back Back
back Back
back Back
About us

Britain Barometer August 2021

26 August 2021

Research finds Britons are divided on if climate change should be a priority


The Britain Barometer is our regular polling of public opinion in Britain.  We cover a range of topics including political views and voting intentions, the economy, government policies and emerging issues important to the British public.

Our research into British public opinion and voting intentions finds that people in Britain are divided on if tackling climate change should be priority post-COVID pandemic, a majority who approve of COVID-19 vaccines for teenagers, and two-thirds who are worried about futures waves of COVID infections after the summer.

Key findings from our research from 19th and 23rd August reveal that:

  • 40% (+1 vs July 2021) of people think that following the end of the COVID-19 outbreak, actions to address climate change should be more of a priority for governments than before.
  • 37% (-6) think that there should be no change in priority levels of climate change and 14% think it should be less of a priority (+5).
  • 75% approve/strongly approve that COVID-19 vaccinations are now available for 16- and 17-year-olds.
  •  62% strongly/tend to support that COVID-19 vaccinations being made available to 12 to 15-year-olds in the UK, whilst 20% oppose the idea.
  • Just under six in ten (59%, -1) think everyone should continue to wear face masks in shops and on public transport for a further period of time.
  • 43% say they think the government have handled the pandemic very/fairly well (-6) and 48% think very/fairly poorly (+3). This is the first time since February 2021 that more people are negative than positive about the government’s pandemic handling
  • 67% are very/fairly concerned that there will be further waves of COVID-19 infections after the summer; 28% are not very/ not at all concerned.

More detailed analysis on themes

1. What is the climate for climate change in Britain

This month’s research finds that “tackling climate change and protecting the environment” remains a polarising issue. When asked to rank 11 policy areas in order of priority:

  •  26% of the public put tackling climate change as one of their top three priorities for improving public life in the UK.
  • But 36% put it as one of their bottom three issues below policy areas such as healthcare, the economy, education, and unemployment.

When it comes to the cooperation between countries to tackle climate change, over half of Britons rate it as very or fairly poor (56%), whilst 22% say it is very/fairly good.

2. Attitudes towards COVID-19 and actions to tackle the pandemic 

A third of people (33%, -8) think the pace at which the government is adjusting the restrictions to everyday life is much/a bit too fast compared to almost two-fifths (38%, +5) who think it is ‘about right’.

When asked the government’s management of the pandemic and balance of public health and economy:

  • 48% (-5) say the government has been very/fairly good at communicating information about the COVID-19 outbreak, whilst 45% (+2) say the government has done very/fairly poorly in this.
  • 38% (-1) think the government are placing too much emphasis on protecting the country’s economy and not enough on protecting people’s health, compared to 20% (+2) who think there is too much emphasis on health. 25% think they have got the balance about right (-2).

 In response to questions about the COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Just under two thirds of people (64%, +2) strongly/tend to support the introduction of a vaccine passport to allow overseas travels into and out of the UK this summer, whilst 23% (no change) oppose the idea.
  • 35% (-3) rate the cooperation between countries to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as very/fairly good, compared to 42% (-5) who say fairly/ very poor. 23% say they ‘don’t know’ (+8).
  • Three quarters of people (72%, -4) say they are very/somewhat satisfied with the vaccine rollout organised by government and health authorities.
  • 44% (-7) think that vaccines should be compulsory for all adults, compared to 44% (+5) who think adults should be allowed to choose.
3. Household-level economic impacts 

This month’s research finds that 30% (-7) of Britons think the economy will be doing better in 12 months’ time. Other findings include:

  • 18% (-3) of those in work say their job feels safer than it was 12 months ago.
  • Of those working, 21% say their job feels less safe than 12 months ago (nc) which is the lowest figure since September 2019. 54% say much the same (+8).
  • 6 in 10 (61%, +1) now say that their personal income “has not been impacted” by coronavirus, compared to 56% in March, 54% in February and 49% in January.
  • Compared to last month, a smaller proportion of Britons say it is harder for them to meet their monthly household budget than it was 12 months ago: 24%, down from 28% in July.

When asked about the impact of the pandemic on personal savings, there is a mixed picture in Britain as just over a fifth of people (22%, -2) say their savings have decreased since the start of the pandemic whilst 41% (nc) say they have stayed the same, and 19% (-1) say their savings have increased.

Of the people who saved extra money, only 3% (-8) of them intend to spend it all by the end of the year. 60% (-3) who have saved extra money say that they will only spend “some of it” or “none at all” this year

4. Voting intentions
  • Con 37% (-7 vs July 2021)
  • Lab 34% (+3)
  • L Dem 14% (+2)
  • Green 5% (+1)
  • SNP 4% (-2)
  • Reform UK (formerly Brexit Party) 2% (+1)
  • UKIP 2% (+2)
  • Plaid Cymru 1% (nc)
  • Other <0.5% (-1)


5. Methodological information 

A total of 1,094 interviews were conducted online among adults living in Great Britain between the 19th and 23rd August 2021. All interviews were conducted online using the Kantar Research Express. The Kantar online access panel was the main sample source.

The data was weighted to match population totals for age, gender, 2019 General Election voting patterns, 2016 EU referendum voting patterns, education, region, and likelihood to vote in the next General Election. Any use of this research must cite Kantar as the source.

More Britain Barometers

This Britain Barometer was issued under our former global brand name: Kantar Public.  

Richard Crawshaw
Senior Research Scientist United Kingdom

Our latest insights

Subscribe to receive regular updates on our latest thinking and research across the public policy agenda.

Discover more about our data and insights.

Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nullt.