Our Approach

Your local voice, nationally - COSLA logo

We’re here to help councils build better and more equal local communities.  To do that we want to empower local decision making and enable councils to do what works locally.  

The COSLA Plan sets out the vision and overall priorities that our members have set.

It focuses on the key priorities facing councils and on the support that they need from us to achieve better outcomes across the country. It covers the period 2017- 2022, and will be reviewed and updated annually.  From Autumn 2017, the high level priorities set out in the COSLA Plan will also be supported by a detailed Leaders Work-Plan, and Work-Plans for each of COSLA's four Policy Boards.

The Plan sets out the following priorities for 2017-2018:

Local Government Funding

Getting a fair deal for COSLA members on public spending priorities, and negotiating greater local financial freedoms and powers.

UK Exit from the European Union

Securing a strong voice for local government throughout negotiations, devolution of powers in the new landscape, and support for councils to address change.

Democracy and Reform

Empowering local people through strong local democratic rights and elected leadership, and rethinking public services through collective reform of public services focused on local places.

Education and Children's Services

Working with councils to put children at the centre of our approach, by delivering positive outcomes based on the principles of GIRFEC, and ensuring local accountability for all Children’s Services including Education.

Health and Social Care

Supporting local government and Integrated Joint Boards to address demographic and financial challenges, enabling communities to live healthy, independent lives, and promoting an outcomes and prevention culture.

Local Economies and Inclusive Growth

Building strong and sustainable communities by enabling councils to drive inclusive economic growth and investment in business support, economic development, skills and regeneration.

A United Voice for Local Government

Strengthening and developing the way COSLA works by focusing on its members, communicating effectively, and championing key issues.

Effective Shared Services

Continuously improving the myjobscotland, Trading Standards Scotland, and Business Gateway services we provide directly for councils and their partners.


You can download a copy of the Plan here, or read it online below. 



The COSLA Plan also sets out the principles that guide us.  We often help find national solutions to local issues, but we also know that Scotland is a diverse place. That’s why we always work with councils so that they have flexibility to reflect the circumstances and priorities of their communities. 

We do this in many ways, but we’re always guided by five key principles:

  • STRENGTHENING LOCAL DEMOCRACY: Taking decisions as close as possible to the people they affect.

  • WORKING TOGETHER LOCALLY: Joining up public services to get better results and greater efficiency in the places they serve. 

  • DELIVERING OUTCOMES: Making a long-term difference to people’s lives by focusing on impact not inputs, and by preventing problems before they arise.

  • FOCUSING ON COMMUNITIES: Building services around local priorities, and being accountable to local people.

  • DEFENDING LOCAL CHOICES: Freeing up councils to reflect local circumstances and have flexibility over local decisions and resources.