Fewer than one in five people believe independence is one of Scotland’s most important issues, a poll has found.

The survey for Scotland on Sunday also found support and opposition to independence was split 50/50.

Respondents were asked to pick their three “most important issues facing Scotland”, with half stating the economy was one of the key topics.

Health was the second most-selected option, chosen by 45 per cent of Scots, followed by employment and welfare at 35 per cent.

Education was one of the most important issues for 31 per cent of people, then Brexit (25 per cent) and Scottish independence (19 per cent).

According to Scotland on Sunday, independence as a key issue was at the lowest level recorded in its series of polls.

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The survey of 1,007 over-16s in Scotland also suggests an SNP majority or an SNP/Green coalition would have the most backing as the “best mandate” for a second independence referendum, rather than involvement from Alex Salmond’s new Alba party.

Results of the opinion poll, carried out for the paper by Savanta ComRes, published earlier in the week suggested the SNP would win 64 seats and narrowly miss out on an outright majority.

It predicted 10 pro-independence Scottish Green MSPs would be elected but Alba, on 3 per cent of the regional list vote, would fail to gain any seats.

The latest results of the poll indicate support for independence is at 50% when “don’t know” responses are excluded – the same as support for Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom.

More than half (53 per cent) say there should be another referendum on independence in the next five years, with 19 per cent of those believing it should take place within 12 months.

An SNP majority after the Holyrood election in May is backed as the “best mandate” for a second independence referendum by more than a quarter of Scots (27 per cent), followed by an SNP and Scottish Green coalition (14 per cent).

Another nine per cent believe a minority SNP government would be the best mandate for a referendum, seven per cent said it would be an Alba/SNP coalition and six per cent of Scots think the Greens being included would be the best mandate.

Examining recent opinion polls, political scientist and polling expert Professor John Curtice suggests the fallout from the inquiry into the Scottish Government’s unlawful investigation of Mr Salmond appears to have had no impact on the SNP’s constituency support.

Meanwhile, backing for independence has only dropped by one per cent on average since the winter.

He adds that there is “no more than mixed evidence” that the saga surrounding Mr Salmond and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has affected her personal approval ratings.

Writing for the What Scotland Thinks website, Mr Curtice said: “In truth, it looks as though that not only were the opposition’s hopes of bringing the First Minister down over the Salmond affair not realised, but also that the row has done little if any damage to the popularity of the nationalist movement in general or that of its principal spokesperson in particular.

“It is perhaps not surprising that an issue that some thought might dominate the election campaign now seems to have fallen off the political agenda entirely.”

Mr Curtice added that early polls for Mr Salmond’s return to frontline politics “have not been encouraging”.

“At the moment, even if he does manage to secure election to Holyrood, the former first minister is at risk of finding himself a lone figure in the new chamber,” he wrote.

Explaining Alba’s struggles, Mr Curtice said “relatively few nationalist supporters appear to believe that Mr Salmond’s intervention is helpful to the pursuit of independence”, while the former first minister himself is “deeply unpopular”.