Half of all households say it’s harder to make ends meet than it was a year ago, according to the latest Public Opinion Monitor from TNS.

In the survey of 1,137 adults, 52% said it was harder to meet monthly household expenses, with only 7% saying it was easier.

Life appeared to be slightly easier for families. Parents were twice as likely as non-parents to find budgeting easier than a year ago, while 26% of parents with higher education said it was easier to meet their household needs.

TNS found that fewer people expect matters to improve in the next 12 months – the survey showed high levels of uncertainty about employment prospects and pessimism about household incomes.

Nearly two in five people felt that their jobs were less secure than a year ago, with only 15% feeling more secure. Again, those with higher education were less pessimistic than others, with 27% feeling that their jobs were more secure.

Only 21% of those surveyed expected their income to rise in the next year: nearly as many – 17% – thought it would fall. Among women with children, only 5% expected to have more income in a year’s time.

However, there may be signs that pessimism about the economy is beginning to ease. The proportion who thought the economy had improved in the last year rose from 8% to 13% between December and March, while 20% expected an improvement over the next year, double the level in December 2011.

The Kantar Public Policy Priority Index shows that concern about unemployment – which overtook the cost of living as the top policy issue last year – has eased slightly since the start of the year. However, concern about both issues remains at very high levels.

For more on the findings of this survey, please contact Nick Howat of Kantar Public on +44 (0)20 7656 5742.

For copies of the most recent Public Opinion Monitor (POM) findings, or for media briefings please contact Suzannah Archibald of TNS on +44 (0)207 656 5048.