Ipsos MORI have a new survey for the Economist, exploring attitudes to several areas of the new government’s programme.

On nuclear power stations, 59% supported the building of new nuclear power plants to replace those at the end of their useful lives. This was a question that MORI had asked regularly in the past, and was the highest level of support for new nuclear power stations they’ve found so far – the first time over 50% of people supported it. The national citizen’s service programme also met with support. 82% supported a voluntary programme, 80% a compulsory programme (MORI used a split sample to compare attitudes towards whether it should be voluntary or compulsory, but given the sample size the difference is not significant). A majority (60%) also supported the idea that people who refuse a job offer should not be allowed benefits.

MORI also asked about a series of possible ways of saving money. The most popular was ending tax credits for those earning over £50,000 a year, which was supported by 68% – not a hugely surprising finding, taxes (or cuts) that only affect people richer than the respondent are eternally popular. 55% supported the idea of getting voluntary sector organisation to run more training programmes, and 50% supported outsourcing them to the private sector. Much less popular was raising the state pension age (opposed by 60%) or increasing tuition fees (opposed by 62%). On Child Trust Funds, 28% thought they should be abolished altogether, 42% that they should be restricted to only the poorest families.

Perhaps most interesting though were attitudes towards the “big society”. For the actual phrase “Big Society”, 42% of people said they heard about it, but of that 42% only 31% said they knew a great deal or fair amount about it. A third said they’d heard about it, but knew nothing about it. Questions about the thinking behind it revealed divided feelings, 64% of respondents agreed with the statement that the government had tried to do too much, and people should take more responsibility for themselves. However, they also feared that the government may end up doing too little – 50% agreed with the statement that “I am worried that government and public services will do too little to help people in the years ahead”.

People were also less than happy with some of the inevitable consequences of devolving more power to local communities. Asked if NHS services should be same everywhere in Britain, 81% agreed with only 18% thinking people should be able to decide themselves how they are delivered in local areas. This is a paradox we often see in polls on devolving powers locally – ask people if they want more power devolved to local areas, they say yes. Ask if they want the services to be different in different areas – the natural conesquence of this – they say no. It isn’t just because of the unique importance of the NHS either. MORI asked the same question about recycling, and 70% still thought it should be the same everywhere in Britain, with only 29% saying people should be able to decide how it is delivered in their local areas.

MORI also asked directly how many people would like more involvement in how their local schools and hospitals are run. Only between 9-13% said they were actively involved or would like to be, with between 12% and 22% saying they would like more of a say. This seems small, but it’s worth remembering that the concept doesn’t actually need everyone to be a school governor, etc, they just need enough people to get involved to make a difference. The question isn’t whether everyone wants the hassle of involving themselves in decisions over local public servivces – it’s whether they are happy or not for those decisions to end up in the hands of other local people, organisations or businesses rather than Whitehall and Westminster.


897 Responses to “Ipsos MORI on the Big Society”

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  1. “A majority (60%) also supported the idea that people who refuse a job offer should not be allowed benefits.”
    —————————————————————-
    I’m amazed this is as low as 60%.

  2. Amber – the full statement people were asked to agree or disagree with was:

    “People who refuse the offer of a job
    should not be allowed state benefits,
    regardless of their personal
    circumstances”

    So the “regardless of their personal circumstances” makes it quite harsh. Without that it would probably have had more people agreeing with it.

  3. Stupid questions don’t produce useful data.

    “Health Service should be the same everywhere in Britain” – 81%

    There has never been a common Health Service in Britain. If 81% wish that then they are not only going to have to amend the Scotland Act and the Wales Act, but for the very first time place the Health Service in Scotland in the hands of Whitehall.

    Do these respondents want a different system in NI? If they had been asked, probably no to that also.

    Did the respondents understand the question? No – but those in England (the vast majority of respondents) can’t be blamed for their ignorance, since their media never explains the difference between England and Britain – or the UK.

    Did Ipsos-Mori understand the question? Clearly not. For them, there is no excuse for their stupidity/ignorance/carelessness.

  4. Anthony
    Back on the previous thread I actually attempted a comment this evening about the Mori summary you posted but nobody replied in a sea of putting the world to rights.

    Thanks for this latest reference. As you may have learned, i live in the Big Society’s author’s constituency and have served a Gov and Clerk to both primary and sec school. My wife is Sec to the local Youth club. I think the 10 to 20%s were people who had served or do already serve as some such and thus the results are not surprising.

    May I repeat my earlier Q whether the data of young people leaving Labour and mainly to Tory is not significant? I found it very surprising.

  5. Did you see this one from the chart, Anthony? It’s not mentioned in the topline summary.

    Migration of workers into the UK is
    good for the UK economy

    Agree 41% Disagree 43%

    Don’t you find that quite surprisingly ‘liberal’?

  6. @ OLD NAT

    Health Service should be the same everywhere in Britain..
    ————————————————————
    Perhaps everywhere in Britain wants to be the same as Scotland.

  7. Amber Star

    :-)

    Well, they are free to ask Nicola for advice. Somehow, I think it’s more likely that most respondents haven’t heard of the Scottish NHS though.

  8. The key stat was the 50% who are ‘worried’ about the years ahead.

    I wonder what the party affiliation breakdown of those 50% are?

    I am less worried than I was two weeks ago but still apprehensive.

  9. I forgot to say that lots of people already do *something* so the low percentages who think they should is not surprising. I forgot to make that point.

    The rest literally don’t give a damn. It was always so.

  10. @ OLD NAT

    BTW, ’tis good to see you here 8-)

    Are you looking forward to the 2011 Holyrood elections? It will be interesting to see how the LDems do. If Scottish residents are unhappy with the coalition, I’m assuming that the SNP will benefit.

    If the coalition repeals the HRA, I am voting for independence!

  11. The question isn’t whether everyone wants the hassle of involving themselves in decisions over local public servivces – it’s whether they are happy or not for those decisions to end up in the hands of other local people, organisations or businesses rather than Whitehall and Westminster.
    ————————————–
    I’d have expected them to ask that actual question. Perhaps the Economist didn’t want to risk getting the ‘wrong’ answer. ;-)

  12. Big Society
    I’ve just asked my wife how many people came to last night’s Youth Club AGM who are not already on the Committee (composed of the leaders and the local great and good (say 8) and two volunteer helpers.

    Answer none.

    So no parents of 15 juniors and about 8 seniors.

    The numbers have been higher previously but the area’s small properties are still being bought up for second homes.

    I think this sums up rural England (OK Old Nat?).

    Interested for an urban anecdote that proves me out of touch but not holding my breath.

  13. Amber – If the coalition repeals the HRA I’m moving to Scotland and voting for Independence too!! ;)

  14. @ Sue Marsh

    You are 8-)

    Come & live in Edinburgh, you would love it :-)

  15. It has been suggested that a National Citizens’ Service programme for young people should be introduced in Britain. Under this scheme it is proposed that school leavers [would have a chance to/would have to] spend six weeks working on a voluntary project such as improving their local environment, helping to create local infrastructure or collaborating on a cultural event.
    ——————————————————–
    So not ‘National Service’ then.

    I would like to participate in all of the above, myself. But I left school a long time ago. :-)

  16. I don’t know where my shaded smiley came from -it was supposed to be a six and then bracket (??)

  17. Only 42% remember hearing about ‘the big society’.

    Of that 42%, almost half (48%) don’t know what the BS is supposed to achieve.

    Awesome communication fail, IMO.

  18. I am not surprised 42% heard the Big Soc initiative. I thought the switch from Con after that manifesto launch was down to some people guffawing at the concept.

  19. I think these polls are all really positive for the Blues.
    Looks like we’ve all gone a bit Tory.
    Perhaps having a Tory government is giving people the freedom to look more favourably on their policies.

  20. @ Howard

    That’s how I found out how to do 8-)

    I noticed I had one when I was making a list:
    1)
    2)
    etc. I got 8-) at 8.

  21. @ Sue

    I think these polls are all really positive for the Blues.
    ———————————————————
    It is a mixed bag, IMO.

    Local governance by interested individuals will not, IMO, produce standardised services – desired by 81%

    50% are afraid that the state will become too small; Éoin already ‘shouted’ that out. It is a big % of the population.

  22. Too much tongue in cheek stuff here. Let’s be plain about this, as far as volunteering is concerned my YC evidence is that nothing has changed whatsoever and apathy rules OK.

    Yes Amber it must have been an 8 (including the two helpers, neither mothers by the way). 8)

  23. “I would like to participate in all of the above, myself. But I left school a long time ago”

    Then you have the opportunity to do so Amber.

    There are 62,000 of them in UK.

  24. Amber – I know, I’m trying to be good :)

  25. Standardised NHS was favoured by voters of all parties:

    CON 82%
    LAB 84%
    LDEM 83%

  26. When you pay your £50 to fly to Rimini, you don’t expect to pilot the crate do you? Our parents think somone should be paid to lead and entertain when they pay YC subs for their kids.

  27. Amber

    “of them”= UK Social Enterprises

  28. Hi all,

    I agree the polls and generality of feeling is that the ‘blues’ are , er ok!

    This is probably due to their radicalism being curbed by LD – at the moment!

    There is a clear problem with the CGT issue – Davis starting some sort of ‘splinter’ – and we only 2-3 weeks in.

    The ’emergency’ budget will be interesting – DC has signalled that critics should await that event – I think it will be a pivotal moment. Can DC/NC carry their teams or do the differences start to emerge big style.

    For once, June might be an interesting political month!

  29. “standardised services – desired by 81%”

    Where is that Amber.

    Do you mean the NHS question?

    Who has suggested that Health Care be provided by Social Enterprises.

    Avtually what people want is “Effective” services.

    Standardised Services is Big Government speak.

    Rubbish Standardised Services are still rubbish services.

  30. @ Sue

    :-) LOL :-)

    You can try to be good – but I’m not allowing you to turn blue! ;-)

  31. NICE for instance

    What to think of politicians interfering with clinical decisions? Bad enough at national level already but just imagine if the local worthies start on local drug policy (shudder).

  32. @ Colin

    The Question was:
    The health service should be the same everywhere in Britain – 82% CONS agreed.
    People should be able to decide for themselves how The health service is provided – 17% CONS agreed.

    It is on page 3 of the MORI charts. Read carefully – the heading of the page & the layout is confusing.

    IMO, The NHS result appears not to fit what the Economist were looking for, so they have chosen to focus the headline on Labour voters’ attitudes to recycling! ;-)

  33. Howard

    “I think this sums up rural England (OK Old Nat?).”

    Who am I to say whether your description of rural England is accurate, or exclusive to rural England?

    My only problem is with silly people who confuse England, Britain or UK. Ignorance is so tiresome!

    Amber Star

    These threads get too long to keep up with, and my garden is more important at the moment!

    As to 2011, I’ll wait for some decent Scottish polling to make a judgement as to how the LDs are doing – given the quality of some of the polling, and the unwillingness of the Scottish MSM to commission polls, I may be waiting a long time1

  34. Deficit consequences

    Quote from Guardian on Spain’s credit rating

    Fitch Ratings cut Spain’s credit rating today, saying the government’s efforts to reduce debt will weigh on economic growth in the coming months – another blow to prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s efforts to shore up confidence in the state finances.

    The ratings agency cut the country’s rating one notch from AAA to AA plus, saying Zapatero’s efforts to close the budget deficit “will materially reduce the rate of growth of the Spanish economy over the medium term”.

    The ratings agency decision echoes concerns from economists that efforts to cut state debt will also withdraw stimulus from the economy and hinder growth. Lower growth in turn means gathering less in tax revenues

    Is Maynard Keynes turning in the grave? What about us?

  35. @ Colin

    Here are UK Social Enterprises offerings in Edinburgh:

    1. Forth Sector – Google them. They are consultants & are registered as a charity.

    2. The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

    Not particularly inspiring. Do you have a web-site address for UK Social enterprises that actually wants people to volunteer for something constructive? :-)

  36. Amber wrote
    ‘IMO, The NHS result appears not to fit what the Economist were looking for, so they have chosen to focus the headline on Labour voters’ attitudes to recycling’

    When i left England in 77 I always thought the mag was a lefty one. When did it change?

  37. @ Howard

    RE: Spain.

    An absolute fail for market appeasing economic policies, IMO.

    They are going ‘short’ – whichever economic path a country takes; there seems to be a concerted effort by ‘the markets’ to force interest rates up.

    Why am I not surprised? 8-)

  38. 50% agreed with the statement that “I am worried that government and public services will do too little to help people in the years ahead”.

    I’m surprised that’s as low as 50% to be honest. I’m a bit worried myself even though I’ll remain optimistic and give the gov the benefit of the doubt.

    @ Amber
    “Of that 42%, almost half (48%) don’t know what the BS is supposed to achieve.”

    Hehe, I had to do a double-take there. Oh and Edinburgh isn’t that great, ole’ Glasgae is far better.

  39. Amber
    What on earth must be churning through Cable’s mind at present? Nothing particularly saintly I imagine.

  40. Just heard about David Laws expenses problems….

    That shiny new sheen is soon falling off….

  41. @ Amber Star

    Here in the NW we have many “new” consulting companies specialising in Social Enterprise… But it does not mean that they are not very important (the SEs). However, knowing over 10 of them rather well, I strongly resist that they have anything to do with Big Society.

    And yes, it’s the results are a bit bluish. It’s partly a result of the questions, partly a result of being fed up with Labour, partly a result of the devil is not being as black as it was supposed to be, partly a result of recession, partly the result of lack of alternatives.

    Now all these “partly”s affect different social groups differently and to different degree, but as a whole they have a somewhat strong resultant.

    I think the budget will change some of it. Also some of the 6 billion steps (for example: do you know how many public service organisations use legacy softwares? Do you know that people who can still use Cobol and similar languages are going to retirement? Do you know what are the effects of cutting IT budgets on this?)

  42. I agree about the polls thusfar being generally positive for the Tories. Their vote is back to the high 30s, and support for their policies is a lot higher than many people thought possible, myself included. This is very positive for the blues in the sense that they are not unpopular from the very beginning. However, I strongly expect their support (and vote) to take a hammering in the next few years as news of the imminent cuts is released.

    Let me put it this way – if Labour is not way ahead by the middle/end of next year, reds should be very worried indeed.

  43. @Howard,

    “IMO, The NHS result appears not to fit what the Economist were looking for, so they have chosen to focus the headline on Labour voters’ attitudes to recycling’

    When i left England in 77 I always thought the mag was a lefty one. When did it change?”

    The economist is generally left-of centre/centrist. It has supported Labour from 1997-2010. However, it took the view, before the last GE, that the Conservatives had the best plan for tackling the deficit, and that they deserved to win the GE on this basis.

  44. The Economist very recently expressed the view that a Tory-Lib coalition government is a much better prospect than a Tory majority would have been. So you couldn’t claim that it supports the Tories whole-heartedly.

    Its change of political allegiance away from Labour is purely down the fact that it felt that we couldn’t ‘merely grow our way out of a recession’, as many reds claim. In other words, it doesn’t agree with Labour’s current economic philosophy.

  45. Laszlo
    Do you know that people who can still use Cobol and similar languages are going to retirement

    How interesting – I know Cobol. I retired at the age of 43 (1989) and I always wondered if i should ever be required again.

    Is there money to be earned Laszlo?

    Go to Eldorado

  46. Excuse my dreadful typos tonight. Too much wine. 8-)

  47. @ Howard,

    The more time passes, the more I admire Vince as a politician. He has resigned the deputy spot so that a LibDem outside of the government can keep a separate identity for the Party

    This will be very important when events such as this economic ‘Catch 22’ begin to have an affect on the UK.

  48. AMBER

    “Do you have a web-site address for UK Social enterprises that actually wants people to volunteer for something constructive? ”

    FRom CSJ website-award winners based in Scotland ( I do not know if they take volunteers)

    Bethany Christian Trust

    Working Rite

    Findlay Family Network.

    More general advice in Scotland :-

    Volunteerscotland.

    Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition.

  49. Matt
    It’s not ‘Labour’s current economic policy’ it’s Keynes’ from a long time ago.

    If we get another further recession in Italy, Spain, UK, Greece, Netherlands ……….. need I go on?

    We usually call this a depression which is what the despised GB saved us from 2 years ago.

  50. @ OWAIN

    Oh and Edinburgh isn’t that great, ole’ Glasgae is far better.
    ———————————————–
    I like Glasgow too; it is a great city. :-)

    I wish they hadn’t ripped a motorway right through the middle of it though. 8-)

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