Public criticism of Conservatives’ handling of the economy continues to grow

Beth MannSenior Research Executive
February 09, 2022, 12:23 PM GMT+0

Public now see the economy as a top issue as government handling of the issue continues to fall

The economy is now seen by Britons as the most important issue facing the country, jumping 12 points since last week from 45% to 57%. This is the highest percentage of people picking the issue since March last year. Last week the issue was tied in first place but is now 15-points ahead over second-placed health (42%), with the environment languishing in a distant third, at 27%.

While the Conservative party are still seen as the best political party to manage the economy overall - with 30% saying so, compared to 22% for Labour - Britons are becoming more and more sceptical about how well the government is handling the economy and surrounding issues such as taxation and inflation.

The percentage of Britons who say the government are handling the economy badly has gone up seven points since last week, from 57% to 64%. This pattern is mirrored among 2019 Conservative voters, with an increase from 34% saying badly last week to 42% now.

There has been widespread public concern over inflation, with some predicting cost increases as large as 7% in coming months. Public attitudes to how the government is handling inflation, have seen a similarly negative shift to the wider economy. The number of Britons who say inflation is being handled badly has increased by seven points in the last week, from 66% to 73%. Again, this is mirrored with a nine-point jump amongst Conservative voters, with a strong majority now thinking it is being managed badly (61%, vs 30% who think the government is doing well).

Concern over the state of the UK’s economy also includes the forthcoming National Insurance rise. This is reflected in attitudes to the government handling of taxation, with another seven-point increase in Britons labelling it ‘bad’, from 64% last week to 71% now. We also witness discontent growing further amongst Conservative voters, with 54% now saying badly (up from 47%).