Ipsos Issues Index: February 2022

Public concern about inflation doubles to the highest level since the 2008 ‘Great Recession’

The author(s)
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight
  • Catriona Millar Ipsos Scotland
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  • One in five of the British public mention inflation and prices as an important issue for the country
  • Similarly, the biggest concern this month is the economy, cited by a quarter
  • Concern about COVID-19 almost halves to the lowest level recorded post-pandemic, although still in second place
  • Concerns about defence and foreign affairs also rise, while lack of faith in politics remains relatively high but less prominent than last month.

The February 2022 Ipsos Issues Index shows economic concerns are at the top of the British public’s mind after a sharp drop in worry about the pandemic.

The top issue this month is the economy, mentioned by 26% of the public. Not far behind is concern about inflation and prices: 22% say this is a big issue for the country, double the proportion who said the same last month. This 22% score is the highest level of worry about the issue since October 2008.

The level of concern about COVID-19 has fallen sharply, although it remains the second-biggest issue for Britons. This month 23% see it as an important issue, down 19 percentage points from the score in early January, and its lowest level since the pandemic began. Fieldwork took place before the announcement that all remaining restrictions would be lifted in England at the end of the month.

Seventeen per cent mention a lack of faith in politicians and politics as a big concern.  It remains the fifth biggest issue for the country and one of the highest scores we have recorded for it over the last five years, but has declined by eight points since January. 

Worry about Brexit/Europe has fallen to a new recent low: 13% see it as a big issue this month, down five points from January. This is the lowest level of concern about this issue recorded since December 2015.

Top ten issues for February 2022

Concern about defence and foreign affairs has risen back into the top ten issues on nine per cent: fieldwork was between 9 and 15 February, before Russia invaded Ukraine. Yet some groups stand out as being especially concerned about this issue: 

  • Conservative party supporters are significantly more likely to mention foreign affairs as a big issue for the country (22%) compared with Labour party supporters (4%)
  • Older age groups are also most concerned: 16% of the over 55s mention it as a worry, compared with 8% of 35-54 year olds and just 2% of 18-34s

Mike Clemence, a researcher at Ipsos MORI, said:

This month we’ve seen the British public swing away from seeing COVID-19 as the single biggest issue as it now shares top billing with economic and cost-of-living concerns

Concern about inflation has doubled since last month and with further price rises likely we can expect the public focus to stay on these issues for the coming months. 

Even though fieldwork was before Russia began its invasion of Ukraine we saw foreign affairs begin to creep up the agenda. Lack of faith in politics remains a worry, although not quite as prominent as last month.

Technical note

Ipsos' Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,006 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 9 and 15 February 2022 across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

The author(s)
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight
  • Catriona Millar Ipsos Scotland