The latest TNS Public Opinion Monitor shows that public confidence in the economy has improved over the last year. However, these ‘green shoots’ are yet to have a positive impact on the general public in terms of their income, job security and ease of meeting the household budget.
The poll of 1,184 adults in the UK shows that a third (35%) of the general public now believes the economy is doing better than a year ago (up 25 percentage points compared with a year ago). Only 15% of those polled think the economy has got worse (down 26 points). Furthermore, 32% think the economy will keep improving over the coming year (up from 17% in March 2013) and only 11% think that it will be worse in a year’s time (down from 28%).
But when the public were asked about job security and income, they were not found to be any more optimistic than a year ago. Three-fifths (58%) of those in work expect their pay to remain the same over the coming year (no change from the 59% recorded a year ago) and a quarter (25%) expect a pay rise (24% a year ago). Likewise, 48% of those in employment say their job is as safe as a year ago (50% in March 2013) and 26% feel their job is less safe (a small reduction from 31% in March 2013). The situation is no different for those not currently working (retired, students, unemployed, etc.), with 54% expecting their income to stay the same (56% a year ago) and 22% expecting their income to decrease (19% a year ago).
The survey also asked about how easy or difficult people find it to meet their household budget compared with a year ago. The results show once more that little has changed over the last year; 51% say it is the same as a year ago (unchanged from March 2013) and 37% find it harder than a year ago (42% in March 2013).
Over the last year the public have become more positive about the government’s management of the economy. Whilst in March 2013, 51% rated the government performance as poor or very poor and only 17% rated it as good or very good, by December 2013 this had changed to 32% rating it positively and 35% rating it negatively. However, over the last quarter this improvement has ceased and the scores have remained unchanged; currently 31% rate the government’s handling of the economy positively, 34% rate it negatively and 35% think it is neither good nor poor.
The Public Opinion Monitor also tracks the public’s policy priorities and these have been found to change considerably over the last year. There has been a reduction in the importance of generating economic growth; in March 2013 this was the number one priority but this has now dropped to being the third most important. The top two issues currently are reducing unemployment and investing more in health care. Over the last six months there has also been a marked increase in the proportion of the public that feel that reducing inequality is a priority and this has risen into fourth place.
Commenting, Dr Michelle Harrison, CEO of Kantar Public said “This latest research shows there has been a small rise in confidence amongst the general public. However, improvements to the wider economy have not yet translated to the day-to-day experience in most households.”
Notes for editors
TNS Omnibus interviewed a representative sample of 1,184 adults in Great Britain between 13th and 17th March 2014. All interviews were conducted as online self-completion. The data is weighted to match population totals for age, sex, social grade, working status, presence of children, 2010 voting patterns and region.
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