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Britain Barometer October 2021

21 October 2021

Two in five Britons report that their household income has fallen behind the cost of living

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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.

Findings from Kantar Public’s research which took place between 14th and 18th October reveal that the British public is concerned about inflation:

  • Two in five Britons (43%) report that their household income has fallen behind the cost of living over the last few months, while only half (48%) think their household income has kept up with the cost of living. 9% report their income has gone up by more than the cost of living.
  • Seven in ten Britons (71%) are very/fairly concerned that the price of fresh food will increase over the next few months.
  • Similarly, almost seven in ten Britons (68%) are very/fairly concerned that the price of petrol or diesel will rise over the next few months.
  • Six in ten Britons (60%) are very/fairly concerned about potential shortages of fresh food over the next few months. 36% are not very/not at all concerned.
  • 62% (+9 vs September 2021) of Britons are very/fairly concerned about not being able to afford to keep their home warm enough this winter; 32% (-8) are not very/not at all concerned.
  • Over half (55%) are very/fairly concerned that the cost of housing (mortgage and rent payments) will increase over the next few months.

More detailed analysis on themes

1. Food, Petrol and medicine shortages

Britons have noticed shortages of some products:

  • 36% of Britons report finding it much more/slightly more difficult to find petrol or diesel, compared to three months ago, while 40% have found it about the same.
  • Three in ten (29%) have found it much more difficult / slightly more difficult to get hold of fresh food than three months ago.

 Thinking about the coming months, Britons are very/fairly concerned about potential shortages of fresh food, petrol and diesel and medicine:

  • 60% of Britons are very/fairly concerned about shortages of fresh food over the next few months. 36% are not very/not at all concerned.
  • Over half of Britons (54%) are very/fairly concerned about shortages of petrol or diesel over the next few months. 40% are not very/not at all concerned.
  • Half of Britons (52%) are very/fairly concerned about there being shortages of medicine over the next few months. 41% are not very/not at all concerned.
2. Household-level economic situation 

When asked about their personal situation, people are more pessimistic than a month ago:

  • Four in ten Britons (39%) report that they are now finding it harder to meet their monthly household budget than a year ago. This is an increase of 9 percentage points compared with last month. 49% are finding it about the same (-11) and 11% are finding it easier (+2).
  • Four in ten (43%) report that their household income has fallen behind the cost of living over the last few months. Nearly half (48%) think their household income has kept up with the cost of living, and 9% think their income has gone up by more than the cost of living.
  • Thinking about the year ahead, four in ten (43%) think their household income will fall behind the cost of living. 47% think their household income will keep up with the cost of living, and 10% think it will go up by more than the cost of living.
  • 62% (+9) of Britons are very/fairly concerned about not being able to afford to keep their home warm enough this winter; 32% (-8) are not very/not at all concerned.
  • 23% (+2) of people say they are behind with some or all of their household bills; 70% (-2) are up to date with their bills.
  • Of those people in employment, 23% say their job feels less safe than 12 months ago (+2).
3. Future of the UK economy 

This month’s research also finds that Britons remain relatively pessimistic about the future of the economy, and uncertain about which political party would be best placed to manage the UK economy:

  • 30% (+2) of Britons now think the economy will be doing worse in twelve months’ time; 44% think much the same (-4) and 27% (+3) of Britons think the economy will be doing better in twelve months’ time.

When asked which political party would best manage the UK economy:

  • 44% of Britons did not know which political party would best manage the economy.
  • 23% of Britons thought the Conservative party would best manage the economy.
  • 18% thought the Labour party would best manage the economy.
4. Attitudes towards COVID-19 and actions to tackle the pandemic

There has been a decrease in how the public rate the government’s handling of the pandemic:

  • 42% think the government have handled the pandemic very/fairly well (-5) and 51% think very/fairly poorly (+6).
  • 46% of Britons rate the government support for people who have lost income as fairly/very poor (+5). 40% rate this a very/fairly good (-2).
  • 56% of Britons rate the government support for companies that face closure and revenue loss as very/fairly poor (+8). 30% rate this a very/fairly good (-1).
  • 70% (-1) are very/fairly concerned that there will be further waves of COVID-19 infections through the autumn and winter; 24% (+1) are not very/not at all concerned.
  • 44% (-6) say the government has been very/fairly good at communicating information about the COVID-19 outbreak, whilst 50% (+5) say the government has done very/fairly poorly in this.
  • 45% (-2) think that vaccines should be compulsory for all adults. 45% (+4) think that adults should be allowed to choose.
  • Three quarters of people (76%, +2) say they are very/somewhat satisfied with the vaccine rollout organised by the government and health authorities.

5. The climate for climate change 

As we approach COP26, over half of the British public is critical of the global cooperation:

  • 54% (+1) of Britons rate global cooperation between countries to tackle climate change as very poor/poor, while only 29% (+3) would rate it as very good /good.
  • 44% (+5) 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.

6. Voting Intentions

  • Con 39% (-4 vs September 2021)
  • Lab 34% (+4)
  • L Dem 8% (-3)
  • Green 8% (+2)
  • SNP 5% (+1)
  • Reform UK (formerly Brexit Party) 2% (-1)
  • UKIP 1% (nc)
  • Plaid Cymru 1% (nc)
  • Other 1% (nc)

 

Methodological information

A total of 1,075 interviews were conducted online among adults living in Great Britain between the 14th and 18th October 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 Public as the source.

Previous UK polling

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

Richard Crawshaw
Senior Research Scientist United Kingdom

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