SCOTS from the most deprived areas of the country are far less likely to read books, play musical instruments or take part in plays than their wealthier counterparts.

Figures show a growing “culture gap” between the rich and poor when it comes to participating in cultural activities, including reading for pleasure.

Analysis of the 2016 Scottish Household Survey found 88 per cent of Scotland’s wealthiest took part in culture in the last 12 months – compared to just 66 per cent of the least well-off.

Richer Scots were also much more likely to visit the cinema, go to gigs or attend the theatre.

Critics said the statistics showed “radical action” was needed to improve access to culture amid ongoing cuts to council services such as libraries.

Scottish Labour culture spokeswoman Claire Baker said: “These figures show that austerity and inequality isn’t just about the money in your pocket, it’s about the quality of life people can have.

“Cultural activity enriches our lives, be it through reading, visiting a museum or seeing a live performance.

“The figures reveal the huge gap that exists in almost every aspect of life between the richest and poorest in society. A further effective cut of £700 million to local authorities will just make this worse.

“It is clear that radical action is needed to address the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest, not just financially but right across society.”

In total, 95 per cent of those with a degree or professional qualification attended a cultural event in the last 12 months – including going to the cinema – compared to just 58 per cent of those with no qualifications.

Women were more likely than men to take part in cultural activities, though some past-times – such as playing a musical instrument or using a computer to produce creative work – were more common among men.

Cultural participation was lower for those with a physical or mental health condition.

Meanwhile, around half of adults reported being either very or fairly satisfied with council-run services such as museums, galleries, theatres, concert halls and libraries.

And satisfaction rates were found to be higher among those who regularly used the facilities.

A Scottish Government spokesman said the recent draft Budget had included a 10 per cent increase in spending on culture – bringing the total to £166.8 million next year.

He added: This will support key initiatives and help Scotland’s cultural sector to thrive.

“The Scottish Government is clear – background should never be a barrier to participating in culture.

“That is why we are committed to protecting free entry to national museums and galleries.”

He said the Government was currently developing a nation-wide culture strategy to set out “a vision and priorities for the future development of culture – including maximising participation regardless of background”.