15 February 2020

A new report published today by the Scottish Government has shown that levels of "social capital" have decreased.

Social capital refers to the social connections that contribute to people’s health and safety, as well as their wellbeing in both economic and social terms.

The social capital "index", which measures factors such as community empowerment and social participation, has fallen by 5% between 2017-2018, after a period of stability since 2013.

Among other findings the report tells us that:

· Twenty-one per cent of people said they experience loneliness regularly

· Twenty per cent said they feel they have influence over local decisions, meaning 4 out of 5 people feel a lack of influence over what happens in their community.

· People in more deprived areas are 87 per cent more likely to report feelings of loneliness

· People from deprived areas are also 25 per cent less likely to say they have places to meet and interact.

· Overall, disabled people, people in socially rented housing and people in more deprived areas have higher levels of loneliness and lower levels of social interaction.

The report states that, in order to increase levels of social capital, it is essential that there are good quality, affordable and accessible places and spaces where people spend time, gather and meet.

Scottish Labour said that continued disinvestment in local authorities was impacting on opportunities for people to build social capital.

Scottish Labour communities and equalities spokesperson Pauline McNeill said:

“This report makes clear the human cost of the SNP’s continued cuts to local government.

“As the Improvement Service highlighted in their National Benchmarking Overview Report published a fortnight ago, there has been a 23% reduction in culture and leisure spending across Scotland, and “Scottish local government is now operating in a more challenging setting with greater demand for services against a tightening budget.

“The continued cuts to local government are holding back communities and entrenching socio-economic inequality.

“Throughout the budget process Scottish Labour will continue to fight for a fair deal for local authorities to ensure that everyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity to thrive.”
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