The December Issues Index shows that concern about the combined issue of defence, terrorism and foreign affairs has increased by 29 percentage points since November, and is now the most important issue concerning the public, mentioned by two fifths (42%).
This marks the highest level of concern about this issue in over 10 years, since September 2005, in the wake of the London bombings. It is the first time it has been the paramount issue since November 2006.
Concern about defence/foreign affairs/terrorism is acutely influenced by single incidents – this is the sharpest increase in concern about this (indeed, any) issue since the London bombings, when it rose by 42 percentage points.
Looking at different sections of the population, concern about this issue rises to 46% of women, compared with 37% of men, and to 53% of those aged 55-64 and those in social grade AB compared with just 30% of those aged 18-34 and 35% of those in social grade DE. There is also appreciably higher concern in the north of England (51%) compared with just 28% in London.
With a slender deficit of just two percentage points, 40% of the public are concerned about immigration, an issue that had been the most important issue facing Britain for much of 2015, but has this month fallen by nine percentage points. A third (34%) are concerned about the NHS, which is unchanged from last month, and a quarter (26%) are concerned about the economy. Just 14% are concerned about unemployment, the lowest percentage since September 2008, following the recent news that unemployment has reached a 10 year low.
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 1,003 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 27th November – 10th December in 171 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.