Research and data in the 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.
Using official statistics and evidence to support policy
Government organisations provide many free resources and Official Statistics to help us make better decisions about our area. We use these official government resources ourselves in our policy research, covering a wide range of topics, as outlined in our People and Place themes. Although Official Statistics 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, or you may need access to a laptop in order to download 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. If you are a Scottish Borders resident and would like some assistance interpreting your data or getting the best out of official demographic statistics, contact us and one of our experienced research staff may be able to help you.
All corporate policies, from the Council 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 the Scottish Borders Strategic Assessment. This is an evidence base which gives a snapshot of the current demographic and socio-economic situation of Scottish Borders, using the latest official statistics and some internally-produced data. It is used as a library of information which helps to inform the Scottish Borders Community Planning Partnership (CPP), Local Outcome Improvement Plans (LOIPs) and Locality Plans. The 2023 Strategic Assessment is structured in five parts around the current CPP priorities and these are available to download, along with the previous (2020) Strategic Assessment summary. Most of the statistics used in these publications are available to the public so if you would like to know more about anything used in the Strategic Assessment, contact us.
Other original publications we produce
Other examples of original pieces of demographic research produced by us using official statistics include:
- Scottish Borders COVID-19 Recovery Index
- Scottish Borders Child Poverty Index 2019 (SB CPI 2019)
- Active Schools Participation in Scottish Borders school clusters, updated for 2018-19
- Scottish Borders Digital Inclusion Index 2017
- Scottish Borders Town Centre Index 2016
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
The Director of Public Health 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. Other Public Health reports are also produced by NHS Borders.
Why we 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
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:
- Scottish Borders region or Borders Health Board area (which share the same boundary)
- five area partnerships, also known as Localities. A selection of Locality Profiles from 2017 is available.
- six learning communities
- 11 Electoral Wards. See the Multi-member Ward Overviews that were compiled to assist incoming Elected Members following the May 2022 Council Elections.
- 26 towns and villages with a population of more than 500 people.
- 30 Intermediate Zones. A selection of Intermediate Zone Profiles for 2022 is available.
- 70 Community Councils
- 143 Scottish Data Zones
- Around 3876 Postcodes . These are too small for area profiling but can be used to identify neighbourhoods.
A wide range of information about any settlement of more than 50 people is available from the 2011 Census - there are hundreds of these in the Scottish Borders.
A Community profile can contain information on the following topics, although not all information is available at all geographical levels:
- population information
- business and economic development
- economic activity, business, jobs, employment and unemployment
- children and early years
- school education, attendance and attainment
- health and wellbeing in children, adults and older people
- support for vulnerable children, adults and older people
- neighbourhood and communities
- inequalities, poverty and deprivation
- environment, energy and waste
- democracy and public services
- transport and traffic
If you would like help finding official statistics information about any of the above topics for your area in the Scottish Borders, contact our research and information team.