TRUST in Nicola Sturgeon’s government has fallen for the second year in a row, amid mounting levels of dissatisfaction with the NHS and standards of living.

The level of people who trusted it to make fair decisions also dropped in 2017.

However the findings, drawn from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey and released as official statistics, showed trust in the Scottish government remained massively greater than trust in the UK government.

Faith in the Scottish Government peaked in 2015, Ms Sturgeon’s first full year as First Minister, when 73 per cent of voters trusted it to act in the country’s best interests and 49 per cent trusted it to make fair decisions.

However those numbers fell to 65 and 40 per cent respectively in 2016, and last year fell again to 61 per cent and 37 per cent.

Trust in the UK government to act in Scotland’s best interests was 23 per cent in 2015, 25 per cent in 2016 and 20 per cent last year, while trust in it to make fair decisions was 18 per cent in 2015 and 2016, and down to 16 per cent in 2017.

Most people felt the Scottish Government was not good at listening to people’s views before taking decisions, with 48 per cent saying this, compared to 47 per cent (down from 54 per cent in 2016) who said it was good at listening.

Satisfaction with the NHS was down, from 60 per cent in recent years to 55 per cent in 2017.

The proportion of people who said NHS standards were worse rose from 37 to 49 per cent.

Of those who thought standards had fallen, 46 per cent attributed this to UK Government policy, 27 per cent to Scottish Government policy, and 13 per cent to “some other reason”.

The survey also showed a sharp reversal in optimism.

Between 2011 and 2016, fewer and fewer people felt living standards were in decline.

However in 2017, the proportion of people who said that the general standard of living had decreased was 56 per cent compared with 36 per cent in 2016.

In 2016, 19 per cent of Scots said the standard of living had improved and 38 per cent said it had stayed the same but last year this fell to 14 and 26 per cent respectively.

For the first time, improving education standards was the voters’ top priority - since 2009 it had been helping the economy grow - suggesting possible public concern about school standards.

Tackling crime has fallen sharply, the top priority for just 6 per cent of people last year compared to 27 per cent when the SNP came to office in 2007.

Exactly half of respondents thought the economy had weakened in the past year, compared with 54 per cent in 2016.

Of those who felt that the economy was weaker, 39 per cent put it down to UK Government policy, 29 per cent to Scottish Government policy, and 15 per cent to ‘some other reason’.

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: "People are right to demand change from the SNP Government when it comes to education and the NHS.

“The impact of their decade of mismanagement is indisputable.

"Nicola Sturgeon should abandon her plans for independence which her own Growth Commission showed would put the economy, education and NHS budgets at risk."

Scottish Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said: “More people think the standard of living has decreased, satisfaction with the NHS is declining and people are clearly increasingly frustrated with the SNP’s failure to support our teachers and pupils.

“Faith in both the Tory and SNP governments is deteriorating. It is clear people are increasingly tired of austerity, cuts to services and Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon’s politics of division. Only Labour offers a message of hope and real change.”

Green MSP Ross Greer added: “It’s understandable trust in the Westminster government remains considerably lower than the Scottish Government, but the SNP cannot ignore this dip in the public’s faith in the job they are doing.

“It’s certainly no surprise that more people want to see improving education as their top priority given the absolute shambles of their current approach.”

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the figures showed the government was "maintaining the trust of the Scottish people".

He said: "They demonstrate without question that our priorities and budget decisions are in line with what the public expect – improving education, growing the economy and protecting frontline health service.

“Not only do the figures vindicate the decisive, fair action taken by the Scottish Government, they also demonstrate public support for the Scottish Government having the greatest influence over how Scotland is run.

"It is essential that the UK Government reflects this strength of public feeling and responds to our demands on fairer immigration policies, reversing austerity and halting the Brexit power grab on devolved responsibilities.

“We will keep working hard to maintain the trust the public has placed in us, especially as we – and indeed the whole of the UK – face uncertain times and the negative impact of Brexit.”