Continued drop in public approval of government in Britain

Latest research shows record-level lows for confidence in the economy and a public increasingly less likely to use a contact-tracing app.
17 June 2020
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Luke Taylor

Head of Opinion Polling, Public Division, UK

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Findings from Kantar’s research between 11 and 15 June reveal:

  • Public perception of how the UK government is handling the crisis is worsening, with over half of people (55%, +12 vs May) stating that they think the government is handling the coronavirus outbreak very/fairly poorly. Fewer than four in ten (39%, -10) think that the government are handling it very/fairly well
  • Public confidence in the economy continues to fall even further - to the lowest level since measurement began in August 2011 - with three quarters of people (76%) stating that Britain’s economy is doing worse than 12 months ago, compared to 69% in May
  • Over a third (36%, -2) report that coronavirus has reduced their personal income
  • Four in ten people (41%) say that in the last week, they ‘never’ wore a mask outside their home
  • A smaller proportion of the public now say they would be very / fairly likely to use the planned NHS contact-tracing app (46% in June, compared to 59% in May and 53% in April)

Economic impacts and expectations

Overall, personal experience and expectations for the economy remain in line with May with numbers feeling insecure about their job and the economy compared to last year remaining at or close to record-high:

  • Job insecurity remains high; almost four in ten of those working (39%, -1) believing their job is less safe than it was 12 months ago
  • Women are more likely to think that the economy is doing worse now than it was 12 months ago (84% compared to 68% of men)
  • 7% of people in Britain report to have had their income reduced by COVID-19 and expect this reduction to be permanent compared to 2% who have had a reduction and think their income will return to normal immediately once lockdown is over; 10% who think it will return to normal within a few months and 14% who think their income will return to normal, but it will take more than a few months
  • Thinking ahead to when lockdown restrictions end, 32% people say they will shop in stores (non-grocery/necessity) less often than before the pandemic. 40% of people say they will go out to eat less than before and 41% say they will go to pub/bars less than before. 

However, despite the economic worries being reported, this study also shows some early signs that the public may be anticipating a quick recovery for the economy:

  • There has been a reduction in the proportion that think the economy will be doing worse in 12 months’ time, 43% in June, compared to 48% in May and 50% in April. Men are more optimistic than women, with 27% of men thinking it will be better in 12 months’ time, compared to 20% of women
  • The proportion of people who say they are finding it harder to meet their monthly household budget compared to 12 months ago has not increased (28%, -2 vs May)

Perceptions of actions and intervention to tackle COVID-19

As British society experiences changing lockdown restrictions, new challenges are emerging for longer-term initiatives for tackling COVID-19:

  • Just less than half (49%, -13) of the public now rate the government’s communication of information about COVID-19 as very/fairly good
  • Four in ten (40%) say they would be fairly / very unlikely to use the planned NHS contact tracing app – compared to 28% in May and 32% April
  • Among those that say they are unlikely to download the contact tracing app, the main reasons are: concerns about privacy (49%, +3), not wanting the government to track their location (35%, +8) and not thinking the app will help to slow the spread of coronavirus (29%, +3)
  • Fewer than one in ten people (9%) say they ‘always’ wore a mask when outside their home in the last week, with a further 9% reporting that they ‘usually’ did. 11% say they ‘rarely’ did and 41% of people state that in the last week they ‘never’ wore a mask outside their home
  • Of those who said they rarely or never wear a mask outside their home, the main reasons given are ‘it’s not required, and I don’t feel like it’ (34%) and ‘I don’t think masks are effective at stopping the spread of the virus’ (33%) – despite masks now being mandatory on all public transport in England and the World Health Organization advising from June 6 that they should be worn in public where social distancing is not possible

Brexit transition period

  • With the deadline to agree any extension to Brexit transition period just weeks away on July 1st, 2020, there is a worsening in public perception of how the government is handling negotiations. 29% (-2) of people think the government is handling the negotiations ‘well’ and 46% (+8) think these are being handled ‘poorly’
  • Over four in ten people favour a UK-EU trade deal coming into force after the transition period (45%, compared to 41% in April). Just one in five (20%) favour exiting under WTO rules (unchanged from April 2020)
  • The public in Britain are split on whether an extension should be asked for: 41% say it should be extended and 39% say it should not. 20% ‘don’t know’

Voting intentions

  • Conservative 43% (-8 vs May 2020)
  • Labour 35% (+3)
  • Liberal Democrats 8% (+1)
  • SNP 5% (no change)
  • Green 4% (+2)
  • The Brexit Party 2% (nc)
  • UKIP 1% (+1)
  • Plaid Cymru <1% (-1)
  • Other <1% (-1)

Commenting on the findings, UK CEO of Kantar’s Public division, Craig Watkins said “the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 continue to reverberate in British households – record level negative rating of the economy compared to last year and ongoing public worries about their job security. As the situation becomes more complex, we see public approval of the government being tested, and fewer people saying they would be likely to use a contact tracing app than last month.

However, this latest study also shows perhaps the beginnings of public hope for a fast recovery for the economy and as Britain looks to shift to the ‘new normal’, understanding the household impacts is critical for effective government policy. Kantar’s Social Response and Recovery programmes support policymakers to respond to these complex challenges and develop policy for a resilient recovery. In the UK for example, Inside Lives, our longitudinal qualitative study, provides insight into public experience, feelings and beliefs during this time using video diaries and discussions.”

Notes to Editors

  • 17% (-2) of Britons think that leaving the European Union will make it easier for the UK government to handle outbreaks like Coronavirus in the future. 25% (+2) think it will be more difficult. Majority of Britons don’t think that the UK leaving the EU will make it easier or more difficult for the UK government to handle outbreaks like Coronavirus in the future (39%, -1)
  • If a new referendum was held on the UK’s membership of the European Union, 42% (+2) of Britons say they would vote to Remain, 33% (+1) say they would vote to Leave. 16% (-1) say they wouldn’t vote and 10% (nc) ‘don’t know’.


The survey data and further details on the methodological approach can be found here.   

A total of 1,124 interviews were conducted online among adults living in Great Britain between 11 and 15 June 2020. Interviews were conducted using the Kantar Research Express Online Omnibus, which uses the Kantar online access panel as its sample source.

The data was weighted to match population totals for age, gender, working status, 2019 General Election voting patterns, 2016 EU referendum voting patterns, education, region, and likelihood to vote in the next General Election. Any use of this research must cite Kantar as the source.

Want more like this?

Read: May 2020 Britain Barometer

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