Ipsos MORI Issues Index: February 2021

Coronavirus continues to dominate public concerns

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Public Affairs
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  • Seventy two percent of the public are worried about Covid-19, in line with previous months
  • Issues around Brexit and the economy are tied as second-biggest issue, with a third of the public mentioning each as a worry
  • Five per cent cite issues around mental health and well-being, a new category introduced from this wave of the survey

The February 2021 Ipsos MORI Issues Index shows that Covid-19 remains the top concern among Britons. Around three-quarters (72%) cited the pandemic as one of their biggest worries – the same level of concern that has been recorded monthly since June 2020.

Concern about the economy and Brexit are jointly the second-biggest issues on 35% and 33% respectively. Economic concern has been at the same level since mid-2020, while the proportion of those mentioning Brexit as a concern remains sharply down on the December 2020 score of 60%.

The proportion of the public mentioning concerns about pollution, climate change and the environment stands at 14% this month. Although this represents a doubling in concern since June 2020 (7%), the proportion of the public who see this as an issue remains half that observed in the final pre-pandemic wave of the Index (25% in February 2020).

Top ten for February 2021Three new codes have been introduced to the Issues Index this month, based on feedback from fieldwork in 2020:

  • Concern about mental health and personal well-being was mentioned by many participants during 2020. It debuts this month as the tenth-biggest concern for the country, on five per cent - although concern among 35-54 year olds is double that level (9%).
  • International trade and the UK securing trade deals have also featured strongly; this code scores three per cent this month
  • Food production and farming issues have also been mentioned over the year; a new code for this concerns scored less than half of one per cent 


Mike Clemence, a researcher at Ipsos MORI, said:

February 2021 saw a continuation of long-running trends in public opinion. Despite advances with vaccinations, public concern is at a level similar to that recorded in June of last year. The economy and Brexit are the other chief concerns for Britons.

We have added new codes to the survey this month to reflect new answers members of the public are giving our interviewers. Most notable is mental health, which was mentioned by five per cent as a big issue for the country


Technical note 

Since May 2020 the Issues Index has been conducted over the phone; lockdown conditions mean face-to-face fieldwork is currently not an option for public opinion polling. Mode effects should be kept in mind when comparing the new data points with previous months.
Ipsos MORI's Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,005 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The answers are spontaneous responses, and participants are not prompted with any answers. 
Ipsos MORI's telephone omnibus was used for this survey. Interviews were conducted between 12 and 17 February 2021 across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.
 

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Public Affairs