Scotland Communities and society, Democracy, devolution and governance, Economy and regeneration, Health and social care, Welfare and equalities

Local authorities and place and wellbeing outcomes


Our places are facing new challenges. Local authority services play a key role in shaping our places, where people live, work and relax and whether they are healthy, inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. They are our best asset to deliver change, yet they are often under resourced and have capacity and capability issues, which can lead to teams working in silos. There is a growing list of national policy changes local authorities need to deliver on – 20 minute neighbourhoods, place principle, net zero targets, and public health priorities – challenging at the best of times, never mind coordinating all of this while living in a pandemic.

While no sector or discipline can deliver the change alone, there needs to be a consistent approach across organisations but also within local authorities. Local authorities have done a great job at delivering essential services over the last few years, but they are still navigating through the social and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Alongside this Scotland still faces significant inequalities and as the effects of climate change become more present the pressure on local authorities will only increase. We are now faced with an opportunity to create a ‘triple win’ where our places enhance the wellbeing of our planet and our people and create greater equity.

Need for place-based action

When deciding a place’s future, it must be collaborative but how do we make sure that everyone is working towards the same ambition? There is a growing appetite for using place-based approaches. This approach considers all the physical, economic and social elements that make up a place. It considers how an intervention to improve on one of these elements can have unintended positive or negative consequences on another. It involves all partners working collaboratively and focuses all the action, effort and investment in a place. But we still need something to guide us.

Place and Wellbeing Outcomes

Image source: The Improvement Service

This is where the Place and Wellbeing Outcomes come in. They outline all the characteristics of a place that allow those who live,

work and relax there to thrive and they are grounded in the Christie Commission recommendations of people, partnership, prevention and performance.

The Place and Wellbeing Outcomes were designed by the Spatial Planning Health and Wellbeing Collaborative. The collaborative formed to consider the challenges and opportunities the new outcomes in National Planning Framework 4 – to support health and wellbeing and to reduce inequalities – brought to planners. The group highlighted the lack of a consistent and comprehensive list of what every place needs for people to thrive, and conversations with other public health bodies in the UK confirmed that by establishing a set of outcomes for every place it would bring more confidence to all sectors and disciplines.

The Place and Wellbeing Outcomes are for all stakeholders to take collaborative action on delivering in every place. They fall under five overarching themes of:-

  • Movement
  • Spaces
  • Resources
  • Civic
  • Stewardship

Each theme has wording that sits behind it and this is tailored to make sure everyone in a place is being considered.

Evidence about the determinants of health and wellbeing in Scotland’s places had already been used when shaping the Place Standard and this same evidence base supported the development of the Place and Wellbeing Outcomes. They are also the key features of the 20 minute neighbourhood.

How can local authorities use the outcomes?

Local authorities can use the Place and Wellbeing Outcomes to make sure any action taken in a place is bringing about the change people need and ensure everyone is working together as part of a whole system approach to achieve the ‘triple win’.

By embedding the outcomes as part of the decision-making process on policy and implementation local authorities can ensure they have one joined up approach to place. We worked with three local authorities to test their use through a set of three pilot Rapid Scoping Assessments involving local and national input and the public health system. These looked at local, council-wide and regional scales to explore the 20-minute neighbourhood ambition. An evaluation of the process highlighted that it was successful at creating a whole systems working approach and brought together people who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to meet to share expertise. We are now working on guidance for local authorities and other stakeholders to conduct their own ‘Place and Wellbeing Rapid Assessment’ using the outcomes.

Shaping Places for Wellbeing

The Shaping Places for Wellbeing Programme is a joint delivery programme between the Improvement Service and Public Health Scotland. We are working closely with local authorities and local health boards giving them the space to honestly discuss their work and share learning across local, network and national level. The work is anchored in using the Place and Wellbeing Outcomes to improve Scotland’s wellbeing and reduce inequality. The programme aims to raise awareness of the use of the Place and Wellbeing Outcomes and their use in achieving system change. The programme will run up until March 2024 and throughout the duration we will be sharing our findings and insights on our webpages.

National Planning Framework 4

With the consultation on the fourth National Planning Framework (NPF) out, it’s important to highlight that the most effective way to ensure a consistent use of the Place and Wellbeing Outcomes across Scotland would be to embed them in national policy. The Spatial Planning, Health and Wellbeing Collaborative recommended they provide the additional clarity needed for local government to be able to deliver the welcome ambitions of the NPF4.

How can we help you?

If you’re interested in finding out more about how the Place and Wellbeing Outcomes could be used in your place, please visit our website, and feel free to get in touch!


One thought on “Local authorities and place and wellbeing outcomes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *