Three in four think Britain is becoming a worse place to live

Latest polling shows that the public think Britain is becoming a worse place to live.

The author(s)
  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Ben Roff Public Affairs
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  • Public hold negative views of the government’s performance in key areas – satisfaction with Rishi Sunak at lowest levels since he took office.
  • Doubts about Labour persist but party holds strong lead in voter preferences

The latest Ipsos Political Monitor, taken 19th to 23rd July, 2023 explored public attitudes towards life in Britain and the government’s record on key issues, alongside our latest voting intention and leader satisfaction ratings. The results found widespread dissatisfaction with life in Britain and how the government is running the country. In this context, Labour retain a wide poll lead (falling slightly from last month), despite doubts about whether they would do a better job in office and whether Keir Starmer is ready to be Prime Minister.

Life in Britain

  • 76% think Britain is becoming a worse place to live. Just 6% say better. This compares to 49% that said things were getting worse in June 2010 and 71% in May 2008 around the time of the financial crash.

Government scorecard

  • Aside from responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, clear majorities think Rishi Sunak’s government has done a bad job across a range of policy area

Chart showing Sunak government performance on key issues.

  • Just over 8 in 10 (82%) say his government has done a bad job improving the NHS, 77% on managing immigration and 75% on dealing with the cost of living. This matters a great deal as these are 3 of the 4 key priority areas for the public according to the latest Ipsos Issues Index.
  • On the other most important issue – the economy in general – 69% think Sunak’s Conservative government has done a bad job and just 24% say good job. The worst scores for the Conservatives since taking office in 2010.

Historic trends on government performance on managing the economy

  • Elsewhere in the poll there is some positive news for Rishi Sunak in that economic optimism has shown a slight uptick. Whilst 55% think the economy will worsen in the next year, 28% expect it to improve (the highest level since January 2022).
  • And yet for Sunak’s government itself, 79% are dissatisfied with the job it is doing overall and just 14% are satisfied. 

Leader satisfaction ratings

  • Amidst the public gloom, dissatisfaction with Sunak as Prime Minister is at its highest level since he took office. 63% are dissatisfied with the job he is doing (+4 pts from June) and 26% are satisfied (-2pts). 

  • Dissatisfaction with Keir Starmer has increased too. 53% are dissatisfied with the job he is doing as Labour leader (+4 pts ) and 31% are satisfied (unchanged). However, his net score of -22 is superior to Sunak’s -37.

  • When asked who would make the most capable Prime Minister, Starmer leads Sunak by 5 points (36% to 31%). This is the first time Starmer has been ahead in our series since January 2023.

Perceptions of Labour

  • 43% think Labour are ready for government and 37% disagree. Numbers are largely unchanged in 2023 but worse than December 2022 when 47% said Labour was ready and 31% disagreed.
  • Similarly, 39% think Keir Starmer is ready to be Prime Minister and 37% disagree. Numbers have not changed much this year. For example, in January 36% said Starmer was ready and 37% disagreed.

When asked if Labour would do a better job than the Conservative government on the issues: 

  • The public are most likely to think Labour would do a better job on improving the NHS. 47% said Labour would do better job, 34% said they would do the same and 13% said they would do worse.
  • The public are more likely to think Labour would do a better job than the Conservatives at dealing with the cost of living (36%) than do a worse job (21%), though 38% said they would do about the same.
  • On the economy generally, the public are split. 30% think Labour would do better, 30% worse and 33% about the same.

How public thinks Labour would perform on the key issues

Time for a change?

  • 65% of the public think the next General Election is time for change. This is split between the 56% that think the Conservatives have done a poor job and it is time for change and 9% that think it is time for change despite them having done a good job. Numbers are unchanged throughout the year. 

This is reflected in voting intention figures, Labour’s lead has fallen slightly but they still hold a commanding 17 point lead over the Conservatives.

  • Labour 45% (-2 pts from June)
  • Conservative 28% (+3)
  • Lib Dems 12% (-1)
  • Green 6% (-2)
  • Other 9% (+1)

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos, said:

As parliament goes into its summer break the public are marking the scorecard for the first 9 months of Rishi Sunak’s government harshly.  On some of Britain’s most important issues – the economy, cost of living, the NHS, and immigration, seven in ten or more think the Conservatives are doing a bad job, all feeding into a general mood of dissatisfaction with the state of the country – despite slightly improving economic optimism.  This is also weakening Rishi Sunak’s personal ratings, as he slips behind Keir Starmer as the public’s most capable PM.  
Labour meanwhile has clear strengths to play on when it comes to public services like the NHS and the cost of living, but doubts still remain, including on overall perceptions of economic competence.  But at the moment this is being outweighed by unhappiness with the Conservatives’ performance, with a persistent two in three who say it’s time for a change.

Technical note

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,065 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone between the 19th  to  23rd July 2023. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.   


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

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