Economy is overwhelmingly seen as one of the main issues facing Britain, and concern about unemployment is growing
Reflecting ongoing economic difficulties in Britain, which have recently resulted in a second Government `banks bailout', Ipsos MORI's latest Issues Index shows that the economy remains at the top of the list of the most important issues facing Britain. In fact, for the fourth consecutive month, we have recorded our highest-ever rating for this issue, with seven in ten (70%) of the public saying it is one of the most important issues facing Britain, an increase of four points from last month. Over half (52%) of people now name the economy as the single most important issue facing Britain (an increase of three points from last month).
Not since February 2002, when the NHS was at the top of the list, has one issue so dominated public concern.
A quarter (24%) of Britons see unemployment as one of the main issues facing Britain today, an increase of nine percentage points since December. This level of concern about unemployment in Britain has not been seen for almost ten years (since August 1999). After several months of bad news on the economy, the British public are now increasingly likely to fear the impact economic troubles are having on jobs. Unemployment is now the third highest issue, although crime/law and order remains second, at 34%, a decrease of one point since last month.
Some issues relating to the economy have actually decreased since last month. The proportion of people naming inflation/prices as an issue is now 13%. This is a decrease of four points since December. Only three per cent see pensions/social security as among the top issues facing Britain today, which is the lowest score we have ever recorded for this issue. Indeed, many issues appear to be `prioritised down' by the British public as concerns about the economy grow. Fewer are now concerned about NHS, education, foreign affairs/defence and race relations than was the case in 2007 and the first half of 2008.
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 1,016 adults aged 18+ at 203 sampling points across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted face-to-face on 22nd - 28th January 2009. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.