Three in four Britons think Johnson’s government has done a bad job dealing with the cost of living

The July 2022 Ipsos Political Monitor shows the public think his government's done a bad job on immigration and on the NHS.

The author(s)
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Ben Roff Public Affairs
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  • Seven in ten say the government has done a bad job improving the NHS and managing immigration
  • Seven in ten expect the economy to get worse over the next twelve months

The latest Ipsos Political Monitor, taken July 21st to 27th, shows that whilst the public think Boris Johnson’s government has done a good job handling the Covid vaccine rollout, dealing with the pandemic generally and responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, clear majorities think his government has done a bad job in a host of other areas.

Record of the Johnson government

  • 80% think Johnson’s government did a good job ensuring the public are vaccinated against Covid-19. A majority (54%) think his government did a good job dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic (42% say bad). Meanwhile, 57% say Johnson’s government has done a good job responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 28% say bad job.

  • However, clear majorities of 6 in 10 or more think Johnson’s government has done a bad job dealing with the cost of living (75%), managing immigration (71%), improving the NHS (70%), handling tax and public expenditure (66%), managing the economy (63%), reducing regional inequalities / levelling-up (61%) and handling Britain’s relationship with the EU (61%).
  • The government’s scores for doing a ‘good job’ at managing the economy (27%) and handling taxation / public expenditure (22%) are the worst Ipsos have recorded since we began tracking these numbers in 1998, and both metrics have got worse since December.
  • Current Conservative supporters are most likely to think the government has done a bad job on immigration (64%). This is the only issue where more than half of current Conservative voters think the government has done a bad job (although almost half – 48% in each case - are critical on the NHS and cost of living).
  • Labour supporters tend to think the current government has done a bad job across most issues, especially dealing with the cost of living (92%) and improving the NHS (89%). However, they do give some credit to the government for doing a good job on Ukraine (50%) and Covid-19 vaccinations (81%).

Meanwhile, looking ahead to challenges facing the next Government, 69% expect the economy to worsen in the next 12 months (-8 pts from June) and just 16% expect it to improve (+3 pts). This still gives a negative Ipsos Economic Optimism Index of -53, which is worse than all of 2021.

Attitudes to public spending and tax

Elsewhere in the poll, the public were asked about attitudes towards tax and public spending where they are still more than twice as likely to think public spending should be increased rather than cut back, although the gap has narrowed from recent years:

  • 45% think the government should ‘increase spending on public services, even if that means higher taxes or more government borrowing’.
  • 20% think the government should ‘reduce spending on public services, to allow for tax cuts or less government borrowing’.
  • 28% think the government should keep spending on public services at the current level.
  • Attitudes to public spending have shifted in recent years. For example, in October 2019 just before the last General Election, 56% thought that spending should be increased (11 pts higher than today) and 10% thought it should be reduced (10 pts lower).
  • When asked what they think the government under Boris Johnson’s successor will do, 24% think it will increase spending, 25% that it will keep spending at the current level, and 37% that it will reduce spending. Again, expectations that the government under a new PM will reduce spending have risen slightly from previous years.

Keiran Pedley, Director of Politics at Ipsos, UK, says of the findings:

When we look back at Boris Johnson’s legacy, the public do credit his government with notable successes, such as dealing with the Covid vaccine rollout or responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, with large numbers unhappy at how the current government is managing issues such as the cost of living, the NHS, immigration and levelling-up, it is clear that the new Prime Minister will face immediate real-world delivery challenges from the day they enter office.

Technical note

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,052 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone: 21st to 27th July 2022. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a party’s support lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by this poll, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points. This is especially important to keep in mind when calculating party lead figures.

The author(s)
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Ben Roff Public Affairs

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