Public confidence in the state of the economy is continuing to improve, along with faith in the government’s economic management, according to a new survey.

But the TNS Public Opinion Monitor, conducted among 1190 adults, found that optimism about economic prospects remains low, the public is divided on the government’s record and most remain pessimistic about their own financial prospects. The survey was carried out after the Chancellor’s December 5th Autumn Statement.

Asked how they thought the economy is performing compared with a year ago, 29% said it was better, double the level of six months ago and well above the 5% recorded two years ago. Similarly, 28% think that the economy will be in better shape in a year’s time, up from 22% in June and 10% two years ago.

However, the majority still believe that the economy is much the same as a year ago (52%) and will be much the same in a year’s time (55%). Fewer people think the economy is worse than a year ago – 19% against 28% in June and 58% two years ago – and the number of those who believe it will be worse in a year’s time has dropped to 17% from 22% in June and 37% two years ago.

Nearly a third (32%) rate the government’s economic management as good, up from 20% in June, while 35% say it is poor, down from 44% in June.

But while people appear to have been revising their views on the economy, their expectations for their own wages and job prospects show little change.

More than half of those in employment (55%) say they expect their pay to remain the same in the coming year, 23% expect a rise and 8% expect a cut. These figures have changed little over the last year. More than a quarter (29%) say their job is less secure than it was a year ago and 11% say their job is more secure, also little changed over the past year.

In tune with the rise in optimism about the economy, public anxiety about growth and unemployment appears to be easing, with other issues assuming more importance in the public mind.

Given a list of possible measure to improve public life in the UK, generating economic growth and reducing unemployment remain top of the Public Priority Index. However, they seem to be declining in importance whilst reducing income inequality, improving social care for the elderly and renegotiating Britain’s position in the EU are becoming more important.

The issue of immigration remains highly divisive; while stricter border controls to reduce immigration is a top three priority for 39% (higher than any other areas) it is also one of the bottom three priorities for 34%.

POM September

Notes to editors
TNS Omnibus interviewed a representative sample of 1,190 adults in Great Britain between 5th and 9th December 2013.

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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