The May Economist/Ipsos MORI issues index shows that, with little change since last month, the economy remains the most important issue facing Britain, as it has been since September 2008. It retains a small two point lead over the issue in second place, race relations/immigration. Unemployment is in third place, mentioned by 32% of the public, and followed by the NHS, mentioned by 27%. These have been the top four issues facing Britain for 17 consecutive months.
We have recently published data from our Political Monitor showing that economic optimism is at its highest ever – over half (53%) think that the general economic condition of the country will improve over the next year, and a fifth (18%) think it will get worse. This gives an economic optimism index of +34, with optimism more pronounced amongst those in the private sector (+45), ABC1s (46%), men (49%) and Conservative voters (70%).
However, those who are more likely to be pessimistic about the economy include those who are more concerned about their 'personal economy' (those who mention either prices/inflation, petrol prices, poverty/inequality or low pay). This includes private renters and Labour voters (43% and 41% respectively compared with 33% overall).
The chart below shows how concern about the economy and economic optimism have fared since the start of the previous Labour Government – though both are higher than before the recession, the relative fall in the importance given to the economy since 2012 seems to broadly mirror the increase in optimism in the same period.
Technical noteIpsos MORI's Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 998 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The questions are spontaneous - i.e. respondents are not prompted with any answers. Ipsos MORI's Capibus vehicle was used for this survey. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in-home between 2nd-12th May in 193 sampling points across Great Britain.
The facts may have changed on Brexit - but people’s minds have not
Reflecting the national vote in the 2016 referendum, voters in Bedford split almost the same way, with 51.8% voting to leave the EU. Two years on, we joined the BBC Radio 4 Today programme to ask local Bedford residents what they have to say on the matter now.