states that we should provide our services in a way that is transparent, robust, informed and accountable. This includes making use of information and guidance, wherever available. In addition, many of the policies and plans that we support are governed by statute. All Statutory functions we provide should be informed by a relevant evidence base. This requirement is reinforced by the Christie Commission on the Future delivery of Public Services, which provides a mandate for good practice in research and information for local government.

We also use research and data so that Scottish Borders can play its part in the Scottish Government National Performance Framework, which has 11 national outcomes:

  • children and young people should grow up loved, safe and respected so they can realise their full potential
  • economy should be globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable
  • fair work and business with quality jobs and thriving, innovative businesses
  • international reputation, we are open for business to the world and make a positive contribution
  • communities should be inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe
  • education should be effective in producing a well-educated and skilled adult population that is able to play their part
  • health, wellbeing and physical activity are a priority
  • tackling poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally
  • culture should be vibrant, creative and diverse, through activities that express who we are and are widely enjoyable 
  • environment is valued, enjoyed, protected and enhanced
  • human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled, and free from discrimination

All corporate policies, from the Corporate Plan to locality plans and service-specific strategies, begin with extensive research and analysis of the latest Official Statistics. To help us do this, we produce a Strategic Assessment every two years or so to give us an objective summary of the latest demographic and socio-economic trends in the region.

Free consultancy service

Anyone who lives and works in Scottish Borders can ask us to help them access official statistics to support their business needs, whether it be for a specific purpose such as a funding application, or whether they need to find out more about their local area for any other reason. This is a free consultancy service and we will endeavour to collate the information within the timescales as requested.

Community Profiling of Scottish Borders areas

As a by-product of all the Official Statistics we download and analyse, we can provide an Area or Community Profile on request, by pulling together information from all available sources into a ready-to-use report with maps, text, tables and graphs. This can be for any area in Scottish Borders and for any topic area, or a range of key indicators for a range of topic areas.

Scottish Borders areas can be any of the following:

A Community profile can contain information on the following topics, subject to the information being available for your chosen geography:

If you would like further information at Council Ward level, contact our research and information team.