Life for people in Scotland in 2015

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The majority of people in Scotland rate their neighbourhood as a good place to live and have a strong sense of belonging to their neighbourhood. Most people also participated in sport and exercise and engaged in some type of cultural activity in 2015, whilst around a quarter volunteered. Around a half of households were positive about their finances.

These are just some of the findings from the wide-ranging 2015 Scottish Household Survey. The survey has been designed to provide reliable and up-to-date information on the composition, characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of Scottish households and individuals since 1999.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today published the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) 2015 Annual Report (Scotland’s People). This is a web-only publication and can be found on the Scottish Government Website, at

Some key findings from each chapter of the report are:


  • The total number of households in Scotland increased by 11 per cent from 2.19 million in 1999 to 2.43 million in 2015.
  • The percentage of households in owner occupation grew from 61 per cent in 1999 to 66 per cent in 2005, but then declined between 2009 and 2014 to 60 per cent, and in 2015 was around the same level at 61 per cent.
  • The proportion of households in the private rented sector grew steadily from 5 per cent in 1999 to 14 per cent in 2015, an almost threefold increase in the number of households.
  • The percentage of households in the social rented sector declined from 32 per cent in 1999 to 23 per cent in 2007, and has remained at around 23 per cent of all households since.


  • More than half (56 per cent) of adults rated their neighbourhood as a very good place to live in 2015. This continues the trend of consistently high ratings since the survey began in 1999 with over 90 per cent of adults rating their neighbourhood as a very or fairly good place to live.
  • More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of all adults felt a very or fairly strong sense of belonging to their neighbourhood in 2015, however this varied according to age, ethnic group and deprivation. The majority of adults in Scotland indicated that they would assist neighbours in an emergency (74 per cent) and could rely on those around them for advice and support (63 per cent).
  • Most potential neighbourhood problems are not considered to be particularly common. In 2015, the most prevalent issue cited was animal nuisance (e.g. noise or fouling) which was reported as being very or fairly common by 31 per cent of adults.

Economic Activity

  • In 2015, a higher proportion of men (60 per cent) than women (50 per cent) were ‘currently in work’. Women were more likely to be in part-time employment than men (17 compared with 5 per cent). In contrast, self-employment was more common among men than women (8 and 4 per cent, respectively).
  • Just under one in five (17 per cent) adults had no qualifications, with those aged 75 and over least likely to have qualifications (45 per cent).

Household Finances

  • The proportion of households reporting that they manage well financially increased from 52 per cent in 2014 to 55 per cent in 2015.
  • Single parent and single adult households were most likely to report that they do not manage well financially with around a fifth (23 and 17 per cent, respectively) reporting they do not manage well financially - higher than the overall Scotland figure of 10 per cent.
  • The percentage of households reporting having savings of £1,000 or more increased from 43 per cent in 2009 to 55 per cent in 2015.
  • Around a half (52 per cent) of households in the social rented sector reported having no savings, compared to a third in the private rented sector (34 per cent) and less than one in ten of owner occupiers (8 per cent).


  • Seven in ten (70 per cent) of households have at least one car available for private use, with those living in rural areas more likely to own at least one car (83 per cent in remote rural areas compared to 60 per cent in large urban areas)
  • Whilst more men than women have driving licences, the number of males with a driving licence has dropped by three percentage points since 2014 to 73 per cent. Overall, the gap between males and females has declined from 26 percentage points in 1999 to ten percentage points in 2015.


  • Eighty per cent of Scottish households reported having internet access at home in 2015, unchanged from 2014.
  • Around one in five (18 per cent) of adults reported not using the internet at all, in line with last year’s figure.
  • Sixty per cent of households with incomes of £15,000 or less had home internet access, increasing to 98 per cent of households with incomes over £40,000.
  • In 2015, 38 per cent of adults reported that they had used a Local Authority website for any purpose whilst 18 per cent reported that they had used a Government website for any purpose.
  • Eighty six per cent of these adults were fairly or very satisfied with the overall quality of the public services they had used online, and 81 per cent responded that they were fairly or very satisfied with the ease of finding information.


  • A large majority of adults (80 per cent) participated in sport and exercise (including recreational walking) in the last four weeks in 2015. This is a small increase from 2014 and is largely a result of an increase in recreational walking participation.
  • When walking was excluded, 52 per cent had undertaken at least one of the remaining sport and exercise activities in the last four weeks. Participation in sport and exercise (excluding walking) has remained largely unchanged over the period 2007 to 2015.
  • For those who do participate, frequency of participation in sport and exercise among participants continues an upward trend. Regular participation (on more than 15 days in the past 4 weeks prior to interview) has increased from over a third (36 per cent) in 2007, to half (50 per cent) in 2015.
  • Participation in sport and exercise (including walking) is lowest amongst those living in the most deprived areas (72 per cent) or those with no qualifications (56 per cent) compared to those from the least deprived areas (88 per cent) or with higher levels of education (91 per cent).

Local services

  • In 2015, 58 per cent of adults were satisfied with three public services: local health services, schools and public transport, compared to 62 per cent in 2014.
  • In 2015, 24 per cent of adults agreed that they can influence decisions affecting their local area, the highest level since the question was introduced in 2007. Just over a third (34 per cent) said they would like to be more involved in the decisions their council makes.


  • Around half of adults (49 per cent) visited the outdoors at least once a week in the last year, a similar proportion as in 2014.
  • In 2015, 21 per cent of adults living in the most deprived areas did not make any visits to the outdoors in the previous twelve months, compared to 8 per cent of those living in the least deprived areas.
  • Most adults (67 per cent) live within a five minute walk of their nearest area of greenspace, a similar proportion to 2014.
  • Half of adults (50 per cent) view climate change as an immediate and urgent problem, an increase of 5 percentage points compared with 2014 (45 per cent).
  • More households are now disposing of their food waste in local authority-provided food caddies (46 per cent in 2015 compared with 26 per cent in 2012).


  • Levels of volunteering have remained relatively stable over the last 5 years (27 per cent in 2015), with around three in ten adults providing unpaid help to organisations or groups.
  • Levels of volunteering vary according to gender and economic status. More women (30 per cent) than men (24 per cent) volunteered in the last 12 months, whilst fewer people from lower socio-economic groups volunteered compared with higher income groups.
  • The type of organisations most commonly volunteered for were youth or children’s organisations (22 per cent), health, disability and social welfare organisations (20 per cent), and children’s activities associated with schools (19 per cent).


  • Around nine in ten (92 per cent) adults were culturally engaged in 2015, either by attending or visiting a cultural event or place or by participating in a cultural activity. The level of cultural engagement in Scotland has increased by around 5 percentage points since it was first recorded in 2007.
  • More women than men attended cultural events (85 per cent and 80 per cent respectively).
  • Those living in the 20 per cent least deprived areas of Scotland were more likely to attend cultural events or places than those living in the 20 per cent most deprived areas (91 per cent compared to 72 per cent).
  • In terms of cultural participation (i.e. people undertaking activities themselves such as reading or crafts), again those living in the 20 per cent least deprived areas of Scotland were more likely to participate (88 per cent) compared to those living in the 20 per cent most deprived areas (68 per cent).

The figures released today were produced by independent statistical staff free from any political interference, in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Notes to editors

The full statistical publication is available at:

The SHS is a survey of households across the whole of Scotland, and is designed to provide reliable and up-to-date information on the composition, characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of Scottish households and individuals on a range of issues. It covers a wide range of key topics including household composition; housing; neighbourhoods and communities; economic activity; household finances; education; transport; internet and broadband; health and caring; local services; volunteering; culture and sport.

Further information on the Scottish Household Survey can be accessed at:

Transport Scotland publishes the SHS transport and travel data directly. The Transport and Travel in Scotland (TATIS) annual publication, also published today, includes information on households' access to cars and bikes, frequency of driving, modes of travel to work and school (including an update to the National Indicator), use and opinions of public transport and access to services. From 2014 onwards, TATIS also includes the SHS Travel Diary, covering information about travel by adults, including journey purposes and the means of transport used amongst others:

Whilst the SHS 2015 annual report does present some estimates related to economic activity, the official and most up-to-date source of statistics on employment, unemployment and economic activity is the Labour Force Survey for Scotland and the Annual Population Survey at a local authority level. Results from both surveys are available from the Scottish Government website:

The Housing Statistics for Scotland 2015: Key Trends Summary was published on Tuesday 13 September 2016 and provides a comprehensive summary of housing activity in Scotland:

From 2012 onwards, the SHS was substantially redesigned and now includes elements of the Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) including a follow-up Physical Survey of dwellings. Results of this will be released later in 2016 through the SHCS Key Findings Report and will be available from the SHCS website:

The Scottish Government consulted on the future scope of the SHS earlier this year. The consultation, the analysis of responses and the government’s response can be accessed at:

The scope of the survey will remain unchanged in 2017. A decision about SHS 2018-2021, which is due to be procured in early 2017, will be made later this year.

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at:


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