Public services are in bad shape across the board, say Britons

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
October 03, 2023, 8:16 AM GMT+0

From hospitals to schools, courts to trains – Britons think the state of public services are ramshackle

YouGov asked Britons about 12 key public services, with a majority thinking that most are in a bad state. At 86%, the NHS is the service people are most likely to describe as being in a bad state, including almost half of the public considering it to be in a “very bad” state.

Given this, it’s hardly surprising that the more specific health services are judged to be performing similarly poorly – 81% for hospitals, 78% for social care and the same number for GPs.

Seven in ten say that trains (70%) and police (69%) are likewise in a bad way, with two thirds saying the same of prisons (67%). Around six in ten consider schools (63%) and the courts/justice system to also be in a bad state (57%).

Half of Britons say bus services are in bad shape (49% compared to 40% who think they are doing fine).

The public tend to think the armed forces are in good shape (by 43% to 31%), but the only public service we asked about that most Britons think is in strong form is the fire brigade, by 54% to 26%.

While Conservative voters have a slightly less outlook on public services than their Labour-voting counterparts, a majority of both groups still say that most of the public services we asked about are in bad shape.

Crime services, social care and the armed forces are particularly likely to be seen in bad shape by those more familiar with them

When we look at the answers among those who have actually interacted with each public service in the last 12 months the results in most cases are similar – but some services stand out.

Those Britons who have had to interact with crime-related public services – police, prisons, and courts and the justice system – in the last 12 months are particularly likely to say those services are in a bad shape compared to the wider public.

Fully 81% of those who have interacted with the prisons system say they found the system to be performing poorly, 14pts higher than the wider public. Likewise, 72% of people who have used or interacted with courts/justice system in the last 12 months say the service is in bad shape, 15pts higher than the wider public. For those who have had to deal with the police, that gap is seven points higher, at 76%.

The largest gap comes with the armed forces, however. Half (50%) of Britons who have interacted with the armed forces in some way in the last 12 months came away with the impression that things are not going well, a rate 19 points higher than the wider public.

Social care is also looking more rickety to those who have dealt with it in the last 12 months, at 88%, ten points higher than the wider public.

See the full results here

Photo: Getty