The NHS overtakes the economy and inflation as the most mentioned issue facing Britain

Ipsos Issues Index - January 2023

The author(s)
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight
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  • Forty-two per cent of Britons say the NHS is one of the biggest issues for Britain, an increase of fifteen percentage points since December
  • Worry about inflation and the economy falls gently, although over a third of Britons see each as a big concern and they are still seen as the biggest single issues
  • Immigration remains fourth at 15%, while lack of faith in politics drops to 11%

The January 2023 Ipsos Issues Index reveals that concerns about the health service have displaced economic matters as the most mentioned important issue facing the country.

Forty-two per cent of Britons say the NHS is a big issue for Britain, an increase of fifteen percentage points since last month and the highest score since February 2020, immediately before the COVID-19 pandemic. This month is also the first time the NHS has topped the Issues Index since the February 2020 edition.

Concern about the economy and inflation/prices has fallen, by three and six points respectively. However both remain significant concerns, with over a third of the British public mentioning both the economy (37%) and inflation (36%). They also remain considered as the biggest single issue, with one in five picking each out as the biggest concern for Britain, compared with 15% who say the same about the NHS.

Immigration remains the fourth-biggest issue for the country, at the same score recorded in December. Significant differences in concern between groups remain too: this month 29% of Conservative party supporters mention immigration as a big issue for the country, against just five per cent of Labour party supporters.

The proportion citing lack of faith in politicians and politics has fallen by seven points since December, with 11% mentioning this as an issue for the country this month. However it remains in the top five issues, tied with housing and pollution/climate change.

Nine per cent mention poverty and inequality as a big worry this month – while it is only a small decrease from the December score of 11%, this is the lowest level of concern recorded in almost a decade: the last time the headline level of worry was nine per cent was July 2013.  Eight percent each mention trade unions/strikes and Europe/Brexit.

What do you see as the most/other important issues facing Britain today?  NHS/Hospitals/Healthcare 42% (+15) Up 2 Economy 37% (-3) - Inflation/Prices 36% (-6) Down 2 Immigration/immigrants 15% (-) Up 1 Housing 11% (-) Up 2 Pollution/environment/climate change 11% (-3) Up 1 Lack of faith in politics/politicians/government 11% (-7) Down 1 Poverty/Inequality 9% (-2) Down 1 Petrol prices/fuel 9% (-2) Down 1 Education/schools 9% (-1) Up 2  Base: 1,012 British adults 18+, 11 – 17 January 2023

While the NHS and healthcare is now the leading issue for Britain there remain significant differences between demographic groups. Concern is higher among those aged over 55 (52%), social grades AB (51%), those living in the south of England (50%) and women (49%). It is significantly lower than average among 18-34 year olds (26%) and Londoners (25%).

There are no differences between supporters of the two main political parties however: 48% of those who feel closer to the Conservative and Labour parties both mention the NHS as a big issue for Britain.

Concern about the NHS by subgroup  Overall 42% Men 35% Women 49% Conservative 48% Labour 48% AB 51% C1 44% C2 38% DE 36%  Age  18-24 16% 25-34 32% 35-44 48% 45-54 41% 55-64 53% 65+ 51%  Base: 1,012 British adults 18+, 11 – 17 January 2023
Mike Clemence, a researcher at Ipsos, said:

The new year starts with a new concern at the top of Britons’ minds: the NHS is now the most mentioned important issue facing the country. But this means that there are three big issues in the country right now as the public also remain very worried about the national economy and inflation.
Outside these three concerns, immigration remains a big focus for a smaller part of the population, followed by housing, the environment and lack of faith in politicians.

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 1,012 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 11 and 17 January 2023 across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

The author(s)
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight

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