Local level Brexit vulnerabilities in Scotland: Brexit Vulnerabilities Index (BVI)

This research identifies areas of Scotland that are expected to be most vulnerable to the consequences of Brexit, and what drives those risks to support local authorities and other organisations in understanding local risks around EU exit.

5. Conclusion

Brexit will affect communities across Scotland in different ways. This research shows at datazone – or community – level where in Scotland is likely to be most vulnerable to Brexit. It does so by identifying the factors which will influence a community's vulnerability, and assesses the extent to which the characteristics of different communities makes them more or less vulnerable to Brexit.

The analysis does not anticipate a specific Brexit scenario. Instead, it starts from the assumption that leaving the EU will create a number of challenges, and that whilst different Brexit outcomes may exacerbate or alleviate the scale of these challenges, the underlying drivers would be the same.

The analysis looks at data on eight variables and produces a Brexit Vulnerability Index score for each datazone area in Scotland. Key findings are that many of the most vulnerable areas to Brexit are rural areas.

Overall the analysis shows that 53% of communities at datazone level in Na h-Eileanan Siar are within the 20% most vulnerable communities in Scotland; 50% of those in the Shetland Islands, 49% of those in Argyll and Bute and 34% in the Orkney Islands. This equates to over 75,000 people in total. This reflects the high concentration of the workforce in Brexit vulnerable sectors such as fishing and agriculture; relatively high European funding receipts and rurality, though there is variation within these areas.

Many of the most vulnerable areas are in Mainly Rural local authorities. This does not mean that urban areas would not see a negative impact from Brexit, but that on average rural communities are typically relatively more exposed to the risks that Brexit represents.

However, Brexit is clearly not a purely rural problem. For example, 186,000 people in Glasgow live within the most vulnerable datazones in Scotland, more than any other local authority. Likewise, nearly 170,000 people in Fife, North and South Lanarkshire and Edinburgh combined are living within the most vulnerable datazones in Scotland.


Email: ruralstatistics@gov.scot

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