Majority feel they can rely on their neighbours in Scotland

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European Pressphoto Agency

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Mutual aid groups emerged across Scotland when the lockdown was announced

Community spirit remains strong across Scotland and most adults say they can rely on their neighbours, according to a new report.

The Scottish Household Survey interviewed thousands of adults last year – before the coronavirus pandemic.

More than three-quarters reported a strong sense of belonging and most people felt safe in their community.

Satisfaction with housing was high but respondents were less happy with public services such as schools or transport.

Scottish neighbourhoods

More than 80% of Scottish adults agreed they could rely on friends and relatives in their neighbourhood for support in 2019.

Since then hundreds of community aid groups have been set up across the country to support people during the coronavirus lockdown.

One estimate found that in the four months after the lockdown was announced more than 200 mutual aid groups formed in Scotland, with about 116,000 members.

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More than 80% of adults felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhood at night

Kevin Smith, a volunteer with the Covid Mutual Aid Network, an umbrella organisation for Covid-19 community groups in the UK, said: “The explosion of mutual aid groups across the UK in response to the lockdown has shown, like the Scottish Household Survey results, that we have a strong sense of collective well-being and interdependence in our communities.

“Ordinary people have self-organised to support each other in a time of crisis in the spirit of being good neighbours – and that’s something we all stand to benefit from even when the pandemic is over.”

However, neighbourhood ratings varied by deprivation, with adults in the least deprived areas far more likely to say their neighbourhood was a very good place to live than adults in the most deprived areas. This gap has remained stable over the last decade.

People in rural areas were more likely to describe their area as very good compared to those in urban areas.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “I am pleased so many people have a strong sense of belonging to their neighbourhood, which contributes towards making Scotland a warm and friendly nation where everyone is welcome.

“Of course, this survey predates the coronavirus crisis, but that sense of community spirit was vital during lockdown when we were all required to work together to help suppress the spread of the virus.”


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More than half of owner-occupier homes have adults who have lived there for more than 20 year

A majority of adults reported feeling satisfied with their housing in 2019, a similar level to the previous year.

Satisfaction varied depending on the type of home the person lived in, with the highest levels reported by owner-occupiers (95%), followed by private tenants (84%) and social housing tenants (81%).

There were more than 300,000 more households in Scotland in 2019 than in 1999 when the household survey was first carried out, an increase of 15%.

The majority, about 60%, were owner-occupied and most properties were houses.

The decline in younger people aged between 16 and 34 owning properties has reversed in recent years, rising to 38% in 2019 – although this was significantly less the more than 50% reported in 1999.

Local services

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The proportion of respondents dissatisfied with at least one pubic service has increase by 7% since 2011

Local services were broken down into three main categories in the survey: health, schools and public transport.

Slightly more than 50% of adults were satisfied with all three, down from a peak of 66% in 2011. The largest factor in this decline was satisfaction with schools.

People in urban areas were more satisfied with local services than rural dwellers and this was largely due to views on public transport.

Fewer than one in five adults agreed they can influence decisions affecting their local area.


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Households relying mainly on benefits were the most likely to say they were not managing financially

More than 50% of households in Scotland earned £25,000 or less in 2019 with about a quarter earning more than £40,000.

As in previous years, single parent and single adult households were the most likely to report that they were not managing well financially (21% and 16% respectively), both above the national average of 9%.

The proportion of households where neither the respondent nor their partner had a bank account has fallen from 12% in 1999 to just 1% in 2019.

Almost half of adults aged between 16 and 64 were in full-time employment, an increase of 4% since 1999.

Physical activity

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Excluding walking, just over half of adults participated in physical activity in the previous four weeks

Eight in 10 adults said they had taken part in physical activity in the previous four weeks with recreational walking the most common type.

Satisfaction with facilities among all respondents, including those who did not report using the facilities, fell by 3% from 2018.

Participation in physical activity and sport was lower for those living in the most deprived areas (70%) compared to the least deprived areas (90%).

Most people said they could access satisfactory outdoor space such as parks, woods, rivers, coasts but people living in more deprived areas were less likely to live within a five-minute walk.

Climate change

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Alan Brunton

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A total of 3% said climate change was “not really a problem”

The majority of each age group, almost seven in 10 adults in Scotland, viewed climate change as an immediate and urgent problem for the first time in 2019.

The proportions of those aged between 60 and 74 and those aged 75 and over who agreed climate change was urgent both rose by 10% since 2018.

A total of 6% of respondents across all age groups said they were “still not convinced that climate change is happening”, down from 13% in 2013.

BBC News