Island Life 'A Model' For Scottish Communities

Posted by Jamie Livingstone Campaigns and Communications Manager for Scotland

21st May 2012

Island life is closest to what Scots want for themselves and their families, according to new research by Oxfam Scotland which hopes to influence local decision making across the country.

Island life is closest to what Scots want for themselves and their families, according to new research by Oxfam Scotland which hopes to influence local decision making across the country. 

The Oxfam Humankind Index for Scotland is a new measure of Scotland's prosperity, based on people's real priorities beyond standard measures like economic growth. 

The charity spoke with ordinary Scots across the country and has now released a break-down of how Scotland's 32 local authority areas are performing in meeting those needs

The top three council areas were Shetland, Eilean Siar (Western Isles) and Orkney - largely because people feel safer, have stronger community spirit and live in a more pleasant environment.

Some 93% of people in Shetland said they had good community spirit, with 91% in Orkney and 88% in Eilean Siar. The Scottish average was 72%.

Some 82% of people in Shetland thought they had a pleasant environment in which to live, with 79% in Eilean Siar and 70% in Orkney. The figure across Scotland was 59%.

Just 20% of Scots as a whole said they live in a safe environment. In contrast, the figure in Shetland was 68%, in Eilean Siar it was 52% and in Orkney it was 46%.

Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "The Humankind Index for Scotland is different from traditional economic measures like Gross Domestic Product, because it's based on people's real priorities. 

"Things like community spirit and a safe environment are simply not measured by GDP.  This breakdown shows how badly Scotland needs a new measure of prosperity like the Humankind Index.

"It also shows that Scotland's islands can be a model for communities across the country and we urge councillors in every area to study these findings when formulating local policy."

During the research for the Humankind Index, Oxfam Scotland spoke to nearly 3000 people all over the country to find out the things that are most important to them. The New Economics Foundation then worked with Oxfam to weight people's priorities according to how important they were to them.

The Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University has used publicly-available research to judge how those priorities are being met across Scotland.

Dr Katherine Trebeck, Research and Policy Advisor for Oxfam Scotland, said: "The Humankind Index shows there are islands of prosperity in Scotland. Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are doing well in many of the areas that Scots have said are important to them.

"Across Scotland, new councillors are meeting to discuss the way forward for their communities. Oxfam believes that if they use the Humankind Index as a blueprint, they could make big improvements in the prosperity of the people they represent."

The Oxfam Humankind Index for Scotland - along with an appendix with more information about the local authority breakdown - is available here.

 The Oxfam Humankind Index for Scotland was 5492. Here is how Scotland's 32 local authority areas performed:


Blog post written by Jamie Livingstone

Campaigns and Communications Manager for Scotland

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