Public bodies play an important role in the delivery of public services in Scotland. Their functions range from health and social care to the arts, culture and the built environment.
We provide funding to public bodies to promote, deliver, fund and scrutinise public services, or to provide impartial expert advice to Ministers, the Parliament, the public and other organisations that deliver public services.
Public bodies contribute to delivering the National Outcomes set out in the National Performance Framework, and carry out statutory, regulatory and advisory functions at arm's length from central government.
We support public bodies by:
- maintaining a national directory of public bodies
- providing advice and guidance for public bodies on governance, compliance, collaboration and establishment
- offering support for new board members
- appointing a diverse and effective public bodies workforce through open and transparent public appointments
- helping public bodies to work with other organisations to improve public services
Public bodies are one type of organisation within Scotland's devolved public sector, which collectively includes the police, fire and health services, local government, and others.
A public body is an organisation for which either the Scottish Government or Scottish Parliament is responsible and with whom they have a direct relationship. Not all public sector bodies share the same relationship with government, or operate within the same public bodies framework.
Public bodies in Scotland
There are currently 120 public bodies directly under our control.
In Scotland we have the following types of public bodies:
- executive agencies
- Non Ministerial Departments (NMDs)
- executive Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs)
- advisory NDPBs
- tribunal NDPBs
- public corporations
- health bodies
- parliamentary bodies
- other significant national bodies
All public bodies in Scotland are listed in the national public bodies directory.
Certain public bodies are covered by the ethical standards framework that arose from the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2003.
We have produced an ethical standards in public life framework: factsheet to explain the background behind the framework, and a list of all public bodies covered by the ethical standards framework.
Bills and legislation
- Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010
- Public Appointments and Public Bodies etc. (Scotland) Act 2003
- Ethical Standards in Public Life etc.(Scotland) Act 2000
- Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011
- Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
- The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015
- Equality Act 2010
- Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018
- The Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005
Telephone: 0131 244 0383
Public Bodies Unit
The Scottish Government
Area 3F (North)
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ