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Social and political attitudes of people on low incomes

Crowd at train station
Published: December 2016

Aim 

This report explores how people on low incomes perceive politics, how far they feel they can control or influence the impact of politics and policy on their lives, and provides a platform for them to speak out on the issues that most concern them.

We have conducted this research on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Findings 

  • It is clear that people on low incomes have attitudes to politics and public policy
    that are broadly in line with the wider population, a finding that may be surprising
    given how entrenched inequality is in our society, and how much the impact of
    political decisions can vary for higher and lower income communities.
  • Trust in politicians and the political system is low and falling, but interest in
    politics is rising slowly. Traditional party loyalties appear to be holding, as are
    longstanding differences in the way people on low incomes perceive welfare and
    worklessness.
  • Importantly, people on low incomes feel less in control of their lives and have less
    faith in politicians to act in the national interest. 
  • Immigration and concerns about its impact on public services and on culture emerged as a powerful and unifying theme.  

Methods

This report draws on three complementary projects: