Research and data

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.

Demographic statistics

Government organisations provide many free resources to help us to use the latest evidence and intelligence to make better decisions about our area. Below is list of official statistics providers, who produce demographic and socio-economic data that are relevant to the Scottish Borders. Some of the information goes down to a locality or a neighbourhood (Data Zone) level of detail. If you have any queries about the data or want more information, contact the data provider directly.  

  • 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 its main annual datasets and publications, it also records and publishes more frequent updates of fast-moving topics, such as Quarterly Vital Events and COVID-19 updates. NRS population data are also available on the Scottish Statistics Open Data platform
  • 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, with information on pupil numbers and socio-economic characteristics, attendance, class sizes, key stage attainment and senior phase attainment, on a school-by-school basis. For analysis, some of this information is also available on the Scottish Statistics Open Data Platform
  • 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 produces 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 Observatory 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 a good place to start for any health-related information at any level of geography from Scotland and Council level to Intermediate Datazone
  • our Business Advice and Support Service publishes a number of products, including the regularly updated Economic Bulletin and Economic Information and analysis
  • our Planning Department produces plans and research such as Employment Land Audit, Housing Land Audit, Retail Survey and Town Centre footfall
  • Scottish Government publishes the Scottish Household Survey (SHS), the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) and the Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) biennially for the Scottish Borders, together with the Scottish Surveys Core Questions (SSCQ)SSCQ reports produced by our in-house Research Team are available and some of the indicators from these surveys can be downloaded from the Scottish Statistics Open Data Platform
  • Scottish Government also produced the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2020. SIMD is a tool for identifying neighbourhoods (Data Zones) where people experience disadvantage across different aspects of their lives. Find out more about Multiple Deprivation in the Scottish Borders or download it from the Scottish Statistics Open Data Platform
  • 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.  Some of the datasets can be downloaded from the Scottish Statistics Open Data Platform
  • 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. 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.

Examples of original pieces of demographic research produced by us using official statistics include:

We also 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, Local Outcome Improvement Plans (LOIPs) and Locality Plans. A summary of the  Scottish Borders Strategic Assessment 2020 and Strategic Assessments from previous years are available to download. If you would like more detailed reports on the topics in the 2020 Strategic Assessment, contact us.

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

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 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 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:

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.