BSA 41: Five years of unprecedented challenges

The impact of the 2019-2024 Parliament on public opinion

In this edition of our flagship British Social Attitudes, we assess what impact the last five years has had on the landscape of public attitudes.
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Five years of unprecedented challenges | The impact of the  2019-2024 Parliament on public opinion  

The 2019-2024 Parliament has witnessed unprecedented economic and political turmoil. The COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the associated ‘cost of living crisis’ have adversely impacted living standards and the economy. Public services have struggled to recover too. Meanwhile, two Prime Ministers were ousted from office. This chapter assesses how far these developments have affected public opinion and the implications our findings might have for the next government.

Dissatisfaction with public services

Despite record levels of taxation and spending, dissatisfaction with the health service is at an all-time low. Yet, so far, there has only been a limited reaction against the heightened level of taxation and spending. 

  • Dissatisfaction with the health service has more than doubled from 25% in 2019 to a record high of 52% now.
  • Dissatisfaction with social care has increased over the same period from 37% to 57%.
  • 46% say the government should increase taxation and spending, only slightly down on 53% in 2019.

Reactions to policy changes

Public attitudes towards some policy issues have changed in the wake of the challenges of the last five years.

  • Now, only 39% think migrants are good for Britain’s economy, down from 47% in 2019.  
  • 73% believe there is “quite a lot” of poverty in Britain, up from 68% in 2019.
  • 57% of people now express ‘Eurosceptic’ views, compared with 69% in 2019.

Low trust and confidence in governing arrangements

After rising in the wake of the delivery of Brexit, trust and confidence in government has fallen back to where it was five years ago, while a long-term decline in support for the monarchy has continued.

  • A record high of 45% “almost never” trust governments to put the nation’s interests first, up from 34% in 2019. 
  • After falling to 61% in 2020, 79% now say the system of governing Britain needs “a lot of improvement”, the same as in 2019.
  • Only 54% now say it is “very important” or “quite important” for Britain to have a monarchy, down from 68% in 2018.