World Refugee Day 2018: How does the British public feel about refugees?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
June 19, 2018, 11:00 PM GMT+0

Three in ten Brits think refugees receive too much help from the UK government

For the past few years, the refugee crisis has never been far from the headlines. The world is facing the highest numbers of displaced people on record, many of whom are fleeing persecution or war and thereby eligible for refugee status in the UK.

Public opinion towards immigration over the past decade as a whole has not been particularly positive: 63% of people think the number of people coming to the UK has been too high over the past ten years.

In light of World Refugee Day, we investigated how this sentiment compares when thinking specifically about refugees.

Are we helping enough?

Britons are split on whether refugees are receiving the appropriate amount of help: 17% believe that they are, while 30% believe they are getting too much help and 18% too little. The remaining 35% say they don’t know.

Younger people are more likely to think we don’t do enough for refugees: 34% of 18-24 year olds say we are giving too little help, compared to 19% of 25-49 year olds and 11% of people aged 65 and over - of whom 33% feel we are giving too much help.

Aiding refugees is clearly an ideological issue: half of Britons (51%) who identify as left wing think we are giving too little help, compared to 3% of people who identify as right wing. Of those who feel there should be much tighter restrictions on immigration as a whole, 59% feel we are giving too much help to refugees, compared to just 5% among people who think current restrictions are "about right".

How do Britons feel about admitting more refugees compared to other types of migrant?

YouGov polling in April investigated the extent to which Britons feel different types of migrants should be allowed to come to the UK.

Regarding refugees, 25% of people said we should allow more people fleeing persecution or war in other countries to come to the UK; 29% say we should allow present numbers; 22% say we should allow less and 11% say we should not allow this group in at all.

In comparison to other types of migrant, the public is more supportive of admitting greater numbers of refugees than they are low-skilled migrants looking for work (5%), migrants coming to live with relatives already living in the UK (13%) and wealthy migrants looking to invest in Britain (20%).

They are, however, less likely to support greater numbers of refugees than they are migrants looking to work in the health system (38%), high-skilled migrants looking for work (29%) and foreign students (27%).

Photo: Getty

See the results for perceptions on how much help migrants are receiving here and attitudes towards admitting migrants here

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