Sunak’s pledges: two thirds say government is doing badly

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
February 20, 2024, 4:42 PM GMT+0

Pledge to get the economy growing takes a hit following UK recession news

One of Rishi Sunak’s five pledges as prime minister was that he would get the economy growing. However, following the news last week that the UK has slipped into recession, a new YouGov survey – conducted on 19-20 February – shows that the public overwhelmingly think the government is failing at each promise they made at the beginning of 2023.

When it comes to Sunak’s pledge to encourage economic growth, 69% of Britons think the government is doing badly and only 17% think they are doing well. As it happens, YouGov had initially asked this question on 14-15 February, shortly before the recession news broke. It seems that the poor economic forecast shifted public opinion slightly – in that previous poll 21% had thought the government was doing well and 63% badly.

This may have likewise affected perceptions on the other economic pledges too: the proportion of people who think the government are doing badly at reducing inflation (67%), reducing the national debt (71%) and creating better paid job opportunities (71%) are all four to six points higher in this most recent poll than the were the week before.

The promise that the public are most likely to think the government are performing badly on is cutting NHS waiting lists, with 88% saying so. This includes 64% who think the government are doing “very badly” at the task – this compares to 36-43% for the economic pledges.

On the final pledge – to remove small boats migrants quickly – 79% of Britons think the government is doing badly, including 57% who think they are doing “very badly”.

Just 5-6% of people say the government is doing well at their NHS waiting list and small boat pledges.

That the government is doing badly on its pledges is a view held across all voting and social groups. The only exception is among 2019 Conservative voters, who are divided on whether they are doing well (43%) or badly (45%) on reducing inflation – on all other pledges a majority of these voters agree with the wider public that the government are underperforming.

See the 19-20 February results here and the 14-15 February results here

Photo: Getty

Explore more data & articles