Rural Scotland Key Facts 2021
Biennial compendium publication comparing and contrasting statistics on key policy topics such as People and Communities, Services and Lifestyle, Economy and Enterprise broken down by Remote Rural, Accessible Rural and the Rest of Scotland.
This document is part of a collection
This is the twelfth edition of Rural Scotland Key Facts – a publication intended to be an easily accessible reference for statistics on rural Scotland. This 2021 version updates statistics from the eleventh edition where new statistics have become available. Previous editions can be found on the Rural Scotland Key Facts collection page on the Scottish Government website.
For some of the statistics included in the publication, reference is made to targets set by the Scottish Government; more details can be found on the National Performance Framework website.
Most figures in this publication have been rounded to zero decimal places. The percentage figures given in tables and figures have been independently rounded, so they may not always sum to the relevant sub-totals or totals.
The following symbols are used throughout the tables in this publication:
– = nil
.. = denotes the data has been suppressed due to the base sample size being low
The indicators on the pages with the National Statistics logo on the top right hand side are National Statistics. If a page does not have the logo, the indicators are Official Statistics.
Annual Population Survey
The Annual Population Survey (APS) is the primary source for information on local labour markets. It combines results from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the English, Welsh and Scottish Labour Force Survey boosts, resulting in a sample of approximately 17,000 households for Scotland. For APS data, Office for National Statistics (ONS) guidance is followed in relation to the suppression of data and to indicate the quality of the estimates. The guidance states:
- Any APS output with a person count of less than three should not be published and will be suppressed under disclosure threshold rules. Secondary disclosure rules will also continue to apply.
- On annual datasets, any output with a person count of three or more should be published and a shading measure to denote quality precision (on counts of more than three and less than or equal to 25) and corresponding footnote will be added.
The full guidance can be found on the ONS website.
The definition of homeworkers used in Table 29 has been updated since the publication of the Rural Scotland Key Facts 2018. The previous definition of homeworkers identified homeworkers as those whose response to the question ‘Whether working from home in main job’ was either: (1) in their own home; (2) in the same grounds or buildings as home; or (3) in different places using home as a base. The updated definition of homeworkers used within this publication is those whose response to this question was either: (1) in their own home; or (2) in the same grounds or buildings as home.
Estimates from the APS included in the Rural Scotland Key Facts 2021 cover the period January to December 2019 and have therefore not been affected by measures introduced in response to COVID-19.
Further information and data from the Annual Population Survey for Scotland can be found on the Scottish Government website. Data are National Statistics.
Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings
The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) is the official source of UK earnings and hours worked estimates. ASHE data are published annually by the ONS and are based on a 1% sample of the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system.
Statistics in the latest ONS release for 2020 relate to the pay period that includes 22 April 2020, at which time approximately 8.8 million employees across the UK were furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The estimates for 2020 in the release include furloughed employees and are based on actual payments made to the employee from company payrolls and the hours on which this pay was calculated, which in the case of furloughed employees are their usual hours. The Employee earnings in the UK: 2020 publication can be found on the ONS website.
For ASHE data, ONS guidance is followed in relation to the suppression of data and to indicate the quality of the estimates. Colour coding is used to indicate the quality of each estimate. The quality of an estimate is measured by its coefficient of variation (CV). The CV shows the extent of variability in relation to the mean of the population, with the higher the CV the less precise the estimate is. The coding used is as follows:
- Precise: CV <= 5%
- Reasonably precise: CV > 5% and <= 10%
- Acceptable: CV > 10% and <= 20%
- x = unreliable: CV > 20% or unavailable
The full guidance can be found on the ONS website.
Further information and data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings for Scotland can be found on the Scottish Government website.
Community Ownership in Scotland
The Community Ownership in Scotland publication series is the source of data on community ownership. The publication provides summary statistics for community ownership in Scotland. It is intended to monitor the number of assets (that is, land, buildings or anything else of substantial value) which are owned by community groups.
The data are collated from a variety of sources, mainly bodies providing funding for community ownership and asset transfers from public sector organisations, and the information checked against the records of the Land Register maintained by Registers of Scotland (RoS). There is no obligation for community groups to report their ownership of an asset to the Scottish Government so where an asset came into community ownership without receiving funding or being the result of an asset transfer, it is unlikely to be included in the published figures. There is therefore an unquantifiable degree of undercount. It also more difficult for RoS to verify the details of assets which came into community ownership many years ago and so some of the information included may be out-of-date or inaccurate. Further information on the quality of the community ownership data can be found in the supporting Methodology file published alongside the Community Ownership in Scotland 2019 report.
Further information and data on Community Ownership in Scotland can be found on the Scottish Government website. Data are Official Statistics.
Destination of School Leaver Destinations
School leaver destination data is sourced from the ‘Opportunities for All’ shared dataset which is managed and hosted by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) on behalf of partners. A pupil is counted as a school leaver if they have a leaver record in the SDS data, a pupil census record for the same academic year, and no pupil census record in the following academic year. The school leaver destinations data is matched to the pupil census for further analysis by pupil characteristic.
The SDS dataset contains information shared by various partners which is combined with information gathered directly from young people, their parents/carers or their representatives by SDS staff delivering services to individuals. The data is primarily used for operational purposes and the quality is continually monitored to ensure SDS, local authorities and colleges can monitor and plan for a young person’s involvement in education, training or employment and identify those young people who require advice or support.
Follow-up destinations relate to outcomes approximately nine months after the end of the school year. The figures for 2018-19 relate to early April 2020 and therefore do not reflect the full impact of COVID-19.
The Urban Rural category is based on a pupil’s home postcode. There are a small number of pupils for whom it is not possible to determine the Urban Rural category of their home address – usually because postcode information is missing or incorrect. For these pupils, the Urban Rural Classification of the school has been used. Further information and data on Summary Statistics for Follow-Up Leaver Destinations can be found on the Scottish Government website. Data are National Statistics.
Hospital admissions data are sourced from Public Health Scotland. The data are derived from data collected on discharges from non-obstetric and non-psychiatric hospitals, Scottish Morbidity Record 01 (SMR01), in Scotland. Only patients treated as inpatients or day cases are included. The specialty of geriatric long stay is excluded. The data are episode based – an SMR01 episode is generated when a patient is discharged from hospital but also when a patient is transferred to a different hospital, significant facility, specialty or to the care of a different consultant.
An emergency admission occurs when, for clinical reasons, a patient is admitted at the earliest possible time after seeing a doctor. The patient may or may not be admitted through Accident & Emergency. Coding rules state that a Day Case patient should not be admitted as an emergency. Emergency admissions include stays where an emergency admission occurred at any point in the stay. Cancer admissions include stays where cancer is recorded as either the main or other condition at any point in the stay. The data relates to Scottish residents only. More information can be found on the Public Health Scotland website. Data are Official Statistics.
Inter Departmental Business Register
The Inter Departmental Business Register (IDBR), which is sourced mainly from administrative data, is the underlying data source for a number of indicators included in this publication. The Inter Departmental Business Register is maintained by the ONS and is a database of all registered enterprises operating in the UK, i.e. enterprises that are registered for VAT and/or PAYE. It covers 99% of economic activity in the UK. Those excluded are small sole traders or partnerships with no employees and an annual turnover of less than the VAT threshold. The VAT threshold has been £85,000 since 1 April 2017.
The Business demography, UK publication in the source of the data on business openings and closures. Further information on the quality of the Business demography, UK publication can be found on the ONS website.
Further information and data from Business demography, UK can be found on the ONS website. Data are National Statistics.
The Businesses in Scotland publication provides information on the number of businesses operating in Scotland. The main purpose of the publication is to provide an estimate of Scotland’s business stock (the number of businesses operating in Scotland). The publication includes all businesses that operate in Scotland regardless of where the business is based. Further information and data from Businesses in Scotland can be found on the Scottish Government website. Data are National Statistics.
National Records of Scotland
For tables and figures referencing the National Records of Scotland (NRS), figures are derived from a number of sources: Mid-Year Population Estimates, Vital Events (Registered Births and Deaths), Migration Flows (which are produced as part of the overall Mid-Year Population Estimates) and Life Expectancy in Scotland.
Information on the methodology used to calculate the mid-year population estimates can be found on the NRS website.
Information on vital events, including registered births and deaths, can be found on the NRS website.
Information on the methodology used to calculate migration data can be found on the NRS website.
Information on the methodology used to calculate the life expectancy data can be found on the NRS website.
Further information and data produced by the NRS can be found on the NRS website. All data are National Statistics.
Residential Property Sales
Information on the number and value of house sales in Scotland is obtained from Registers of Scotland. The house price statistics include all residential sales in Scotland between £20,000 and £1,000,000, and are based on date of registration. Further data on house price statistics can be found on the Registers of Scotland website. Data are Official Statistics.
Scottish Crime and Justice Survey
Information on crime rates have been sourced from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS). The SCJS is a large-scale social survey which asks people about their experiences and perceptions of crime. In 2018-19, around 5,500 face-to-face interviews were conducted with adults (aged 16 and over) in private households in Scotland.
As a sample survey of the general public, SCJS results are estimated values with margins of error, rather than exact counts. Further information on the process used to calculate estimates is provided in the SCJS 2018/19 - Technical Report. Please refer to the SCJS 2018/19 - Users Statistical Testing Tool to calculate confidence intervals around estimates from the SCJS. Where the unweighted base is 50 respondents or below, data are not displayed as low base sizes are subject to larger confidence intervals.
Further information and data from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey can be found on the Scottish Government website. Data are National Statistics.
Scottish Household Survey
The Scottish Household Survey (SHS) is a continuous survey based on a sample of the general population in private residences in Scotland. The SHS is designed to provide reliable and up-to-date information on the composition, characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of Scottish households and individuals, both nationally and at a sub-national level, and to examine the physical condition of Scotland’s homes. It covers a wide range of topics. Further information on the methodology of the SHS can be found on the Scottish Government website.
For tables and figures sourced from the SHS, the unweighted base numbers for households population, rounded to the nearest ten, are 1,070 for remote rural, 1,160 for accessible rural, and 8,350 for the rest of Scotland. There are occasional variations in base sizes for individual tables and figures. The base number for the different categories are included in the tables and the tables used to populate the figures. The sample sizes are smallest for remote rural areas so there are larger confidence intervals associated with the statistics for this area than for the rest of Scotland figures.
The likely extent of sampling variability can be quantified by calculating the ‘standard error’ associated with an estimate produced from a random sample. Alongside the SHS 2019: Annual Report there is a table published that shows the 95% confidence limits for a range of estimates calculated for a range of sample sizes. The 95% confidence limits for the estimates included in the Rural Scotland Key Facts 2021 can be approximated using the estimates and corresponding base numbers and the estimated sampling error table published alongside the SHS 2019: Annual Report. Further information on confidence intervals and statistical significance, as well as the table showing the estimated sampling error associated with different proportions and sample sizes in 2019, can be found in the supporting file titled Scottish Household Survey – Annual Report 2019 – Confidence intervals and statistical significance that was published alongside the SHS 2019: Annual Report.
Estimates from the SHS are suppressed where the base on which percentages are calculated is less than 50. Such data are judged to be insufficiently reliable for publication. Estimates with base numbers close to 50 should also be treated with caution. Even though these estimates have been published, they are subject to high levels of volatility and have a high degree of uncertainty around them.
Further information on the Scottish Household Survey can be found on the Scottish Government website. Data are National Statistics.
Scottish House Condition Survey
The Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) is an annual sample survey, and the only national survey to look at the physical condition of Scotland’s homes as well as the experiences of householders. From 2012 onwards, the SHCS is a module of the SHS. In general, around one third of respondents to the SHS are invited to participate in a follow-up inspection by SHCS building surveyors. For 2019, this was increased to almost half of respondents to ensure that the required number of households for the physical survey sample was achieved.
As with the SHS and other surveys, the figures from the SHCS are estimates of the true prevalence within the population and will contain some error associated with sampling variability. The likely size of such variability can be identified, by taking account of the size and design of the sample. Further information can be found in Section 7 – Technical Notes and Definitions of the Scottish House Condition Survey: 2019 Key Findings report. Section 7 also includes a table that can be used to calculate approximate 95% Confidence Limits for estimates based on data from the SHCS.
In general, the smaller the sample size, the greater the likelihood the estimate could be misleading, so more care must be taken when using smaller subsets of the survey sample for analysis. For the data from the SHCS any estimates representing two or fewer cases, or where the base sample is below 30 have been suppressed.
In addition, for the SHCS testing statistical significance follows the method described in the SHS 2019: Annual Report supporting document Scottish Household Survey – Annual Report 2019 – Confidence intervals and statistical significance.
There have been some methodological changes relating to the SHCS since the publication of the Rural Scotland Key Facts 2018:
- There has been an update to the version of Reduced data Standard Assessment Procedure (RdSAP) used in the methodology for assessing the energy efficiency and environmental performance of dwellings. From 2018 onwards SAP 2012 will be based on RdSAP v9.93 rather than RdSAP v9.92. This change does not affect within year comparisons.
- In addition, in July 2019 the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019, received Royal Assent. This Act contained a new definition of fuel poverty which affects the methodology behind how fuel poverty is defined and measured. This change does not affect within year comparisons.
These changes are described in more detail in the Scottish House Condition Survey: Methodology Notes 2018.
Further information on Scottish House Condition Survey can be found on the Scottish Government website. Data are National Statistics.
Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) provides a wealth of information to help improve the understanding about the outcomes and circumstances of people living in the most deprived areas in Scotland. Data used for SIMD indicators are sourced from administrative systems and come from different data providers. Administrative data are collected by government departments and other organisations, and consist of information gathered primarily for operational reasons, such as registration, transactions and record-keeping, usually when delivering a service. Their statistical use is therefore secondary. This type of data are not specifically collected for analysis and research purposes, and are subject to the same types of inherent uncertainty common in most large-scale administrative systems. The SIMD team is proactive in quality assuring and investigating the data to ensure they are fit for purpose. Further details can be found in the SIMD 2020 technical notes.
Information on drive times to services and the number of people experiencing income and employment deprivation from the SIMD are presented in this publication. For the SIMD, employment and income deprivation are defined by receipt of benefits related to unemployment, low-income and disability. More information on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2020 can be found on the Scottish Government website. Data are National Statistics.
The Annual Population Survey, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, Scottish Household Survey and Scottish House Condition Survey figures are all based on surveys which sample a proportion of residents of Scotland. Figures quoted are best estimates of the true value, based on the survey results which have been weighted to represent the population. However, small differences in estimates, between geographic areas and years, are not necessarily always statistically significant.
Related publications by Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services
- Understanding the Scottish Rural Economy
- Community Ownership in Scotland collection
- Agriculture Facts and Figures collection
- Economic Report on Scottish Agriculture collection
Activity Agreements were ‘agreements between a young person and an advisor that the young person will take part in a programme of learning and activity which helps them to become ready for formal learning or employment’.
Since 2010-11, a separate ‘Activity Agreement’ category has been included in school leaver destination statistics and counted as a positive destination.
The integration of funding streams, as part of the ongoing implementation of ‘No One Left Behind’ means that although local authorities will provide the same type of support and opportunities for young people, this activity will no longer be funded under the banner of ‘Activity Agreements’. This means it is no longer appropriate to record school leavers receiving this support under this category. Instead, school leavers receiving this support who left during or at the end of the 2018-19 academic year are recorded in the Training category. Note that data for earlier years continues to include the Activity Agreements category reflecting the support and funding streams available at the time. This means that the proportion of school leavers recorded in the Training category in 2018-19 is not directly comparable with the proportion recorded in this category in previous years.
‘No One Left Behind’ was a review of employability services that set out the next steps that will be taken to deliver more effective and joined-up employability support across Scotland. As part of this the funding streams associated with Activity Agreements and other programmes are being integrated into a new local employability delivery model managed collaboratively between Scottish Government and local government from April 2019.
Energy Performance Certificates – Energy Efficiency Ratings
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) were introduced in January 2009 under the requirements of the EU Energy Performance Building Directive (EPBD). They provide energy and environmental ratings for buildings based on standardized usage. EPCs are required when a property is either sold or rented to a new tenant.
EPCs are generated through the use of a standard calculation methodology, known as Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP). SAP is the UK Government approved way of assessing the energy performance of a building, taking into account the energy needed for space and water heating, ventilation and lighting and, where relevant, energy generated by renewables. Outputs include the Energy Efficiency Rating (EER). From 2018 onwards SAP 2012 will be based on RdSAP v9.93 rather than RdSAP v9.92.
The EER is expressed on a scale of 1 to 100 where a dwelling with a rating of 1 will have very poor energy efficiency and high fuel bills, while 100 represents very high energy efficiency and low fuel bills. Ratings can exceed 100 where the dwelling generates more energy than it uses. Ratings are adjusted for floor area so that they are essentially independent of dwelling size for a given built form.
For EPCs EERs are presented over seven bands, labelled A to G. For EERs, band A represents low energy cost and high energy efficiency, while band G denotes high energy cost and low energy efficiency.
More information about EPCs can be found on the Scottish Government website.
As set out in Section 3 of the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019 a household is in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime:
- Total fuel costs necessary for the home are more than 10% of the household’s adjusted net income (after housing costs;, and
- If after deducting fuel costs, benefits received for a care need or disability and childcare costs, the household’s remaining adjusted net income is insufficient to maintain an acceptable standard of living. The remaining adjusted net income must be at least 90% of the UK Minimum Income Standard to be considered an acceptable standard of living, with an additional amount added for households in remote rural, remote small town and island areas.
Extreme fuel poverty follows the same definition except that a household would have to spend more than 20% of its adjusted net income (after housing costs) on total fuel costs and maintain a satisfactory heating regime.
- A ‘single adult’ household contains one adult aged 16 to 64 and no children.
- A ‘small adult’ household contains two adults aged 16-64 and no children.
- A ‘single parent’ household contains one adult of any age and one or more children.
- A ‘small family’ household contains two adults of any age and one or two children.
- A ‘large family’ household contains two adults of any age and three or more children, or three or more adults of any age and one or more children.
- A ‘large adult’ household contains three or more adults and no children.
- An ‘older smaller’ household contains one adult aged 16-64 and one of pensionable age and no children, or two adults of pensionable age and no children.
- A ‘single older’ household contains one adult of pensionable age (65 or over) and no children.
It should be noted that the definition of a ‘single parent’ does not make any distinction between situations where a child has regular contact and/or partly resides with their other parent and a child who solely resides with and is cared for by one parent.
The Scottish Household Survey collects information on the ways in which households occupy their accommodation and from which organisation or individual their accommodation is rented, where this is the case. These are combined into a housing tenure variable, namely:
- Owner occupied, which includes households who own outright and those buying with a mortgage or loan.
- The social rented sector, which includes households renting from a local authority or from a Housing Association or Co-operative.
- The private rented sector, which includes households renting from an individual private landlord or where they are renting their property from family, friends or their employer.
- Other tenure, which includes any other category of tenure such as living rent free.
Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification
The Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification is based on settlement size as defined by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and accessibility based on drive time analysis to differentiate between accessible and remote areas in Scotland. The classification is updated every two years although the definition of urban and rural areas remains unchanged. Settlements of less than 3,000 population are defined as rural, settlements of between 3,000 and 10,000 population are small towns and the remainder are classified as urban (10,000 plus population). Small towns and urban areas are described as ’Rest of Scotland’ in this publication.
The latest version of the classification is the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification 2016. The Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification 2016 updates the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification 2013-2014 with the latest available population settlement and drive time estimates.
Where possible, it is appropriate to use the classification that relates to the year it is being applied to or the most recent version of the classification that is available if this is not possible. As a result, most of the tables in this publication are based on the 2016 classification.
The majority of data used in this publication have been assigned a Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification based on unit postcodes. The remaining data have been assigned using data zones, which have been have been classified into the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification using ‘best fit’ methods. Further information on this is available from the urban rural publication link above.
Alternative urban rural classifications are used in the other regions of the UK. In England and Wales the Rural Urban Classification that is mainly used defines rural areas based on settlements of less than 10,000 people. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) Urban - Rural Classification is the most widely used classification in Northern Ireland and is based on population size, population density and service provision.
The Scottish Government uses the Urban Rural Classification as it is very flexible i.e. not only can it be used to show the degree of rurality of an area, it can also be used to distinguish between accessible and remote areas, irrespective of rurality. The classification also has the flexibility to be compressed to either a 2-fold (urban, rural) or 3-fold classification (remote rural, accessible rural, rest of Scotland), depending on user needs.
In Rural Scotland Key Facts we have chosen to use the 3-fold Urban Rural Classification to contrast rural Scotland to the rest of Scotland to highlight key differences and similarities between the areas. The 3-fold classification also allows us to identify differences between remote rural and accessible rural areas i.e. areas which are within and outwith reasonable drive times of larger settlements and key services.
The Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification is also easy to understand and apply both within and outwith the Scottish Government. In addition, the nature of rurality is different in each region of the United Kingdom and it is therefore preferable to use a classification best suited to each region’s needs. For example, the current England and Wales rural population threshold of 10,000 people would not be appropriate for use in the Scottish context.
Alongside the release of the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification 2016, a storymap was created to give an introduction to the classification. The storymap also highlights that other Urban Rural Classifications for Scotland exist in addition to the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification. One of the primary other classifications used within the government is the Randall Classification.
The Randall Classification was originally produced in 1985 for the Scottish Economic Bulletin. The classification is calculated using population density within local authorities. Any local authority with a population of <1 person/Ha is considered ‘rural’. Other Urban Rural Classifications have also been used within the Scottish Government, although these tend to be designed with a very express purpose in mind.
The storymap then goes onto look at the Rural Urban Classification for England and Wales and the Urban Rural Classification for Northern Ireland.
Glossary of Abbreviations and Acronyms
- APS Annual Population Survey
- ASHE Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings
- CV Coefficient of Variation
- COVID-19 Coronavirus
- CJRS Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- DSL Digital Subscriber Line
- EER Energy Efficiency Rating
- EPBD Energy Performance Building Directive
- EPC Energy Performance Certificate
- EU European Union
- GP General Practitioner
- HNC Higher National Certificate
- HND Higher National Diploma
- IDBR Inter Departmental Business Register
- LFS Labour Force Survey
- NISRA Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
- NRS National Records of Scotland
- ONS Office for National Statistics
- PAYE Pay As You Earn
- PSD Personal Skills Development
- RdSAP Reduced data Standard Assessment Procedure
- SAP Standard Assessment Procedure
- SCJS Scottish Crime and Justice Survey
- SHCS Scottish House Condition Survey
- SHS Scottish Household Survey
- SIMD Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
- SMR01 Scottish Morbidity Record 01
- SDS Skills Development Scotland
- SME Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
- UK United Kingdom
- VAT Value Added Tax
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