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Publication - Statistics Publication

Scottish social attitudes: attitudes to government and political engagement, 2016

Published: 24 Mar 2017

Survey results on attitudes to government, political engagement, economy, standard of living and the NHS.

54 page PDF

1.1MB

54 page PDF

1.1MB

Contents
Scottish social attitudes: attitudes to government and political engagement, 2016
1. Trust in government

54 page PDF

1.1MB

1. Trust in government

The Scottish Social Attitudes ( SSA) Survey 2016 asked participants questions about trust in government:

  • Trust in government ( UK and Scottish) to work in Scotland's best interests
  • Trust in government ( UK, Scottish and local) to make fair decisions
  • How good government ( UK, Scottish and local) is at listening before taking decisions

In this chapter we present headline findings at a glance, and list subgroups who gave varying answers, based on statistical significance.

Trust in government to work in Scotland's best interests

Almost two thirds (65%) of people in 2016 said they trusted the Scottish Government 'just about always' or 'most of the time' to work in Scotland's best interests. This figure had fallen from its record high figure of 73% in 2015.

This compared with a quarter of people (25%) in 2016 saying that they trusted the UK Government 'just about always' or 'most of the time' to work in Scotland's best interests. This figure had remained at a similar level to 2015, when 23% said they trusted the UK Government.

Since these questions were first asked in the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, levels of trust in the Scottish Government to work in Scotland's best interests have been consistently higher than those in the UK Government. In 2016, there was a 40 percentage point gap between the proportion of people trusting the Scottish Government and the proportion trusting the UK Government to work in Scotland's best interests. This gap is, however, ten percentage points smaller than in 2015.

Figure 1 Trust in the Scottish and UK Governments to work in Scotland's best interests (1999-2016, % trust 'just about always' / 'most of the time') [4] [5]

Figure 1 Trust in the Scottish and UK Governments to work in Scotland's best interests (1999-2016, % trust 'just about always' / 'most of the time')

Variations in attitudes between subgroups

Levels of trust in the Scottish and UK Governments to work in Scotland's best interests varied between a number of social groups, based on statistical significance, and are listed here. Variables with no statistically significant differences are listed in Annex A.

65% trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland's best interests 'just about always' or 'most of the time'. In subgroups, this varied as follows: [6]

  • Political affiliation - 84% of SNP supporters trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland's best interests compared to 55% of non- SNP supporters.
  • Age - 82% of 16-24 year olds trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland's best interests compared to 53% of those aged 65 and over.
  • Interest in politics - 69% of those with any interest in politics trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland's best interests compared to 41% of those with 'no interest at all' in politics.
  • Living comfortably - 68% of those living comfortably on their present income trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland's best interests compared with 50% of those struggling on their present income.

25% trusted the UK Government to work in Scotland's best interests 'just about always' or 'most of the time'. In subgroups, this varied as follows: [7]

  • Political spectrum - 58% of those on the right of the political spectrum trusted the UK Government to work in Scotland's best interests, compared to 17% of those on the left of the political spectrum.
  • National identity - 37% of those who identify as more British than Scottish and 37% of those who identified as equally Scottish and British trusted the UK Government to work in Scotland's best interests, compared to 16% of those who identified as more Scottish than British.
  • Living comfortably - 31% of those who were living comfortably on their present income trusted the UK Government to work in Scotland's best interests compared to 17% of those who were struggling on their present income.

Trust in government to make fair decisions [8]

In 2016, 40% of people trusted the Scottish Government 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' to make fair decisions. This figure had decreased by 9 percentage points since 2015.

The proportion of people who trusted the UK Government 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' to make fair decisions was 18%, the same as in 2015, and has remained relatively stable since 2011.

Just under a third of people (32%) trusted their local council to make fair decisions in 2016. This question was asked for the first time about local councils in the 2015 survey, when a similar proportion of people (34%) said this.

People were more than twice as likely to trust the Scottish Government to make fair decisions compared to the UK Government. Trust in the Scottish Government to make fair decisions has been consistently higher than trust in the UK Government since this question was first asked in 2006.

Figure 2 Trust in the UK Government, Scottish Government and Local Council to make fair decisions (2006-2016, % trust 'a great deal' / 'quite a lot') [5]

Figure 2 Trust in the UK Government, Scottish Government and Local Council to make fair decisions (2006-2016, % trust 'a great deal' / 'quite a lot')

Variations in attitudes between subgroups

Levels of trust in the Scottish and UK Governments to make fair decisions varied between a number of social groups, based on statistical significance, and are listed here. Variables with no statistically significant differences are listed in Annex A.

40% trusted the Scottish Government to make fair decisions 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot'. In subgroups, this varied as follows: [9]

  • Political affiliation - 58% of SNP supporters trusted the Scottish Government to make fair decisions compared to 30% of non- SNP supporters.
  • Age - 50% of 16-24 year olds trusted the Scottish Government to make fair decisions compared to 32% of those aged 65 and over.
  • Interest in politics - 42% of those with any interest in politics trusted the Scottish Government to make fair decisions compared to 27% of those with 'no interest at all' in politics.
  • National identity - 47% of those who identified as more Scottish than British trusted the Scottish Government to make fair decisions compared to 23% of those who identified as more British than Scottish.

18% trusted the UK Government to make fair decisions 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot'. In subgroups, this varied as follows: [10]

  • Political spectrum - 40% of those on the right of the political spectrum trusted the UK Government to make fair decisions compared to 12% of those on the left.
  • Living comfortably - 22% of those who were living comfortably on their present income trusted the UK Government to make fair decisions compared to 8% of those who were struggling to live on their present income.
  • Political affiliation - 22% of non- SNP supporters trusted the UK Government to make fair decisions compared to 10% of SNP supporters.
  • Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation - 20% of those in the least deprived quintile (20% of areas) trusted the UK Government to make fair decisions compared to 11% of those in the most deprived quintile.

How good is government at listening before taking decisions?

The majority (54%) of people said the Scottish Government was 'very good' or 'quite good' at listening to people's views before taking decisions in 2016. This was down slightly from the 2015 figure of 59%.

The percentage of people who said the UK Government was good at listening to people's views before making decisions was 20% in 2016. This was up from 17% in 2015.

In 2016, 44% of people said their local council was good at listening to people's views before taking decisions, unchanged from 2015.

Attitudes to how good the Scottish Government is at listening to people's views before making decisions have been improving since 2004, when this question was introduced. 32% of people said the Scottish Government was good at listening to people's views before making decisions in 2004, 22 percentage points lower than in 2016.

Attitudes to how good the UK Government is at listening to people's views before taking decisions have remained stable over time. Between 15% and 22% of people have considered the UK Government to be good at listening since 2004.

Figure 3 How good are the Scottish Government, UK Government and own Local Council at listening to people's views before taking decisions? (2004-2016, % 'very good' / 'quite good') [5]

Figure 3 How good are the Scottish Government, UK Government and own Local Council at listening to people's views before taking decisions? (2004-2016, % 'very good' / 'quite good')

Variations in attitudes between subgroups

Views on whether the Scottish and UK Governments were good at listening before taking decisions varied between a number of social groups, based on statistical significance. These are listed here. Variables with no statistically significant differences are listed in Annex A.

54% said the Scottish Government was 'very' or 'quite' good at listening to people's views before taking decisions. In subgroups, this varied as follows: [11]

  • Political affiliation - 75% of SNP supporters said the Scottish Government was good at listening compared to 42% of non- SNP supporters.
  • Age - 68% of 16-24 year olds said the Scottish Government was good at listening compared to 37% of those aged 65 and over.
  • Employment status - 59% of those in work said the Scottish Government was good at listening compared to 38% of those who were retired.
  • Interest in politics - 57% of those with any interest in politics said the Scottish Government was good at listening compared to 27% of those with 'no interest at all' in politics.
  • National identity - 58% of those who identified as more Scottish than British thought the Scottish Government was good at listening compared to 40% of those who identified as more British than Scottish.

20% said the UK Government was 'very' or 'quite' good at listening to people's views before taking decisions. In subgroups, this varied as follows: [12]

  • Political spectrum - 33% of those on the right of the political spectrum said the UK Government was good at listening compared to 16% of those on the left of the spectrum.
  • Religious identity - 25% of those who identified as religious said the UK Government was good at listening compared to 17% of those who did not identify as religious.
  • Living comfortably - 24% of those who were living comfortably on their present income said the UK Government was good at listening compared to 16% of those who were struggling to live on their present income.
  • Political affiliation - 23% of non- SNP supporters said the UK Government was good at listening compared to 15% of SNP supporters.
  • National Identity - 27% of those who identified as more British than Scottish thought the UK Government was good at listening compared to 18% of those who identified as more Scottish than British.

Contact

Email: Sarah Martin