The economy remains the most important issue facing Britain, though concern about fuel prices has doubled since last month
The March Economist/Ipsos MORI Issues Index shows that the economy remains the issue of most public concern; 54% see it as among the most important issues facing Britain. Though this is a decline of six percentage points since February, it retains a large lead over any other issue.
A quarter of the public are concerned about race/immigration and unemployment (26% and 25% respectively), two issues which, since July of last year, have jostled for second position in the list of issues that concern the public.
A fifth (19%) mention the NHS as an important issue facing Britain, and a similar percentage (18%) mention crime, though concern about crime is particularly low (along with last December’s figure, this is the lowest we have recorded since March 2003).
Concern about prices/inflation continues to rise, and the 18% that mention this issue is the highest percentage recorded since November 2008.
However, the most marked increase this month is with petrol prices/fuel. One in seven (15%) are concerned about this, an increase of seven percentage points since last month, and the highest since July 2008. Those who are most concerned include those in rural areas (20%), those in social grades DE (21%) and those in Scotland (27%).
This is supported by recent polling for the RAC which has shown that the cost of fuel has replaced the condition of the roads as the highest transport priority, and increased by 22 percentage points in a year. It will be interesting, by tracking this issue, to see whether the public feel that George Osborne’s scrapping of the planned 1p rise in fuel duty is sufficient or not, as the Libyan conflict pushes the cost of oil to record highs.
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 984 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 4th-10th March 2011 at 157 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.