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Britain Barometer September 2023

07 September 2023

While Britons continue to struggle with the rising cost of living, there are some signs of improvement.

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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.

7 September 2023, London- Kantar Public's latest barometer reveals that:

  • While just under half of Britons said they are finding it harder to meet their monthly household budget. This figure continues to fall from the start of the year and is lowest recorded figure since January 2022.

  • Over half of Britons think the economy is doing worse than it was a year ago, however, this figure has fallen from 66% in February 2023.

  • Half of Britons think that the governments’ measures to reduce illegal immigration do not go far enough.

  • More than 3 in 5 Britons are not confident that the UK will be able to achieve a Net Zero economy by 2050.

  • Despite this, a majority of Britons think the government should prioritise reducing the cost of living, even if it means delaying actions to reduce climate change.

Kantar Public’s research took place between the 31 August and 4 September 2023 with the majority of fieldwork conducted before the announcement of school closures on Friday 1 September.

More detailed analysis on themes

1. The cost of living

Britons continue to think the economy will stagnate. Although there are some signs of improvement compared with earlier in the year.

  • Just under half of Britons (48%) said they are finding it harder to meet their monthly household budget compared to a year ago (-11% vs May 2023). This figure is the lowest recorded figure since January 2022, when 44% said they were finding it harder. 39% are finding it about the same (+7). 12% are finding it easier (+3).

  • Over half of Britons (52%) think the economy is doing worse than it was a year ago. This figure continues to fall from 58% in May 20233 and 66% in February 2023. 36% think it is doing much the same (+4 vs May 2023), but only 12% think it is doing better (+2).

  • Under half of Britons (48%) think the economy will be doing much the same as it is now in a years’ time (-3 vs May 2023). A third (32%) think it will be doing worse (+1). 21% think it will be doing better than it is now (+3).

  • 71% of Britons rate the government as handling the economy very/fairly poorly. Only 21% rate the government as handling it very/fairly well. 8% are not sure.

  • 78% of Britons (-2 vs May 2023) think the government is handling cost of living very/fairly poorly. 16% (+1) think the government has handled this very/fairly well. 5% are not sure (nc).
2. Immigration
  • Half of Britons (50%) think the actions and measures the government have taken over the last 12 months to reduce illegal immigration do not go far enough. 17% think they go too far. 9% think they are about right, and a quarter (24%) don’t know.

    • 78% of 2019 Conservative voters think the measures do not go far enough, while only 11% think they go too far.

  • 73% of Britons think the government is handling illegal immigration very/fairly poorly. 19% of Britons would say that the government is handling it very/fairly well. 9% are not sure.

  • A fifth of Britons (21%) ranked ‘stricter border controls to reduce immigration’ as one of their top three priorities for the UK government to tackle (+1 vs May 2023). This is ranked below cost of living (42%), investing in NHS capacity (38%), growing the economy (25%), and affordable housing (23%).

3. Climate Change
  • 61% of Britons are not very/not at all confident that the UK will be able to achieve a net zero economy by 2050. A quarter (24%) are very/fairly confident. 16% don’t know.

  • When asked whether the government should prioritise reducing the cost of living for households, or taking action to reduce climate change:

    • 59% of Britons said that the government should prioritise reducing the cost of living for households, even if it meant delaying actions to reduce the impact of climate change. 

    • A fifth of Britons (21%) said the government should prioritise actions to reduce the impact of climate change, even if it meant increased costs for households. 

    • 20% of Britons did not know which the government should prioritise.

  • Nearly two thirds of Britons (64%) are very/fairly concerned about climate change and its consequences (-1 vs November 20224). Under a third (29%) are not very/not at all concerned (+5). 7% don’t know (-4%).

  • Over half of Britons (53%) think the government is handling climate change very/fairly poorly (+1 vs May 2023). 28% think the government is handling of climate change very/fairly well (-4%). 18% are not sure (+2).

  • A majority (55%) rate the cooperation between countries globally to tackle climate change as fairly poor or very poor. While only 25% rate it as very or fairly good.

4. Policy Priorities

When asked about the three most important priorities for the UK government if it is to improve public life in the UK, Britons cite the following:

  • Reducing the cost of living for households (42%, -10 vs May 2023)
  • Investing more in NHS capacity (38%, nc)
  • Growing the UK’s economy (25%, -3)
  • Affordable housing (23%, +2)
  • Stricter border controls to reduce immigration (21%, +1)
5. Voting Intentions 

(Note: 31 August and 4 September 2023 with the majority of fieldwork
conducted before the announcement of school closures on Friday 1 September)

  • Labour 43% (+1 vs May 2023)
  • Conservatives 27% (-2)
  • Liberal Democrats 13% (+2)
  • Green 5% (nc)
  • SNP 5% (+1)
  • Reform UK 4% (-1)
  • UKIP 1% (nc)
  • Plaid Cymru <1% (-1)
  • Other 1% (nc)

Methodological information

A total of 1,146 interviews were conducted online among adults living in Great Britain between the 31 August and 4 September 2023. All interviews were conducted online using the Kantar Research Express. The Kantar Profiles 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 Barometer was issued under our former global brand name: Kantar Public.  

Richard Crawshaw
Senior Research Scientist United Kingdom

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