Inflation: Brits growing frustrated with government handling of price rises

Patrick EnglishResearch Manager
September 22, 2021, 10:55 AM UTC

As news of potential surges in gas prices and failing energy companies hits the headlines, and with food and supply costs continuing to rise as a result of the ‘perfect storm’ of Brexit and Covid-19 related supply chain issues, YouGov data suggests that for this first time this parliament the British public now believe that the government is handling the issue of inflation badly. 

Last week, the Office for National Statistics reported that inflation had increased to 3.2% over the summer. The British public has clearly felt the squeeze on personal finances, and they are now laying blame for rising prices at the government’s door. 

Unlike in the cases of health and immigration, the government had until recently enjoyed consistent plurality support among the public for its handling of inflation. As recently as mid-June, 42% of Brits thought the government was handling inflation well, compared to 30% badly.

A week later sentiment had narrowed to just a three-point gap, and by mid-July we saw our first lead in the opposite direction, when 38% of Brits thought the government were handling inflation badly compared to 35% well. Public opinion on the issue then remained evenly split until September, from which point frustration with the government’s performance has grown at a rapid pace. 

Our most recent tracker data suggests that 46% of the public now think the government is performing badly on this increasingly topical issue, versus 31% who think they are doing well. Dissatisfaction is up on last week, when the figures were 34% for well, and 41% badly. The week previous, we saw 34% for well and 38% for badly. 

It remains to be seen whether this is a short but sharp blip in public evaluations of government performance, but with concerns surrounding winter fuel and food crises these numbers could yet go even further in the wrong direction for Boris Johnson and his government.