Scottish independence: Is £500 the referendum deal breaker?

Pile of money Why £500? Did pollsters and researchers base it on hard facts, or guess work?

Could a seemingly random sum of money help voters make their decision in the Scottish independence referendum?

Since 2011, the authors of a survey on Scottish social attitudes have been asking the same key questions based around the figure of £500.

If under independence you were £500 better off would you say "yes" in the referendum and if you were £500 worse off would you say "no" in the referendum?

For ScotCen Social Research, which conducts the annual survey, the findings are clear.

In the 2013 report - involving the interviewing of 1,497 people between June and October - the suggestion was......

  • 52% would support independence, and 30% would oppose it if £500 a year better off
  • 15% would support independence, and 72% would oppose it if £500 a year worse off

In the 2011 report - when 1,197 people participated - the suggestion was....

  • 65% would support independence, and 24% would oppose it if £500 a year better off
  • 21% would support independence, and 66% would oppose it if £500 a year worse off

So, could £500 be the referendum deal breaker? And if so, why?

Prof John Curtice, research consultant with ScotCen Social Research, said he and his team were the first to use the figure. But was it based on hard facts or totally random?

Who has used the £500 figure?

He explained: "We first asked the question in 2011 as we sought to better understand the trade-offs that the public were making in forming their view of Scottish independence.

"It was designed to assess how much economic considerations would influence support for independence.

"The £500 figure was a best guess for an amount of money big enough to have impact on a person's material well-being, symbolic of an improvement in an individual's standard of living, but not so large as to completely override everything else."

Since Prof Curtice settled on using £500 for his research, other pollsters have followed suit.

ICM's September 2013 poll showed that if people could be convinced an independent Scotland would make you richer by the amount of £500, 56% would vote "yes" and 44% would vote "no".

The promise of a £500 deficit on the other hand produced a "yes" vote of 22% and a 78% "no" vote.

Panelbase has used the figure twice - in February 2012 and November 2013 - but with a different question entirely.

Personal finance

Instead of offering its sample the £500 figure as a guarantee, it asked participants: "In terms of your personal circumstances which of these statements most closely reflects your view?" It then gave them the following answers to choose from:

  • I believe I would be at least £500 better off per year in an independent Scotland (13% in February 2012, 15% in November 2013).
  • I believe an independent Scotland would make little difference to my financial circumstances (40% in 2012, 26% in 2013).
  • I believe I would be at least £500 worse off per year in an independent Scotland (20% in 2012, 34% in 2013).
  • Don't know (27% in 2012, 25% in 2013).

Panelbase Managing Director Ivor Knox said he used the ScotCen Social Research figure of £500 "for consistency" reasons.

Regardless of what sum of money you go for, Prof Curtice believes research consistently shows how important an individual's personal finances are when it comes to making a choice in the independence referendum debate.

He believed people seemed to be saying: "You know what, I might be able and willing to vote for independence,

"I might be willing to leave my Britishness aside if I think I am going to be better off, but equally, conversely, a lot of people who feel strongly Scottish say, look I'm not going to do it unless you can convince me I am going to be better off.

"So, that in the end is why this issue of economy kicks in. Voters need more than just their sense of identity to decide how they are going to vote."

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    Away from the sporting arenas, watching four-year-old twins Ollie and Caleb and their wee sister Phoebe, aged two, recreate each Games event at their home in Aberdeen, filmed lovingly by mum Aly and dad Dave, melted my heart too.

    Caleb, Ollie and Phoebe Brown recreate the Commonwealth Games in their garden

    We want to hear about your inspirational moments - either on or off the field. Tweet us using #ScotlandLive, email us or text 80295.

     
  81.  
    If you go out in the woods today 12:38: Via Twitter

    Radio 5 Live sport presenter Jonathan Overend seems to be enjoying himself at the mountain biking competition at Cathkin Braes.

    He tweets: Out in the woods. Lost. Brilliant atmos. #Glasgow2014@bbc5live

    Cathkin Braes
     
  82.  
    Refunds for Games fans 12:24:

    People who missed Commonwealth Games events due to transport problems in and around Glasgow at the weekend have been told they can apply for refunds.

    Crowds around Hampden for Glasgow 2014

    Organiser Glasgow 2014 said spectators affected should keep their tickets and apply via email, with requests being considered on a case-by-case basis.

     
  83.  
    Update from the Games 12:13:

    In the lawn bowls, Scotland's Open Triples team make it two wins out of two matches following their victory over Wales. Their next match is against England between 15:45 and 18:00 BST.

    At the Barry Buddon Shooting Centre, Scotland's Jon Hammond and Neil Stirton have both qualified for the final of the 50m rifle 3 position. The final starts at 15:30 BST.

    In the wrestling, Brian Harper was defeated by Shane Parker in the round of 16.

    Daniel Wallace

    Daniel Wallace won his 200m individual medley heat and has gone through to tonight's final at 19:47 BST. Scotland's women finished third in their 4x100m medley relay heat and qualified for the final tonight, which will take place around 21:00 BST.

    Gillian Edwards lost 4-2 to Guernsey's Alice Loveridge in her women's singles table tennis, while Meggan Dawson-Farrell finished fourth in her T54 1500m heat and will have to wait and see if she qualifies for the final.

     
  84.  
    Wallace monumental 12:01: Via Twitter BBC Sport Scotland

    tweets: #2014swimming - @danwallace_ wins his 200m individual medley heat.

    Wallace wins race at Glasgow 2014
     
  85.  
    Badminton mishap 11:56:

    Badminton can be a dangerous game, it seems.

    Watch as official Jim Gauld is hit in the face by a shuttlecock following a miss-hit shot by Kenya's Joseph Matheri Githitu.

    Jim Gauld hit in face with shuttlecock

    Thankfully Gauld saw the funny side.

     
  86.  
    On today's show 11:50: John Beattie BBC Scotland

    Today, we will be discussing tourism and the Commonwealth Games. Is Glasgow 2014 the best tourism advert for Scotland ever?

    We've also been to Kiwi House to find out how they've liked the city and how they've claimed a bit of Scotland as their own.

    We will also be live at Cathkin Braes for the mountain biking. Join us from noon on BBC Radio Scotland or listen online.

     
  87.  
    House price rise 11:30:

    Average house prices in Scotland have risen by 5.9%, according to the latest figures from Registers of Scotland.

    It said the average cost of a home, in the three months to June, now stood at just over £162,000.

     
  88.  
    Nigerian athlete fails drugs test 11:21: Via Twitter Chris McLaughlin Commonwealth Games reporter, BBC Sport

    tweets: Nigerian weightlifter Chika Amalaha becomes the first athlete to fail a drugs test during #Glasgow2014 Games.

     
  89.  
    Harry photobomb 11:07:

    Following the Queen's unexpected photobomb of the Aussie team last week, it seems Prince Harry wants a piece of the action too.

    Prince Harry photobomb

    The prince gave a cheeky thumbs up to Glasgow 2014 after finding his way in to this Commonwealth Games Federation picture.

    Have you been photobombed by a royal? Or an athlete? Tweet us your pics using #ScotlandLive, or email them here.

     
  90.  
    Highlights from day five 10:48:

    BBC Scotland's Andy Burke rounds up yesterday's Commonwealth Games highlights for the host nation.

    Libby Clegg

    His video features Libby Clegg, Laura Muir, Ross Murdoch, Joe Ham, lawn bowls, shooting and gymnastics.

     
  91.  
    The germ-spreading handshake - your views 10:43: Via SMS

    Norrie: If folk would just wash their hands there would be no problems. What next? Ban kissing and rubbing noses!!

    Helen in Cumbernauld: Get a life, what about our exposure and handling of coins, money, keyboards, mobile phones and chopping boards in our kitchens? They probably contain more bacteria. Good hand washing and building immunity would b better.

    Jim Robb: This is getting silly. Wash your hands at the appropriate time and live a little!

     
  92.  
    Wrestling action 10:33: Via Twitter BBC Sport Scotland

    tweets: Watch live wrestling featuring Scots Ross McFarlane, Brian Harper, and Donna and Fiona Robertson.

     
  93.  
    Spectacular stunts 10:22:

    Stunt rider Danny MacAskill will perform some spectacular tricks as part of the BBC at the Quay entertainment festival from 11.00.

    Danny MacAskill

    If you're a classical music lover, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra will be playing scores from Hollywood movies such as ET, Superman and Jurassic Park at Glasgow Green between 14:00 and 15:00.

    There will also be a Prom concert featuring folk singer Rachel Sermanni from 18:30.

     
  94.  
    Stop and search - your views 10:08: Via SMS

    H in Edinburgh: Just let police do their job. We can't do without them. If you have nothing to hide then nothing to fear.

    Al in Edinburgh: The new police state Police Scotland imposing Strathclyde policies on a one-fits-all basis is alienating the public.

    Mags: I have no problems with stop and search. It's just like CCTV, if you have nothing to hide then what's the problem? Some people talk about CCTV being an infringement on our rights but how many criminals, sex attackers etc have been caught on camera?

     
  95.  
    Murder charge 09:55:

    Police Scotland say the attack on Edinburgh pensioner Eleanor Whitelaw in her Morningside home is now being treated as murder.

    Robert Buczek, 23, was initially charged with attempted murder and assault to severe injury and danger of life when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday.

    Mrs Whitelaw, 85, was taken to hospital two weeks ago, but it was announced earlier this morning that she had died.

     
  96.  
    A lasting legacy? 09:41:

    Last week we asked you to help us track down pupils from Glasgow's St Mungo's Academy in Bridgeton, who spoke to the BBC in 2007, just minutes before the city found out its bid to host the Commonwealth Games had been successful.

    With your help we found them.

    Sean Bell and Hayley Mitchell

    They were the east end's new generation, who could be in line to benefit from promises of jobs, homes and new opportunities - if the Games came to Glasgow.

    So, did the Games deliver? Find out here.

     
  97.  
    Pensioner found injured dies 09:30:

    An 85-year-old woman who was found seriously injured in her Edinburgh home has died.

    Eleanor Whitelaw was taken to hospital two weeks ago after being found in her Morningside home.

    The morningside home of Eleanor Whitelaw

    Robert Buczek, 23, was charged with attempted murder and assault to severe injury and danger of life when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday.

    He made no plea or declaration and was remanded in custody.

     
  98.  
    Legia Warsaw 'step up' 09:25:

    Celtic's assistant manager John Collins has told BBC Scotland Legia Warsaw will be a "step up" from KR Reykjavik.

    Speaking at Glasgow Airport as the team flew out to Poland for tomorrow night's Champions League qualifier, Collins said: "There's no doubt it's going to be a tough match.

    John Collins

    "We watched them last week in Dublin. Good team - they scored four goals so at this stage of the tournament you're not going to play against any mugs. There's no doubt it's a step up in quality from Reykjavik.

    "It's better to play them away from home first then get them back to Murrayfield. But we're going to have to play well - they're organised, they're quite quick and they score goals."

    Celtic's match tomorrow kicks off at 19:45, with the return leg in Edinburgh on 6 August.

     
  99.  
    Morning Call 09:18: Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    This morning we're taking your views on stop and search - does the system affect your trust in the police?

    We're also going to talking about curbing the spread of germs - is it time to end the handshake?

    Lines are open now. Call 0500 92 95 00, text 80295 or email morningcallscotland@bbc.co.uk

    You can listen live to the debate here.

     
  100.  
    Newspaper review 09:14:

    Scotland's record-equalling haul of medals at Glasgow 2014 dominates the front pages on most of the country's newspapers this morning.

    Front pages 29 July
     

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