TACKLING poverty and inequality is a key concern for Scots – though those living in the least-deprived areas are more likely to be worried about the economy.

Just over one-third of people (34%) described dealing with the problem of poverty and inequality as the top issue of concern facing Scotland right now, compared to 26% who cited the economy.

But the first-ever Understanding Scotland survey found that among those living in the most-deprived neighbourhoods, 38% were concerned about poverty and inequality with less than one-fifth (19%) worried about the economy. By contrast, in the least-deprived areas the economy was listed as a top concern by 34%.

More than 2000 people across Scotland were questioned for the survey, which has been launched by the research company Diffley Partnership and communications agency Charlotte Street Partners. It plans to provide quarterly research looking at public attitudes, behaviours and expectations on issues such as society, the economy, and the environment.

The first poll found the NHS is Scotland’s most trusted institution with 19% saying they trusted it “entirely” and 72% giving it a trust score of seven out of 10 or higher.

READ MORE: Scots more likely to say wealth distribution is 'unfair', poll finds

Meanwhile the research found that “the Government and the political system more broadly, were among the least trusted institutions overall”.

When asked if Scotland was “heading in the right direction” people were evenly split, with 43% saying it was and the same proportion stating it is not, while 14% were undecided.

Diffley Partnership founder and director Mark Diffley said: “Assessing the public mood as we emerge from the pandemic and start to deal with the economic headwinds coming towards us provides sobering reading for decision-makers.

“The public wants to see a fair recovery, focused both on tackling the inequalities that Covid has exacerbated and building the economic recovery. There is also significant concern about the issues dominating current debates, particularly around price rises and the cost of living.”

Malcolm Robertson, founding partner at Charlotte Street Partners, said: “The last 18 months have highlighted the need for fast but highly informed decision-making and we hope the Understanding Scotland survey will help inform private and public-sector organisations and policymakers as they weigh up a range of important decisions in the coming months and years.

“We have felt for a while that Scotland lacks a regular record of public opinion on the range of issues people are concerned about and we hope this new survey, Understanding Scotland, will serve that purpose as we continue to recover from Covid-19 and look ahead to decisive moments for the future of our planet, such as the COP26 gathering in Glasgow.”