Ipsos August 2012 Issues Index

Despite the public's captivation with London 2012, the economy and unemployment remains top of their agenda.

The Olympics have not dampened public concern about economic issues


The August Ipsos Issues Index, conducted during the Olympic Games shows that, despite the public’s captivation with London 2012, the economy and unemployment remains top of their agenda. Three fifths (61%) of the public mention the economy as one of the most important issues facing Britain today.

Other research has shown, at least in the short-term, an Olympics feelgood factor (such as our poll for British Future which showed that 86% believe that the Games have had a positive effect on the mood of the public), but this indicates that the public have not forgotten about Britain’s underlying economic troubles.

Aside from concern about the economy, a third of the public (35%) are concerned about unemployment, in particular those aged 18-34 (41%) when compared with those aged 65+ (28%).

A quarter (23%) are concerned about race/immigration, rising to 31% of those in the South East excluding London, but only 14% in the capital itself. Concern about the NHS has decreased by four percentage points to 18%, and one in seven (14%) are concerned about crime. Just as many (15%) are concerned with inflation/prices.

The chart below shows the level of concern about the economy alongside the GDP figures, and it clearly shows how concern about the economy has grown as GDP has faltered.

We have produced an infographic showing a timeline of the most important issues facing Britain since 1974, in which can be seen the extent of concern about the economy, which has been top of the Issues Index for 47 consecutive months since September 2008.

Concern about the economy is similar to other periods of ‘consensus’ in the past, such as around concern about inflation/prices during much of the 1970s, unemployment for most of the 1980s, and the NHS for much of Tony Blair’s time in office.

However, there have also been periods where there was less consistent concern about a single issue above any other, such as between 1988 and 1991 when certain issues, such as the ozone layer and the Poll tax, briefly topped the list of public concerns. The latter years of the last Labour administration saw crime, race/immigration, defence, and the NHS jostling for position at the top of the list of concerns.


Technical note

Ipsos MORI's Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos interviewed a representative quota sample of 992 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 3rd - 9th August  2012 at 154 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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