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Use and Understanding of the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification

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6 HOW THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT URBAN RURAL CLASSIFICATION IS USED

6.1 The online questionnaire posed a number of questions to analysts in relation to the SG Urban Rural Classification that were not asked of other classifications being used. This was because the SG Urban Rural Classification was the primary focus of the research.

Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification Breakdowns Used

6.2 Analysts were asked which of the SG Urban Rural Classification breakdowns they tended to use; as can be seen in chart 6.1, the highest usage level was for the 6-fold classification and this usage was highest among those within NHS Boards (89%) and the SG (82%). It should be noted that some respondents were using more than one breakdown. The telephone interviews show that respondents use which ever breakdown is perceived to be most appropriate for a specific piece of analysis.

Chart 6.1: Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification Breakdowns used (analysts)

Chart 6.1: Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification Breakdowns used (analysts)

Source: QA15; Analysts, n = 148

6.3 Highest use of the 6-fold classification was among respondents within NHS Boards and Scottish Government and use of the 3-fold definition highest among those in Private Consultancies.

6.4 Use of the 8-fold classification specifically was highest among respondents within Universities / Colleges.

6.5 The 8 and 6 fold classifications are used mostly in the topic areas of Communities / Population Change and Health and Wellbeing.

6.6 The 3 and 2 fold classifications are used mostly in the topic areas of Communities / Population Change and Economy / Economic Development.

Geography Selected

6.7 Looking at the geographic boundaries selected when using the SG Urban Rural Classification, respondents tend to use either data zones and/or postcodes.

Chart 6.2: Geographic boundaries selected when using the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification

Chart 6.2: Geographic boundaries selected when using the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification

Source: QA16; Analysts, n = 143 (respondents could select more than one of these geographies)

6.8 Looking at the geographic boundaries selected against the classification used shows:

  • Those using the 8 and 3 fold classifications tend to select postcode;
  • More of those using the 6-fold classification select data zone;
  • Analysts using the 2-fold classification mainly select postcode and data zone.

Dataset used

6.9 Analysts were asked with what type(s) of dataset they use the SG Urban Rural Classification and responses show that:

  • Within the Scottish Government, highest proportions of respondents were using survey data;
  • Within Local Authorities, highest proportions were using official or national statistics sources;
  • Among NHS Boards, highest proportions were using administrative data.

It should be noted that there is likely to be overlap in the responses to this as, for example, the Scottish Household Survey could be classified as either survey data or official or national statistics.

Chart 6.3: Type(s) of dataset with which the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification is used

Chart 6.3: Type(s) of dataset with which the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification is used

Source: QA17; Analysts, n = 143

6.10 Examination of the topic areas where the SG Urban Rural Classification was used shows that Communities / Population Change was most commonly mentioned by those using all datasets:

  • Administrative data (51%);
  • Survey data (47%);
  • Secondary data (58%);
  • Official or National Statistics source (59%).

6.11 Economy / Economic Development was second most common among those using secondary data and Official or National Statistics, while Health and Wellbeing was second among those using administrative data and survey data.

Data Sources to which the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification is applied

6.12 The SG Urban Rural Classification can be applied to data sources. This means that the classification is attached (by postcode, data zone, etc) to existing data sources to allow for urban rural analysis. Analysts were asked to "name the specific data sources to which you apply the SG Urban Rural Classification" and 81 analysts mentioned almost 100 sources; these were either named or a general description given. A list of named data sources is included at Appendix 4.

6.13 Those mentioned by over 5% were:

  • Scottish Household Survey (15 respondents) - this was mentioned by a third of those responding from the Scottish Government;
  • Census (7);
  • Scottish House Condition Survey (5);
  • Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics (5);
  • The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD) (4).

6.14 Table 6.1 shows the main sources identified as being used by at least 4 respondents and indicates that the SG Urban Rural Classification is applied to all topic areas with these larger sources. Other, more specific sources, tended to show predictable results with relationships between the topic and the source. For example, 2 respondents identified the Pupil Census as the main source to which they applied the SG Urban Rural Classification and that this work was focusing on Education and Lifelong Learning.

Table 6.1: Topic areas and datasets

Total
(80)

Communities / population change
(35)

Health & Wellbeing
(29)

Economy / economic development
(23)

Education & Lifelong Learning
(23)

Housing
(22)

Transport
(20)

Scottish Household Survey

15

7

8

5

4

5

7

Census

7

6

3

1

1

1

5

Scottish House Condition Survey

5

3

1

1

1

5

1

Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics

5

3

2

4

3

1

2

SIMD

4

4

2

1

1

1

2

Source: QA18; Analysts naming specific data sources to which they apply the SG Urban Rural Classification

Attitudinal statements

6.15 Both analysts and policy respondents were asked to rate a number of statements in relation to the SG Urban Rural Classification. It should be noted that there were high numbers saying 'don't know' at each statement, which may indicate a lack of information about the SG Urban Rural Classification.

Chart 6.4: Levels of agreement with attitude statements on the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification

Chart 6.4: Levels of agreement with attitude statements on the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification

Source: QPA19; all respondents answering each statement
* May not add to 100% due to rounding

6.16 "There are limitations in using the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification to assess change over time":

  • Responses to this statement were fairly consistent across all sectors and respondent types. Key perceived limitations were outlined in Chapter 5.

6.17 "I would like to use the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification more for policy development":

  • Agreement with this statement was highest among those working within Local Authorities and Voluntary Organisations, although no respondents from these two categories agreed strongly. A third of those working within Scottish Government said they tended to agree, with just over 1 in 20 agreeing strongly. A small number of respondents participating in the telephone interviews noted they would like to use this classification more, although opportunities for increased usage were fairly limited.

6.18 "I prefer to use other classifications that sit within Local Authority boundaries":

  • Around half of those working in Local Authorities and Private Consultancies agreed with this statement; this compares to less than 1 in 5 of those working within the SG. No respondents within Health Boards agreed with this statement. Findings from the telephone interviews indicate that these fairly low levels of agreement are because other classifications used are perceived to be more appropriate for the analysis in hand.

6.19 "There are other forms of classification available that are more appropriate":

  • Again, there was a fairly high level of disagreement with this statement and those working within Universities / Colleges were most likely to disagree. The telephone interviews indicate that appropriateness is related to the type of project and analysis being undertaken; where the SG Urban Rural Classification is used it is, generally speaking, because it is seen as the most appropriate classification for that particular piece of work.

Future use

6.20 All analysts and policy respondents were asked about future work involving an urban rural distinction. More than half of respondents said they were aware of future work that will require an urban rural distinction to be made. Those participating in the telephone interviews noted the importance being attributed to policy work in this area.

6.21 Over three-quarters of respondents claimed they will start to use, or continue to use, the SG Urban Rural Classification in the future.

  • This was highest among those from Commercial Organisations and Universities / Colleges and lowest among those from Private Consultancies.
  • 40 respondents (10 policy, 30 analysts) who are not already using the SG Urban Rural Classification intend to use it in future.

6.22 Those who said they would not be using the SG Urban Rural Classification in future were asked to give reasons and 72 replied (28 policy and 44 analyst respondents). The key reasons identified were:

  • That it is not relevant to / useful for their area of work / type of data (20 respondents);
    • This answer was given by 17 analysts but only 3 policy respondents.
  • No need for it (at present) (9 respondents).
  • Not relevant to their local situation / area (7);
    • All these respondents came from within Local Authorities.
  • Not relevant to urban areas / no rural areas in this location / areas of work have an urban focus (6);
    • All these respondents came from within Local Authorities.
  • Might use it in future if appropriate / if it was specifically asked for (5).
  • General concept of rural and urban is sufficient for their work / no need for such detailed distinctions (4).

In summary,

  • The most widely used breakdown is the 6-fold classification.
  • Respondents cited a very wide range of data sources to which they apply the SG Urban Rural Classification; the most frequently mentioned was the Scottish Household Survey.
  • Attitudes from the online survey towards the SG Urban Rural Classification are largely positive and fit with comments made by respondents participating in the telephone interviews. Of the online respondents commenting on a number of attitude statements:
    • Most commenting agree there are limitations in using the SG Urban Rural Classification to assess change over time;
    • Most commenting would like to use the SG Urban Rural Classification more for policy development;
    • Some commenting would prefer to use other classifications that sit within local authority boundaries;
    • Most commenting disagreed there are other forms of classification that are more appropriate.
  • Just over half of respondents were aware of future work involving an urban rural distinction; over three-quarters claim they will continue to use, or start to use, this classification in the future; responses from those claiming they will not use it in the future show that this is because the classification is not perceived as being needed rather than because of reservations about it.