Economic gloom is killing Britons’ sense of common interest

Anne Summers reports on the results of the 28th British Social Attitudes Survey.

 

Anne Summers is the communications manager for NatCen Social Research

The 28th British Social Attitudes report publishes today. The report arrives at a difficult time: increased economic gloom, and in the wake of the public’s faith in a number of pillars of the establishment stretched to breaking point.

What effect has this had on the British psyche? NatCen Social Research’s interviewers have spent an hour in the homes of more than 3,000 people to find out.

There are glimpses of some important shifts. Overall, there are signs that British society is looking increasingly inward: we’re becoming a bit more individualistic, and less likely to look to see government as the solution to society’s problems’. If we’re right about this trend, there is a risk of increasing polarisation between the haves and have-nots over time.

People continue to think the gap between rich and poor is too wide, but they are not up for redistributing wealth as a result.

Many continue to believe that unemployment benefits are too high, and that they discourage people from finding work. And in a new module on child poverty, while we see real concern, people also believe that more than anything, the root cause of child poverty is poor parenting. So some tough attitudes on display.

This theme combines with evidence that self-reliance doesn’t equate to a sense of common interest.

In another new module, we see that pretty much everyone accepts the need to build more homes. But almost half are resistant to new homes in their own area: particularly in the South East (where need is greatest), and particularly among those who already own their own homes.

We’re also seeing less willingness to make financial sacrifices to safeguard the environment through higher prices or taxation. And in an interesting shift, people are less opposed to the better-off paying for health care. (Although we have not seen this shift in Scotland).

In tough times, society could do with more belief in its leaders; but in practice we see democracy under continued pressure.

This is particularly evident among the young, less well off, and among ethnic minorities. We’re seeing a long term decline in the belief in the duty to vote; fewer than one half of younger people voted in the last election; and the television debates only really appealed to people already interested in politics.

Why should we care? Because we may see society polarised and weakened as some prove much better equipped at self reliance and self interest than others.

If the government is hoping for the big society to solve problems, then we’re only half way there. Self reliance is part of the story: but a strong society requires people to look outwards too. And it requires people to believe in its leaders.

See also:

Immigration policy should support UK economic growth, not undermine itRuth Grove-White, December 5th 2011

Borrowing more to borrow less may not be political suicideLeo Barasi, December 5th 2011

Look Left – Workers prepare to fight slasher OsborneShamik Das, November 25th 2011

Message to Cameron: Talk to us, not TV newsSally Hunt, November 25th 2011

New survey shows public more willing to take action over pensionsNeil Foster, November 21st 2011

32 Responses to “Economic gloom is killing Britons’ sense of common interest”

  1. Political Planet

    Economic gloom is killing Britons’ sense of common interest: Anne Summers reports on the results of the 28th Bri… http://t.co/tkiY8ozp

  2. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Economic gloom is killing Britons' sense of common interest http://t.co/CwkLp72x

  3. Katy Wright

    Depressing but undoubtedly true: Economic gloom does not equal "blitz spirit" but "every man for themselves". http://t.co/rs01QOVe

  4. Anonymous

    Overall, there are signs that British society is looking increasingly inward: we’re becoming a bit more individualistic, and less likely to look to see government as the solution to society’s problems

    ====

    Yep. They have realised that government is the problem, the cause of most of societies ills, and not the solution to anything.

    ====
    Many continue to believe that unemployment benefits are too high, and that they discourage people from finding work
    ====

    Interview lots of people on benefits, and they will confirm that view.

    ====
    In tough times, society could do with more belief in its leaders; but in practice we see democracy under continued pressure.
    ====

    Destroyed by them stealing money. Why haven’t the 52% who committed fraud and paid back money been prosecuted? Because they have looked after themselves. ie. It’s pretty clear they are in it for your money.

    What about democracy? Labour, Lib Dems and the Tories promised a referenda or spun it to imply that there would be one which is deceitful at best. They then refuse to allow the electorate a say.

    With no democratic say, the public will conclude we have no responsibility. You lied. You didn’t ask us. We are not responsible for the consequences.

    ====
    his is particularly evident among the young, less well off, and among ethnic minorities. We’re seeing a long term decline in the belief in the duty to vote;
    ====

    Why are you surprised? You just asking them to select the next thief in Westminster, not to make a decision on anything.

    ====
    Why should we care? Because we may see society polarised and weakened as some prove much better equipped at self reliance and self interest than others.
    ====

    Yep, that is your legacy. It’s a direct result of your policies when you were in power and had a opportunity to do something about it.

  5. Richard Exell

    Economic gloom is killing Britons' sense of common interest, writes @natcen's Anne Summers: http://t.co/Ree5KDBe

  6. Anonymous

    Who’s surprised? Not me! Let’s face it, we’ve had 15 years of plowing outrageous sums of money into education, improving social mobility and economic equality and what have we to show for it? Nothing but a huge deficit! We’re in a worse situation than when we started! It’s like the government is King Midas but instead of turning everything it touches into gold it turns it into faeces; have they actually managed to get anything right at all at any point? Who can blame people for wanting to take care of their own affairs when they see all the endemic political corruption, heads in the expenses trough and utter incompetence?

  7. Michael

    Economic gloom is killing Britons’ sense of common interest – http://t.co/OEv8aGej

  8. Lee

    Economic gloom is killing Britons’ sense of common interest – http://t.co/OEv8aGej

  9. Clive Burgess

    Economic gloom is killing Britons’ sense of common interest – http://t.co/OEv8aGej

  10. Jamie

    Economic gloom is killing Britons’ sense of common interest http://t.co/fd6qAD0l

  11. Newsbot9

    Outrageous sums, right. You mean still well under the average for a first-world nation.

  12. Newsbot9

    No surprise that you advocate murder. That’s what slashing the VERY low levels of unemployment benefit this country has is. Does starving and freezing people give you a sexual rush?

  13. Anonymous

    And what about the debts? If you’re a taxpayer and not a scrounger, you have 225,000 pounds to pay, rising with inflation.

  14. Anonymous

    Ah yes. Attack the person with a completely irrelevant message. We all know about that. It’s a sign you haven’t got an argument to make.

    Here’s how it will play out. Lots of taxes on fuel to placate the green nutters means people will freeze. Lots of tax means they haven’t the money to pay for food or heating.

    Why? It’s all going on debts.

  15. Newsbot9

    What about them? You need growth to pay them down, and your Tories have their foot firmly on the neck of growth.

  16. Newsbot9

    No, your avocation of murder is directly relevant. That bloody handed eugenicists like you are around says a LOT of bad things about Britain.

    And no, our relatively LOW tax rates, especially for the rich, are not the reason. And I support nuclear power and no feed-in tarriffs, so you have no point there, as usual.

    Your answer is to murder the poor. That’s IT. No other possible solution in your world.

    Oh, and I’m a left winger, not a Laborite . Stop slandering me.

  17. Anonymous

    You need more than growth. You need growth that exceeds the borrowing cost.

    So look at what happens. Governments taxes people. A very small percentage is invested. What’s it invested in?

    You’ve told us already. HS2, Olympics, Five a day coordinators, trident, …

    It doesn’t generate growth it generates more debt.

    Unfortunately it’s tipped. They can’t get enough growth to get the debt down. The debt is growing fast than the ability to generate growth.

    Generating growth needs massive tax cuts on private capital spending where the government isn’t involved acting as guarantor. However, they need massive money to pay their debts and their five a day coordinators. So they won’t cut those taxes on investment.

    So its going the way of Greece.

    You will get your high spending.
    The Tories will get their small government.
    The public will get shafted.

  18. Newsbot9

    Oh yes, five a day coordinators. Who, guess what, save the country money. Can’t be having that, got to have everything done the hard way, social darwinist.

    It’s tipped because the Tories have put their foot on the neck of growth. The policy which you cheer for.

    You are getting what YOU want, by ensuring that no savings can be made. That everything has to cost more and take longer. This is your plan, not mine.

    There is NO evidence that tax cuts generate growth on anything like the scale required. They simply reduce revenue. Which serves your goal of destroying effective government, and killing the poor.

    I’m sure you’re working very hard to not pay tax and ensure we go Greece’s way.

  19. Anonymous

    So come on. Why shouldn’t tax cuts work?

    You were complaining that a tax avoidance scheme for film makers generated lots of wealth and removing it was a bad idea.

    Why not go the whole hog and have much reduced taxes for investment?

    Or is it that you personally suck at the teat of public money, and are worried about the cuts having a personal effect?

  20. Newsbot9

    Because trickle-down doesn’t work. Redistribution is necessary.

    And no, it’s not a tax avoidance scheme. It’s a *subsidy*. A tax-positive subsidy of the sort you hate. Never mind it demonstratively generate jobs, and that slashing the games one has traceably cost the UK over 2.5 billion in investment.

    And I’m underemployed, thanks to the Tories you love so much and their slash and burn which they’ve done to the PRIVATE sector.

    Of course I’m also worried about what happens to people. Meanwhile, you cry about the effect on companies and about slashes in corporate welfare, people ain’t important to you. That’d take empathy.

  21. Anonymous

    I haven’t proposed trickle down. ie. The rich will spend and the poor get employed in the process getting the crumbs.

    No, the poor get to keep all of their earnings, but they have to save. Others have to save, middle class included. That provides the investment funds for growth. Curtail low skilled migration, and the unemployed get jobs.

    So are you sucking at the teat of the public sector? Is it your pension that they have spent and now there is no cash there, you’re pissed off?

  22. Newsbot9

    Of course you’re talking about trickle down.

    It’s not POSSIBLE for the poor to save in a time of massively rising inflation and massively sub-inflation interest rates.

    And right, isolate the UK so our GDP take a minimum of a 40% hit so the starting base is far lower.

    And I said PRIVATE sector, which you’re ignoring for ideological reasons of course.

    My entire work for the public sector was working for the census last year. Which, I assure you, came with no pension and paid below the living wage.

    And of course you support turning public pensions into scams, as part of your general assualt on ANY kind of pension as evil.

  23. Nick Leaton

    Partly correct on the inflation front. Now who is responsible for that? Ah yes government with low interest rates. Higher rates would cut off inflation, and make saving more worth while.

    It’s still comes back to the working poor’s major expense. That is taxation. From NI, to Income tax to VAT, to stealth taxes such as charges for x y and z.

    So look at your wage last year, I presume its around min wage Look at the tax you were forced to pay.

    I’m in favour of funded pensions, because funded pensions come with assets, plus compound interest.

    21K a year for a median wage earner from the FTSE, or 5K from the state. Which is the better deal?

    You could afford for the FTSE to drop to less than25% of its current value and still be better off.

    Remember the little letter left by Labour. “There is no money. We have spent it”

  24. Newsbot9

    The bank of England set interest rates, not the government, do try and catch up with current events.

    And no, the major cost for poorer people is *housing*.

    I’ve earned a lot LESS than the minimum wage. Sitting on my ass on benefits would have earned me more!

    5k from the state, because it would be *paid*. I’m owed in the region of 250k by half a dozen private companies I’ll never see.

    Moreover, that “21k” gets thrown into an annuity and gets you 2k at best.

    (I have several sub-2k “pensions” which will earn me all of £10/year each)

    Moreover, if you can’t take a joke… (I’m also a left winger, not a Labourite, AGAIN)

  25. Mr Roshan

    Retarded, but predictable political thinking from the left. It is very simple: if you are against, say, government run healthcare – it does not mean you are against healthcare – it just means you realise that government is not the best provider of it. Unfortunately, in Britain, too many see government like a heroin addict sees heroin (ironically also available from the government). Also being against government forced wealth redistribution is hardly selfish, as well as it having done very little to ‘close the income gap’.

    The problem on the left (and I view the Liberal Tories as left of centre too) is that they have become hijacked by the Notting Hill trendies type crowd at the expense of the true working class. If it had more input by the actual working class, rather than focusing on the egalitarian ‘ideal’ of banning private schools, they would want selection returning to schools, they would not want an expansion of toilet paper factory universities, they would not want unlimited migration from the EU that all the statistics show are killing the working classes, they too would say the welfare system is way too generous (also killing the working class).

    I mean, look at this, ‘signs that British society is looking increasingly inward: we’re becoming a bit more individualistic, and less likely to look to see government as the solution to society’s problems’.

    This is the tripe that annoys me so much about the left-wing ‘elite’ types (i.e. the faux ‘working class’, people like Owen Jones, Sunny Hundal etc.) who do not understand what ‘selfish’ means. Furthermore, they just don’t get several documented facts, e.g., there are no cuts, welfare spending is at record highs (more than income tax revenue which is insane), the NHS is documented rubbish, the NHS is not being cut, the NHS is not being privatised, migrants took over 75% of new jobs created over the past 12 years etc etc.

  26. How can we fight child poverty without hitting people's pockets? | Left Foot Forward

    […] Economic gloom is killing Britons’ sense of common interest – Anne Summers, December 7th […]

  27. Newsbot9

    Absolutely. I mean, America’s healthcare system…er….is more expensive. And covers a far smaller percentage of the population. You’d still be able to afford cover, after all, and screw the poor, it’s not like they’re people.

    And of course, the “documented” facts which are complete lies, such as the fact there are massive cuts (and plenty of pork-barrel spending, which brings the bill back up, but there ARE cuts), welfare payments in this country are pitifully low for a first-world country, the NHS does well in studies, the NHS is taking major cuts to front-line services because it’s admin costs have doubled under the Tories and the “75%” figure is both inaccurate and counts many British citizens.

    But no, gotta get those “facts” straight! Propaganda all the way!
    Anyway, gotta make sure the poor work those 12-hour factory shifts…

  28. Toivo Hartikainen

    And for more on the British Social Attitudes Survey, see http://t.co/2FKXd6nT http://t.co/1gn6V6s3 & http://t.co/50VEWm6A #BBCqt

  29. AdurVoluntaryAction

    And for more on the British Social Attitudes Survey, see http://t.co/2FKXd6nT http://t.co/1gn6V6s3 & http://t.co/50VEWm6A #BBCqt

  30. Matthew Butcher

    And for more on the British Social Attitudes Survey, see http://t.co/2FKXd6nT http://t.co/1gn6V6s3 & http://t.co/50VEWm6A #BBCqt

  31. Mr Roshan

    Great strawman argument there. However, you are unaware of the real issues. The problem with the US healthcare system is it’s systemic socialisation and corporatisation (i.e. favouring corporations over the individual) which has led to sky-rocketing costs. The link is an overview of this: http://mises.org/daily/3793

    I am against this.

    And actually, US healthcare beats British healthcare in terms of real world statistics such as cancer survival (OECD), emergency abdominal surgery death rates (Royal College of Surgeons), ICU bed availability (University of Toronto study), MRI/CT scanners per head of population (OECD).

    I can provide links to these facts if you want (you can get me on twitter).

    On NHS spending, you are incorrect too:

    http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/charts.html?title=National_Health_Care_Chart&chart=10-total&state=UK

    As for low levels of UK health spending versus the OECD, again another myth:

    http://topforeignstocks.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/OECD-Healthcare-spending-2009.png

    I hope you can begin to see why I have so much disdain for the left – for their stories are fiction over fact, hysteria over truth.

    Perhaps after you reply, you may be able to get it.

  32. The right’s attack on child poverty targets shows their ignorance | Left Foot Forward

    […] Economic gloom is killing Britons’ sense of common interest – Anne Summers, December 7th […]

Leave a Reply