Two in three Britons lack confidence in government’s long term economic plan

There is strong public concern at the state of the economy and a lack of confidence in the current government’s handling of it, according to a new Ipsos poll.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Ben Roff Public Affairs
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  • 8 in 10 think the state of the British economy is poor – 50% very poor
  • Just over half think Kwasi Kwarteng doing a bad job as Chancellor
  • Public increasingly hold government responsible for rising cost of living, alongside global factors

New polling by Ipsos in the UK, taken 28-29 September, shows strong public concern at the state of the economy and a lack of confidence in the current government’s handling of it.

Perceptions of the economy

  • 80% consider the state of the British economy to be poor. This compares to 77% last weekend, 72% in May this year, 69% in March and 59% in November 2021. The proportion that say ‘very poor’ is 50% today whereas it was 37% last weekend.
  • The top three factors that influence how the public judge the state of the economy are the level of inflation / price rises (68%), the strength of the pound (63%) and interest rates (57%). Whilst the importance of inflation and interest rates are similar to August (up 2 points respectively), the importance of sterling has jumped significantly in the public’s minds since then (+28 points).
  • The public do not think the government are solely responsible for the rising cost of living in Britain today. 77% think the Russian invasion of Ukraine is to blame for the rising cost of living a great deal or fair amount (+4 pts since March) and 74% blame the state of the global economy (-3 pts). However, the 72% that blame the economic policies of the Conservative government is up 9 points from March and is third on the list. Two in three blame businesses making excessive profits (66%, -1pt) and the Covid-19 pandemic (66%, -12pts).
  • Public concern about the rising cost of living remains high (88%), with 76% concerned about how they will pay energy bills, 68% concerned about the value of their savings and 65% concerned about rising interest rates. There is little change in the degree of concern seen in these areas since August.

Perceptions of the government’s economic response

  • Two-thirds (68%) of people are not confident that the Conservative government have a good long-term economic plan for Britain, while 25% of people say they are confident in the Government’s plans. Labour fares better, with 38% of people saying they are confident in Labour’s plans, compared to 52% that are not.
  • Just over half of people (53%) think Kwasi Kwarteng is doing a bad job as Chancellor (including 48% of 2019 Conservative voters), with just 16% of the public overall saying he is doing a good job. This is 13 percentage points lower than Rishi Sunak (29%) in April 2022. At that time, 44% thought Sunak was doing a bad job. This was his worst score but is 9 points less than Kwarteng now.

Chart: Kwarteng’s ratings are worse than those achieved by Sunak as Chancellor - 16% think he is doing a good job; 53% think he's doing a bad job

  • The reasons for Kwasi Kwarteng’s low ratings are likely to relate to recent economic announcements and the so-called ‘mini-budget’. 62% of Britons say Kwasi Kwarteng has changed Britain’s economy for the worse (20 points more than Rishi Sunak’s worst score in March 2022).  68% think his recent economic announcements would be good for those on high incomes (compared to 35% who said the same about Sunak’s spring statement) and 51% said they’d be good for big business (+20 points).  These are the only groups that half or more thought recent announcements would be good for. Meanwhile 57% thought Kwarteng’s recent announcements would be bad for those on low incomes (compared to 51% that said the same about Sunak’s spring statement).
  • Confidence in Kwarteng for the future appears in short supply, with just 15% saying they think he will change Britain’s economy for the better in future and 58% saying he will make it worse. In March, 20% thought Sunak would make things better and 37% worse, with the rest saying he’d make no difference or don’t know.

Chart: Three in five (62%) think Kwarteng has changed Britain’s economy for the worse - Sunak's worst rating was 42% (March 2022)

  • A quarter (25%) of people think the current government can provide strong and stable leadership, compared to 40% that are confident in Labour providing that stability. 67% are not confident in the Conservatives, while half (50%) doubt the abilities of Labour

Keiran Pedley, Director of Politics at Ipsos, said: 

These results make difficult reading for Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng. The public are increasingly concerned about the economy amidst the falling pound and they only see higher earners and big business benefitting from recent announcements. Meanwhile, although they recognise global factors are playing a part, they are inclined to increasingly hold the government responsible for the rising cost of living.
Given that Truss and Kwarteng’s personal poll ratings hardly compare favourably to their predecessors Johnson and Sunak, both will hope economic news improves so they can recover politically in the future.

Technical note

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,000 Britons aged 18-75 Interviews were conducted online from 28-29 September 2022 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
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Ben Roff Public Affairs

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