Worry about Brexit and the EU rises once more, while concern about poverty and inequality reaches record levels

Public concern about Brexit rises further, while worries about crime and poverty displace the economy and immigration from the top five - Ipsos MORI Issues Index December 2018.

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  • Michael Clemence Public Affairs
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  • Sixty-seven per cent of Britons see the EU and Brexit as one of the biggest issues for Britain, 21 percentage points higher than in January 2018
  • Poverty/inequality is the third biggest concern for the country; 21% see it as an issue, the highest score since 1997
  • At 16%, concern about immigration remains at the lowest level recorded since 2002

The December 2018 Issues Index charts the continued increase in the proportion of Britons who name Brexit as one of the biggest issues facing the country. Two thirds of the public name it as important (67%), an increase of five percentage points since November and a jump of 21 percentage points over the year. This is the highest score for any single issue since November 2011 – back then 68% said the economy was a major concern.

The proportion who see the NHS as a big issue for the country has risen by four percentage points since last month too; 42% mention concerns related to the health service.

Concern about poverty and inequality has also risen to match its highest level in 21 years. Twenty-one per cent of the public name it as a big issue, which is the highest score recorded since this issue was first included in December 1997. In recent years concern about this issue has peaked at this time of the year: 19% mentioned it during December 2017, while 20% was recorded in December 2016.

Neither the economy nor immigration feature in this month’s five biggest issues: the former stands at 17% while the latter remains at its lowest level since April 2002 (16%). Instead, crime and housing round out the top five, on a similar level of concern to poverty/inequality (20% and 19% respectively). 

Public concern about unemployment has now fallen to pre-crash levels: just seven per cent name joblessness as a big issue for the country. This is the lowest recorded score since August 2008 and just two percentage points above the all-time lowest level of five per cent, which was registered in August 2006.
Ipsos MORI Issues Index - Dec 2018 top tenPoverty and inequality is more likely to be mentioned as a big issue by those in social grades AB (26%) and C1 (25%), Labour party supporters (29%) and readers of broadsheet newspapers (36%). Those in part-time employment are also more likely than average to name this as a concern (29%).

Ipsos MORI Issues Index - Concern about poverty


Technical note 

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 971 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The answers are spontaneous responses, and participants 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 7 and 20 December 2018 at 182 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Public Affairs