- Fifty-four per cent of Britons see prices and inflation as a big issue for the country, an increase of nine percentage points since last month
- Almost four in ten see prices as the single biggest issue for the country
- The level of public concern about the environment, the NHS and petrol prices also rises significantly compared with July
Fifty-four per cent say prices and inflation is one of the biggest issues for the country, and almost four in ten (37%) say this is the single most important national concern. This represents another new highest level of concern for this issue since the Issues Index became a regular monthly tracking survey in the early eighties (in April 1980 69% mentioned inflation as a big issue for Britain; in the next data point in September 1982, 32% said the same). By contrast, a year ago just one in fifty people saw prices and inflation as a big issue for the country (2%).
Over a third of the public highlight the economy as an important issue for Britain, making it the second-biggest issue: 36% see this as a concern, at a similar level to last month and eleven points higher than at the start of the year.
There has been a surge in concern about the environment, pollution and climate change this month: 23% mention this as a big issue for the country, up ten points since July and the highest post-COP score for this issue. It is likely that news coverage of the recent heatwave and water shortages has driven this peak, as a number of UK regions were declared to be in drought during fieldwork (which ran from 10 – 16 August).
One in five mention the NHS as an important issue for Britain (20%), up five percentage points since July. This makes it the fourth-biggest issue for Britons this month.
Finally, petrol and fuel prices are seen as the fifth-biggest issue this month, with 17% mentioning it as an important issue for the country – an increase of six percentage points since July. This is the highest level of concern about this issue since November 2000, at the tail-end of fuel protests which led to nationwide shortages earlier in the year.
Inflation is the most important issue for people across nearly all demographic groups: for instance, the lowest level of concern for any age group is 47% among the over 65s, yet inflation remains the biggest concern for this cohort.
Comparing public concern about inflation and prices against the rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Prices Index, shows how quickly the public respond to price inflation (see chart below). Previous spikes in the CPI annual rate result in jumps in the proportion of the public who see inflation as an important issue for Britain, while the issue drops out of the public mind when the inflation rate is close to or below its 2% target.
The rapid increase in inflation during 2022 (in January 2022 just 11% mentioned it as a concern) has been met with a similarly sharp increase in public concern, and it is worth nothing that this month’s 54% score was recorded before the announcement that the UK consumer prices inflation rate had breached the 10% mark in July.
Mike Clemence, a researcher at Ipsos, said:
Public concern about inflation continues to rise: over half of the public now consider prices and inflation to be an important national issue, and almost four in ten see it as the single most important concern for Britain. This is the highest score we’ve recorded since the early eighties.
Moreover, the public’s wider concerns are dominated by economic worries, with three of the top five national issues touching on affordability and the performance of the economy. With further increases in inflation likely we can expect these issues to dominate public concern as we head towards winter
Ipsos' Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 989 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The answers are spontaneous responses, and participants are not prompted with any answers.
Ipsos’ telephone omnibus was used for this survey. Interviews were conducted between 10 and 16 August 2022 across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.