Britons are confident that their public services can cope with the aftermath of Coronavirus

Confidence in the NHS remains high as Britons are confident that their public services will cope after the pandemic.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
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A new poll from Ipsos has found that Britons believe many public services are responding well to the Coronavirus pandemic. The research, carried out online among adults aged 18-75 from 1st-4th May, has the NHS rated most positively, with nine in ten (89%) saying it has responded well to the coronavirus pandemic so far, including 66% who say it has responded very well.  Other public services like schools (especially among parents) and the police also poll well with 68% and 67% respectively positive about how they have responded.

For comparison, two in three (64%) believe their fellow citizens have also responded well to the pandemic, while around half are positive about charities and businesses.  The highest negative ratings are for care homes and government departments organising benefits, although still only a minority (20%) think they have responded badly.  The largest proportions of neutral and don’t know responses are for the civil service, charities and businesses.

The survey also shows that most Britons are confident that these public services will be able to adapt their services to any changes in society caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Again, public confidence is highest in the NHS, followed by schools and the police, but there are more signs that a noticeable minority have worries.  Around one in four or more express doubts for government departments and agencies providing benefits, local authorities, businesses, care homes, public transport and the civil service.

The biggest challenge facing public services in responding to societal changes caused by the coronavirus, people believe, is a lack of funding with just over one in four selecting it as one of the main issues.  Other important barriers include lack of necessary equipment, overwork, bureaucracy and lack of staff.

While lack of funding is a key issue for all groups, it is particularly emphasised by Labour and Liberal Democrat voters, and remain voters in the 2016 referendum.  Conservative and Leave voters, on the other hand, are more likely than others to see too much bureaucracy as a challenge.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, confidence in the NHS has consistently been high and remains so in the latest poll with 84% of Britons confident that the NHS can deal with those who are ill as a result of getting Coronavirus.

Commenting on the findings, Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said:

It’s positive that Britons believe that a wide range of their public services are resilient in the face of what is the biggest public health crisis in a century. The strength of our NHS response to the Coronavirus pandemic is borne out in the consistently high confidence Britons have in it to deal with the fallout from the crisis.  However, there are signs of nervousness for some parts of the public sector.  Public services themselves will need to show they are equipped to respond, while people’s perennial concerns about  public services not getting the funding they need means pressure is likely to stay on Government spending to continue to ensure that public services come out of this crisis equipped to deal with the new normal.


Technical Note

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,077 British adults aged 18-75 online between 1st and 4th of May 2020.  Data are weighted to the profile of the population


The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research