Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Majority of Scots back using pound, says survey

coins and notes
Currency has become one of the major battlegrounds in the independence campaign

A majority of Scots think an independent Scotland should continue to use the pound, according to the Scottish Social Attitudes survey.

The annual survey showed 68% favoured using the pound in an agreement with the rest of the UK, with just 14% favouring a new currency.

Support for independence had increased slightly compared to 2013.

However, 39% of people thought they would be financially worse off under independence, up from 29% last year.

The researchers also found more uncertainty amongst women about the consequences of independence, with 27% saying they were sure what independence would bring, compared with 37% of men.

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Currency debate explained

People holding money
  • In February this year, Tory Chancellor George Osborne teamed up with the other Unionist parties and said Scotland would not be able to use the pound after a yes vote
  • Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said that Mr Osborne was bluffing and that if a Yes vote happened a more practical decision would be reached.
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The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey was conducted by ScotCen Social Research between May and July.

That means it predates a clash over sterling between First Minister Alex Salmond and Better Together leader Alistair Darling in a live TV debate, but comes after UK Chancellor George Osborne ruled out sharing the pound with an independent Scotland.

Seventy-four percent of those questioned said they were "very likely" to vote in the referendum on 18 September, an increase from 61% in 2013.

Of people surveyed, 25% said they would vote "Yes" to independence - up from 20% in 2013 - compared to 43% who said they would vote "No". Twenty-nine percent were undecided.

Survey highlights

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When asked what currency an independent Scotland should use if voters back independence, 68% backed using the pound in an agreement with the rest of the UK.

A currency union is the favoured option of the Scottish government, but the UK government and the major Westminster parties have said they would rule out such a deal.

Only 8% of people supported using the pound without a currency union, 14% backed adopting a new currency, 6% favoured the euro and 4% were undecided.

When asked to set aside what currency an independent Scotland should use and say what they thought it would use if independent, 46% still thought that it would use the pound in agreement with the rest of the UK.

Despite an increase in support for independence since 2013, only 10% of the total people surveyed thought they would be either "a little" or "a lot" better off, compared to 39% who thought they would be worse off.

A total of 39% thought that independence would make no difference to their personal finances.

The proportion who thought that the overall economy would be worse under independence stood at 44%, up from 34% in 2013.

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What about the rest of the UK?

Andrew Neil
  • BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil explores what an independent Scotland could mean for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. He also looks at what huge constitutional changes might lie ahead whether the vote is "Yes" or "No".
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The survey pointed to an increased reluctance amongst women to support independence.

Just 27% of women supported independence, compared with 39% of men. This 12 point gap is double that of 2013 (6%) and is the highest ever found in a Scottish Social Attitudes survey.

Rachel Ormston, research director at ScotCen, commented: "In the final weeks of the campaign, capturing women's votes remains a key challenge, particularly for the Yes campaign.

"Put off by uncertainty and less likely to be persuaded by patriotic arguments around 'pride', women still need to be convinced that independence will deliver on the economy and other areas.

"However, the No campaign should not assume it will automatically benefit from women's lower level of support for a Yes vote - nearly a third of women remain undecided how they will vote in September."

Survey highlights

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Nearly half of Scots surveyed - 47% - thought that independence would increase a sense of pride in their country, compared to 40% who thought it would make no difference and just 6% who would feel less proud.

However, 38% thought that independence would make Scotland's voice in the world either "a little" or "a lot" weaker, compared to 33% who thought it would be stronger and 22% who thought there would be no difference,

There had also been a slight increase in a sense of British identity.

When presented with a range of options ranging from "Scottish, not British" through to "British, not Scottish", the proportion who say they were "Scottish, not British" was 23%, the lowest it has been at any time since 1999.

The highest proportion since 1999 - 32% - said they were "equally Scottish and British".

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