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Majority of voters still do not know what the 'Big Society' means

Published:5 October 2010
Fieldwork:10 - 12 September 2010
Theme:Society
Source:Ipsos MORI / RSA
Keywords:Big Society, Coalition, Conservative Party, Lib Dems, Local Area, society
(Click on keywords to find related Research)

Fifty-five per cent of people have not heard of the government's Big Society policy, according to  an Ipsos MORI survey commissioned by the RSA..

A recent Ipsos MORI poll of 512 adults shows that 64% of people believe that in recent years public services have tried to do to much and people should take more responsibility for their own lives.

But equally, 54% of people think that the big society is a good idea in principle but won’t work in practice, and as many as 57% also think it’s just an excuse for the government to save money by cutting back on public services.

The survey and analysis commissioned in advance of the RSA’s Conservative Party Conference Event Hidden Wealth, Finding the Big Society in a Deprived Community, found that the public is still confused as to what the policy means in practise.

They also have no clear view on the role of the state – they believe ‘people’ should get more involved – though almost as many think it is up to the government the Government is responsible for public services too.

The survey also found that the concept of the Big Society was polarising politically.

On balance, the policy made Conservative party voters view their party more positively (34% more positive compared with 4% more negative); in contrast Labour party supporters viewed the Conservatives more negatively as a result (37% more negative compared with 5% more positve); and Lib Democrats voters are split over it(28% more positive, 22% more negative).

Technical Note

Data is drawn from three Ipsos MORI surveys:

  • a. 1,002 British adults 16+, telephone survey, weighted to national profile. Fieldwork dates: 13th – 19th May 2010 (view);
  • b. 1,009 British adults 18+, telephone survey, weighted to national profile. Fieldwork dates: 23rd – 25th July 2010 (view); and
  • c. 1,004 British adults 18+, telephone survey, weighted to national profile. Fieldwork dates: 10th-12th September 2010 (this survey) 

Where percentages do not sum to 100, this may be due to computer rounding, the exclusion of “don’t know” categories, or multiple answers. An asterisk (*) denotes any value of less than half a per cent. Voting intention figures exclude those who say they would not vote, are undecided or refuse to name a party and in the headline figures, those who are not absolutely certain to vote. Data are based on all adults unless otherwise stated.

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