Economic concerns still dominate over worries about the EU, though concern about the EU is creeping up
The June Economist/Ipsos MORI Issues Index reinforces the dominance of the economy over other issues, with three fifths (58%) who mention it as amongst the most important issues facing Britain, with unemployment a clear second – up three points to 37%. This comes in a month in which our Political Monitor data has shown that optimism about the economy has fallen to its lowest point since January, with half (50%) of British adults thinking the economy will get worse in the next 12 months compared to just 18% who think it will improve.
By contrast, though much of the current media focus is on the continuing issues in the Eurozone, just 8% now place the Euro/EU amongst the most important issues facing the country, (though this is an increase from 4% in April). The EU/Euro is an issue of particular concern to Conservative voters (22%), those in social grade AB and those in the South East excluding London (12%), compared with those in London (6%), Labour voters (4%) and those in social grade DE (3%).
Though this issue has once again returned to the top ten, the relatively low level of concern might indicate that the public’s focus is on economic issues far closer to home rather than the long term implications of the crisis for Europe and the Euro. It does not necessarily mean that the public is not concerned by what is happening in the Eurozone (our polling in November showed that four fifths (80%) feel that the state of the European economy has at least a fair amount of influence over ours), rather than we are more immediately concerned about the effect it will have closer to home.
Just under two fifths (37%) mention unemployment, an issue that is much more likely to be of concern to Labour voters (49%) than those who voted for a coalition party (27%).
One in five (19%) mention race relations, an issue that concerned twice as many (38%) in the month that the Coalition came to power, but has steadily decreased in importance since then. Around one in seven mention the NHS (16%), inflation/prices (15%) and crime/law and order (14%). In the case of crime, this is, as was the case last month, the lowest level of concern since 9/11, and this issue is more likely to be mentioned by older residents, those in social grades DE, and Londoners than younger people, the middle classes, and those living in the Midlands and Wales.
Just one in nine (11%) are concerned about education/schools, the lowest level of concern in three years.
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 980 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 1st-14th June 2012 at 139 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.