Understanding Scotland – Society October 2021

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We are delighted to present this first edition of Understanding Scotland.

Over the coming weeks and months we will roll out a series of reports outlining the public’s attitudes to Scotland’s society, economy and environment.

This first report lays the groundwork for understanding Scottish society as we emerge from the pandemic, and addresses the following fundamental questions: Is Scotland on the right track? Where do we want to go as a country? And who do we trust to help us get there?

The coming weeks will see similar reports on the Scottish public’s attitudes and priorities with regards to the

economy and the environment as the recovery and the COP26 conference get under way.

Subsequent waves of the survey will monitor changes and trends in this data. Thus, the value and insight of Understanding Scotland will grow exponentially over time, as we track, explain and anticipate long-term shifts and trends in public opinion.

Key Takeaways

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

  1. Tackling poverty & inequality is a top concern for the Scottish public
    A third of respondents (34%) put tackling poverty and inequality in the top three issues facing Scotland, at least 8 percentage points ahead of all other issues,
  2. The Scottish population want a fair recovery
    Coupled with the economy being the second most important issue of concern, there is an evident appetite from the Scottish population for a fair recovery from the pandemic that tackles socioeconomic disparities.
  3. The economy tops the concerns of the better off, while the less privileged are focused on day-to-day practicalities
    The less well-off were more likely to prioritise poverty and inequality, the cost of living and inflation, and mental health and wellbeing, with the economy coming in fourth place.
  4. Other priorities are reflective of the current context and topical debates
    Recent news stories appear to have cut through, with the cost of living, mental health and wellbeing, and the environment all featuring in the public’s top concerns.
  5. The environment is high among young people’s concerns
    29% Of 16-34 year-olds consider the environment to be one of the most important issues facing Scotland today, placing it in third place behind poverty and inequality (40%) and mental health and wellbeing (35%).
  6. The NHS is Scotland’s most trusted institution
    With a fifth of people saying that they trust it ‘entirely’, the nhs is Scotland’s most trusted group, followed by other people in Scotland, and universities.
  7. Conversely, the media are among the least trusted
    With 19% of people reporting that they do not trust the print media ‘at all’, and 14% saying the same of the broadcast media, there is evidently little faith in the journalistic profession.
  8. Faith in politics is low
    With a fifth of people saying that they do not trust the government or the political system ‘at all’, faith in politics is low, and especially so among the less well off.
  9. Trust is consistently lower among lower social grades
    On all but one item, trust in given institutions was lower among the less well off. This was especially pronounced with regards to government and the political system, as well as the broadcast and press media.
  10. Scotland is split down the middle on its direction of travel
    43% Of the Scottish population believe that Scotland is heading in the right direction, while the same proportion believe that it is heading in the wrong direction, with the remaining 14% undecided.