Trust in government and political engagement

An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The Chief Statistician today released a set of Official Statistics drawn from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2016, covering a range of topics including attitudes to government, economy, standard of living and the NHS and political engagement.

In 2016, 65% trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland’s best interests and 40% to make fair decisions, down from 73% and 49% respectively in 2015. Consistent with previous years, trust in the UK Government remained considerably lower, at 25% and 18% respectively.

For the first year in the time series, in 2016 more people thought that the Scottish Government had most influence over the way Scotland is run (42%) than thought the UK Government had most influence (41%).

Three quarters (75%) of people said that the Scottish Government should have most influence over the way Scotland is run. 14% said the UK Government should have the most influence.

In 2016, 71% said that the Scottish Parliament gave Scotland a stronger voice in the UK (71%), the highest figure in the time series. Similar to 2015, 59% said it gave ordinary people more say in how Scotland is governed.

Helping the economy to grow faster was most often reported (28%) as what people thought should be the Scottish Government’s highest priority. More than half of all respondents (54%) thought the economy had weakened in the past year, compared with 34% in 2015.  Of those who felt that the economy had weakened, 35% attributed this to UK Government policy, 18% attributed it to Scottish Government policy, and 37% to ‘some other reason’.

The majority of respondents were satisfied with the way the NHS was being run in 2016 (60%), similar to 2013 and 2015. More than a third thought that standards in the health service had fallen (37%). Of those who thought standards had fallen, 40% attributed this to UK Government policy, 25% attributed this to Scottish Government policy, and 18% to ‘some other reason’.



Publications based on the Scottish Social Attitudes survey 2016 are available at

The Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey has been conducted by the independent research organisation ScotCen annually each year since the advent of devolution in 1999 (with the exception of 2008). It is based on interviews of between 1,200 to 1,700 people in Scotland drawn using probability sampling. The survey provides an important source of data on attitudes to government and the Scottish Parliament over this period.

The SSA interviews in 2016 took place between 11th July and 23rd December 2016, after the referendum on the European Union (23rd June 2016). Prior to 2016, SSA interviewed adults aged 18 and over. In 2016 those aged 16 or 17 were also interviewed for the first time. Details of the survey methodology are provided in the Technical Annex published alongside this report.

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


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