Cost of living crisis ‘biggest public concern since 1980s'

Inflation has emerged as the top issue of concern for the public, according to a survey of 1,000 UK residents by Ipsos.

Its Issues Index for August reveals that 54% believe inflation is one of the biggest issues facing the UK and four in ten (37%) believe it is the single biggest issue.

This is the highest the issue has been rated been among the public since inflation was previously at historically high levels in the early 1980s.

From 1980 to 1982 between seven in ten and three in ten people said inflation was a major issue impacting people in the UK.

The findings indicate that increasingly selective donors, who are themselves impacted by rising costs, are more focused on financial issues than at any time since the 1980s and ensuring the hardest hit are being supported.

A separate survey, of 2,000 people by Enthuse in June, found that six in ten are being more selective about they charities they give to or are giving smaller amounts, due to the impact of inflation on their giving.

This could see increased interest in donating to food banks and other charities helping those most disadvantaged by inflation, the survey suggests.

“Public concern about inflation continues to rise: over half of the public now consider prices and inflation to be an important national issue, and almost four in ten see it as the single most important concern for Britain. This is the highest score we’ve recorded since the early eighties,” said Ipsos.

“Moreover, the publics’ wider concerns are dominated by economic concerns, with three of the top five national issues touching on affordability and the performance of the economy.

“With further increases in inflation likely we can expect these issues to dominate public concern as we head towards winter.”

Ipsos believes public concern about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis could be even higher now, as the survey was carried out earlier this month before the consumer prices index hit double digits for the first time in 40 years.

“The rapid increase in inflation over 2022 has been met with a similarly sharp increase in public concern, and it is worth nothing that this month’s 54% score was recorded before the announcement that the consumer prices inflation rate breaches the 10% mark in July,” said the market research firm.

Environmental and economic concerns

More than a third (36%) say the economy is a major concern, 11 percentage points higher than at the start of the year.

Petrol and fuel prices are the fifth biggest issue this month, mentioned by 17% of the public as a major concern.

The environment is also rising up the public’s agenda, also indicating that charities looking to tackle climate change will be among charities to benefit from donations over the coming months.

Around a quarter (23%) say the environment, pollution and climate change are major worries in August, up ten percentage points over the last month.

Record temperatures in the UK and drought conditions declared in parts of the country are behind the public’s rising interest in green issues, said Ipsos.

“Public concern about inflation continues to rise: over half of the public now consider prices and inflation to be an important national issue, and almost four in ten see it as the single most important concern for Britain,” said Ipsos senior consultant Mike Clemence.

“This is the highest score we’ve recorded since the early eighties. Moreover, the publics’ wider concerns are dominated by economic concerns, with three of the top five national issues touching on affordability and the performance of the economy.

“With further increases in inflation likely we can expect these issues to dominate public concern as we head towards winter”

Earlier this month Pro Bono Economics economist Jamie O’Halloran warned charities they face “an all-hands-on deck crisis” amid rising prices, due to soaring demand, reduced donations and their own increasing costs.

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