Understanding Scotland – Society May 2022

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We are delighted to present this Understanding Scotland report on the state of play in Scotland.

This report explores the public’s priorities as we emerge from the pandemic and inflation begins to bite. The ongoing cost of living crisis tops people’s concerns, supplanting healthcare as the number one issue for the Scottish population, and economic and constitutional debates appear to be waning. While the pandemic has fallen sharply in salience, we find widespread and considerable concern over rising prices across all age groups and regardless of social class and employment status.

This report flags evident and widespread concern at the cost of living crisis, and a further report to follow will explore the gravity and extent of it, including how people are feeling about it and how they have responded.

For the first time since our polling began last year, we find that a majority of those expressing an opinion believe that things in Scotland are going in the wrong direction. Aside from the cost of living, those saying that things were on the wrong track were more motivated by the economy, trust in politics and education, while the more optimistic about Scotland’s direction of travel were more concerned with constitutional and environmental debates.

Key Takeaways

This edition of Understanding Scotland brings you insights from over 2,000 members of the adult (16+) Scottish public on the most important aspects of our society and economy.

  1. The cost of living crisis tops people’s concerns
    As inflation has begun to bite, the cost of living has supplanted health concerns as the top issue facing Scots. This evident concern cuts across all age groups and social classes, though is especially pronounced in more deprived areas and financially vulnerable groups.
  2. The public has moved on from covid
    While healthcare and the NHS ranks second in Scots’ concerns, the pandemic has fallen sharply in salience, with only 4% deeming it a top issue, down 12 points since January.
  3. A majority think things in Scotland are getting worse
    For the first time, our polling finds that a majority of those expressing an opinion have judged that things in Scotland are going in the wrong direction. These people were more likely to be motivated/concerned by the economy, education, and trust in politics.
  4. Vulnerable groups are worried about daily needs
    In addition to the cost of living, people in the most deprived neighbourhoods, as well as the unemployed and inactive, were concerned about issues of poverty, housing, and jobs, and markedly less concerned about the economy
  5. Age continues to determine much of people’s outlook
    Young people were markedly more likely to say that things in Scotland were on the right track, and were more than twice as likely as any other age group to prioritise tackling climate change.