Do more! Poll shows Britons behind action on infrastructure

Ahead of the Autumn Statement, a new global Infrastructure study that finds the majority of the public think that Britain is not currently doing enough to meet the country's infrastructure needs.

  • Majority of Britons think we are not doing enough to meet infrastructure needs and 44% would back Government borrowing to meet those needs
  • Of all G8 countries, new housing supply rated worst in Britain
  • New housing supply is among public’s top priorities in Britain, along with rail and flood defences

Ahead of the Autumn Statement, Ipsos MORI launch a new global Infrastructure study that finds the majority of the public think that Britain is not currently doing enough to meet the country’s infrastructure needs.  

Some 60% of Britons agree that we are not doing enough as a country to meet our infrastructure needs and 76% are of the view that investment in infrastructure is vital to future economic growth.

The survey also finds 44% backing for Government borrowing money to fund investment in better/more infrastructure, with 16% opposed and 40% unsure either way (including don’t knows). Support is substantially higher in in Britain than the global and G8 averages (34% and 31% respectively).

Twice as many are comfortable with the idea of foreign investment in new infrastructure as are not (42% against 20%) if it means that projects can be delivered more quickly. This makes Britons more comfortable with foreign investment than G8 countries as a whole (37%).

However, the British still want their voices to be heard, with 67% agreeing that delays to infrastructure projects are justified if it means that local communities’ views can be heard properly, a higher proportion than the 59% in G8 countries.  

Just under half, 48%, agree that Britain has a poor record at getting national infrastructure projects right (12% disagree), but only 29% are dissatisfied with the country’s infrastructure. Levels of satisfaction are very similar in Britain than European and G8 averages.

Priorities for investment are new housing supply (48% choose this from a list), flood defences (45%) and rail infrastructure (44%).

Housing supply and rail infrastructure are given higher priority in Britain relative to other G8 countries; positive ratings of new housing supply are lower in Britain than in 22 other countries surveyed. In Britain, 27% rate this as good/fairly good, compared to 60% in the U.S. and 59% in China (it is, though, 29% in Germany and 28% in Italy).

In terms of priorities, Northerners are more likely than the national average to rate their local road network as poor, and also to pick out rail infrastructure and flood defences as priorities for investment. Residents of the South East of England and London are a little more likely than those elsewhere to pick new housing supply.

By a clear margin, new housing supply is the top-ranked priority by millennials (those under 35 year olds) and, less clearly, among those aged 35-49. Flood defences are top among 50-64 year olds.

Flood defences and water supply and sewerage are given higher priority among lower income groups than higher income groups, while the opposite is true in respect of rail, roads and nuclear.

Global views

Globally, a third (31%) are satisfied with infrastructure in their country but, regionally, this varies from 28% in LATAM countries to 41% in the Middle East and Africa, reaching a high of 63% in Saudi Arabia, six times the low of 10% in Hungary. Among the ten different types of infrastructure, flood defences and nuclear energy-generation receive the worst ratings, while airports and motorways are among the best rated. The top global priority for investment is a tie between water supply and sewerage (a particular priority in BRIC and Middle East/Africa), and the local road network, both mentioned by 42%.

In terms of attitudes, while the global average is 56% agreement that their country “is not doing enough to meet its infrastructure needs”, this varies from 75% in South Africa to just 25% in Japan. Support for borrowing to invest in infrastructure similarly ranges from 69% in India to a low of % again in Japan.

On average, populations in G8 countries pick out fewer priorities for investment compared to other regions/groupings of the world but they are as likely as others to consider investing in infrastructure to be vital to economic growth.

Commenting on the findings, Ben Marshall, Research Director for Infrastructure at Ipsos MORI – said:

“This survey shows instinctive backing for the Government’s emerging approach to infrastructure; for example, more people back borrowing-to-build than don’t. Government action is likely to be most welcomed in terms of housing and rail but also flood defence and local roads. We also know, though, that support for infrastructure is very conditional; people want to be convinced that projects will lead to benefits.To help Britain build more and better, leaders needs to talk to the things that matter to citizens, customers and communities; and, of course, to deliver on the promises and potential.”

 Technical notes

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed 1,001 adults aged 16-65 across Britain, online, between 26 August – 9 September 2016. Data is weighted to the known population profile.  The global study involved the same survey being conducted via Ipsos Global @dvisor in 26 countries including Britain (samples sizes were either 500 or 1,000 in each country): Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States. Data is weighted to known population profiles.  

More insights about Travel, Tourism & Transport