05/02/2012 07:00 GMT | Updated 06/04/2012 06:12 BST

Scottish Independence - Poll Shows Nation Unsure And Divided

The gap between backers and opponents of Scottish independence stands at around 5%, a new poll has suggested.

A survey for The Sunday Times and Real Radio Scotland asked 1,000 adults: "Do you agree that Scotland should become an independent country?"

Thirty-seven percent of those quizzed agreed with the statement, while 42% disagreed.

However, more than a fifth of voters, 21%, said they were undecided on the issue.

Of those who were clear about their opinion, 47% said they were for independence and 53% were against it.

The question asked in the poll is the SNP's preferred wording for the referendum question.

Asked about further powers for Holyrood, almost half agreed that there should be "a further significant devolution of laws, taxes and duties to the Scottish Parliament". A quarter were undecided and a quarter disagreed.

However, if the referendum asked voters to chose between independence, giving the Scottish parliament more powers but staying within the UK or keeping things as they are now, the poll pointed to a small majority in favour of independence.

The research was conducted by Panelbase.

The study also offers an insight into people's current views on how life could be in an independent Scotland.

It found that more Scots than not think independence would be good for the nation's health, education, culture and environment, but revealed a concern about the impact of such a move on people's pockets.

Seven times as many (64%) said independence would have a positive effect on Scottish culture than a negative effect (9%) and three times as many (59%) said it would be good for Scottish confidence rather than bad (19%).

More than twice as many (42%) think that an independent Scotland would be good for the nation's health than think it would be bad (17%); and people are also positive about education (47% compared with 19%).

Exactly half of Scots believe it would be positive for the environment, while 15% think the opposite. More than a quarter (27%) said it would cut crime while 17% think it could rise.

Forty-three percent of those quizzed predicted that their personal tax burden would rise under independence, while around 11% believed that it would fall.

Opinion was evenly split on whether the value of the state pension would go up or down.

Questioned on the European single currency, three-quarters of respondents said Scotland would be worse off financially if it adopted the euro.

Ivor Knox, of Panelbase, told The Sunday Times: "The economy is probably the most uncertain issue of the debate, and could play a decisive role. While even opponents of independence have some positive expectations of its impact on most aspects of Scottish life, an overwhelming majority of them believe the economic effect would be negative."

The poll studied the views of 1,000 Scottish adults between January 27 and February 1 this year.