Scottish councils work towards national Baseline Unit Costs

Scottish authorities at Road Expo this year were given an update on a useful benchmarking tool for councils looking to make savings.

Raymond Smith, roads manager at Falkirk Council, discussed work to establish cost benchmarking for different elements of the roads sector in Scotland.

Previously ‘there has been a lack of trust and consistency on unit costs’ he said, pointing out there were ‘different accounting practices so no benchmarking’.

The aim was to change this by creating ‘a methodology to give local authorities the ability to produce compariable unit costs across a range of activities, allowing them to benchmark with neighbouring authorities and across the wider roads community’.

Using data sets from the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland (SCOTS) and the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) the research favoured using median averages in areas such as treatment rates to establish ‘Baseline Unit Costs’ (BUCs).

‘BUCs should not be considered as a target rate for local authorities,’ he said, but a ‘comparison of valid unit costs may help to drive improvement or sharing of best practice’.

Following the initial analysis, Mr Smith said: ‘We want to improve the data going in and take the study into other types of asset.’

The study recommended that further analysis be carried out at individual local authority level.

Road Expo Scotland 2018 will take place at the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh on 31 October and 1 November. If you want to be kept informed on developments or if you wish to receive details about sponsoring or exhibiting please email Dino Dionissiou at

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