Economist/Ipsos January 2015 Issues Index

For the first time since April 2006, the NHS is the most important issue facing Britain - mentioned by 45% of the public

Economist/ Ipsos January 2015 Issues index – the NHS replaces immigration as the most important issue facing Britain

The first Economist/Ipsos Issues Index of 2015 shows that concern about the NHS has increased by 12 percentage points since December of last year, and it is now seen as the most important issue facing Britain – mentioned by almost half (45%) of the public. This is the highest level of concern since April 2006, following an increased political emphasis being placed on healthcare in the runup to the 2015 election, and reports of a winter A&E ‘crisis’.

Looking at different population subgroups, it is clear that older people, and the more affluent are more likely to be concerned about the NHS. Concern rises from a third (35%) of DEs to nearly six in ten (57%) of ABs. Similarly, 35% of those aged 18-34 are concerned compared with three fifths (59%) of those aged 55-64. Over half (54%) of Conservative voters are concerned, a sharp increase of 22 percentage points since December.

Though concern about NHS has increased sharply, and is high, it is worth remembering that historically concern has been much higher in the past – indeed, it peaked at 72% in February 2002. For much of Tony Blair’s tenure in Downing Street it was the most important issue facing Britain, and it will be interesting to see if levels of concern are maintained throughout the year.


A third (34%) mention immigration, the issue which was of most concern to the public between June to December last year, and concern has fallen by 8 percentage points. However, for some, including 18-34 year old C2DEs, it remains the most important issue facing Britain. A similar percentage (33%) mention the economy, and a fifth (22%) mention unemployment, though levels of concern about these issues are unchanged since December.

Elsewhere, just 5% are concerned about inflation/prices, the lowest level of concern in eight years.

Technical note

Ipsos's Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos interviewed a representative quota sample of 966 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The questions are spontaneous - i.e. respondents are not prompted with any answers.  Ipsos's Capibus vehicle was used for this survey. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in-home between 23rd January - 2nd February in 159 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. 

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