As the Bank of England welcomes the appointment of a new governor, concern about the economy shows no sign of abating, with the well off especially concerned.
The Economist/Ipsos MORI November issues index shows that the economy remains the most important issue facing Britain – mentioned by over half (55%) of the public; an increase of 3% since October. This comes as the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) announces that the “era of austerity” could run until 2018.
Those who are most concerned about this issue tend to be the more ‘affluent’, including 65% of broadsheet newspapers, 66% of those earning more than £25,000 and 68% of Conservative voters. The less well off are less likely to cite this issue, including 43% of C2DEs, 46% of those aged 18-24, and 48% of those not working.
In fact the less well off, and Labour supporters, are more likely to be concerned about the second most important issue, namely unemployment, mentioned by a third (33%) overall. This rises to 39% of Labour supporters and 42% of 18-34 C2DEs, and in the case of the latter it is the most important issue facing Britain.
A fifth (20%) of the public are concerned about the NHS, an issue that is now the third most important facing Britain, though it has hovered around this level of concern for the last three years. Those most concerned are the more affluent middle aged; 28% of ABC1s aged 35-54 mention this issue compared with C2DEs aged 18-34 (13%) and aged 55+ (14%).
A similar percentage (19%) are concerned about race relations/immigration, an issue that has declined in importance since the month the coalition came to power, when it was mentioned by twice as many (38%). Slightly fewer mention crime/law and order (17%).
Around one in six (16%) also mention inflation/prices, and this rises to 27% of C2DEs aged 35-54. Indeed, with 71% of ABC1s aged 35-54 concerned about the economy (compared with the mean of 55%), this age group may well represent the squeezed middle, who are affected in different ways depending on their social grade.
One in seven (14%) mention education, an issue that has risen by four percentage points since last month, but is still much lower than its peak of 49% after Tony Blair’s 1997 election victory.
Ipsos 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 969 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-18th Nov 2012 at 139 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.