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UK Insights

Growing gap in the mood of the nation

Martin Shanahan

Research Executive

Economy 02.07.2014 / 12:40

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Improvements to UK economy being felt disproportionately by the better off

Research by Kantar company, TNS, has revealed a growing gap in the mood of the nation between higher income and lower income groups. Since March 2013 the proportion of people who agree that the British economy is doing better than a year ago has increased from 10% to 38% in June 2014. However, this increased confidence is not shared equally among people from different social grades. Looking at June 2014, 45% of ABC1s (higher income groups) agreed that the British economy was doing better than a year ago, compared with 27% of C2DEs (lower income groups). Similarly, 38% of ABC1s believe the economy will be better in a year's time whilst only 26% of C2DEs agree (June 2014).

When looking at attitudes towards the government's management of the economy the same divergence is found. A considerably larger proportion of ABC1s (42%) agree that the government is managing the economy well compared with C2DEs (23%).

The gap between the social groups is a relatively recent trend. In 2011 & 2012 both groups shared similar attitudes towards the economy and the government's management of it. In March 2013 10% of ABC1s felt that the economy was doing better than a year ago whilst 9% of C2DEs shared the same opinion- a gap of only 1 percentage point. In the most recent data the difference between the social grades stood at 18 percentage points. The widening gap suggests that the economic recovery is being felt differently across social grades.

When asked specifically about the impact of the recession on people's pockets, the same trends can be seen among people from different income groups. As of June 2014 the proportion of C2DEs who felt that managing their household budget has become harder compared to a year ago was 14 percentage points higher than for those in higher income groups (39% to 25% respectively).  Although for both groups this percentage has decreased over the last year, the rate at which this is falling is slower for C2DEs than for ABC1s. As with the general economy, C2DEs remain more pessimistic than those in higher social grades.

This research suggests that the government may need to take steps to ensure that the economic recovery is experienced across social grades or risk alienating a significant part of the electorate. Who benefits from the recovery and who misses out promises to be an important factor in determining the outcome of the 2015 UK general election.

Source : Kantar TNS

Editor's Notes

The Public Opinion Monitor by Kantar company, TNS BMRB, will be reviewing the issues that are important to the British public every month in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

Each wave of the Public Opinion Monitor is comprised of a representative sample of c. 1,200 adults in Great Britain. All interviews are conducted by TNS Omnibus using an online self-completion methodology. The data is weighted to match population totals for age, sex, social grade, working status, presence of children, 2010 voting patterns and region.

Journalists, the data tables for the June 2014 research can be downloaded above, for more information or an interview, please contact us.

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