The BBC have quite a Ipsos MORI have quite a detailed poll on public attitudes towards funding the NHS. So far I think the BBC’s coverage has only briefly mentioned it in relation to (predictable) public support for increasing the charges on foriegn visitors who use the NHS, but the full tables have a lot of interesting things.

MORI asked people if they thought it was acceptable or unacceptable to increase funding for the NHS in various ways. The least popular method was – obviously – a move to an insurance model of NHS funded. The defining feature of the NHS is that we don’t have to worry about insurance and suchlike, people are free to go to the doctors without worrying about money. Nevertheless, a surprisingly high 33% of people thought this would be acceptable. People also rejected (by 51% to 37%) the idea of charging for services that are currently free. Asked about specific charges, 43% of people say they would be willing to pay for a guaranteed GP appointment within 24 hours, 51% would not (the average amount was £11).

Increasing income tax to fund the NHS was rejected by 40% to 50%. This is in contrast to a recent YouGov poll that asked a similar question and found slightly more people supported paying more income tax for the NHS than opposed it. I think this difference is down to wording – YouGov asked specifically about increasing income tax from 20% to 21% while the MORI poll did not specify the size of the increase – indeed, a later question in MORI’s poll asks more specifically about an increase in the basic rate from 20% to 21%, and this bumps support up to 50%. It looks like people are happy to pay more income tax for the NHS… so long as its only a modest rise. Support for increasing the higher rate of income tax (which most people wouldn’t have to pay themselves) is more popular, with 61% support.

As with the YouGov poll MORI also found a higher level of support (53%) when it asked about funding the NHS by increasing National Insurance. For the majority of respondents a 1p increase in income tax would be functionally identical to a 1p increase in national insurance, yet the NI increase is always more popular. Part of this difference may be down to the responses of over 65s, who do not have to pay national insurance, but looking at MORI’s breakdown the increase is across all age groups, so it is presumably also down to the fact that people are less aware of how National Insurance payments work. For what it’s worth, the MORI question did not specify employees NI contributions, so some respondents may have been thinking about employer’s NI.

MORI also asked about the potential for charging people for illnesses that are “caused by their lifestyle” or for missing appointments. These are similar in a way – the logic behind both is presumably that people are, through their behaviour, costing the NHS money. Public attitudes are completely different though – 71% think it is acceptable to charge the public for missing appointments, only 44% think it would be acceptable to charge for lifestyle related illnesses. Perhaps they view it as different levels of moral culpability, different potential costs, different likelihoods of being personally affected by it, or just infringing too much on the principle of being free at the point of delivery. When MORI asked about two specific cases later on in the survey people were far less forgiving: only 33% think liver transplants should always be available for free for alcoholics, only 27% think weight loss surgery should be freely available for obese patients (25% think it shouldn’t be available at all). That said, both these are quite unsympathetic examples.

So what can we conclude from all that? Well, around about half the population say they would support an increase in general taxation to pay for the NHS, depending on the level of the increase, which tax it was or which tax band. Only a minority (though perhaps a larger minority than you’d expect) would consider a change to the funding basis of the NHS acceptable. Asked in general, only a minority of people would support charges for treatment for conditions that are seen as “self-inflicted”, but shown some specific examples most people would support restrictions on treatment for some specific examples like transplants for alcoholics or weight loss operations for the obese.

134 Responses to “BBC/Ipsos MORI poll on NHS funding”

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  1. WB
    Apparently a concession from the minister Parliament will be allowed a vote on the final deal before it goes before the European Parliament: Norman Smith says the devil will be in the detail:

    Actually it’s not really a concession, just a restatement of what May has always said:-
    “No10 clarification on David Jones announcement: “It’s a very clear choice. It’s either vote for the deal or leave the EU without a negotiated deal”.

  2. Looks like Labour’s top team have been made to look somewhat foolish in the commons today. Celebrations of May’s offer have been a little premature, as she is telling them that if they vote down the deal offered it’s then leave the EU with no deal and WTO terms.

    Ho hum.

    Quite in keeping, I learn today that Warner Brothers latest blockbuster epic Dunkirk is set for general release in July.

    It tells the tale of a beaten and humiliated British army withdrawing in dissaray from the beaches of northern France after a swift and relentless crushing by the mighty German forces.

    Have we been here before?

  3. On GB wide v separate nations, I think the issue is one that related to the poll on the Referendum and educational qualification.

    In both cases people seemed to have focused on the wrong things.

    On the NHS it’s turned into bickering about Scotland v England but the focus should be on how peoples perceptions are shaped.

    How aware are people in Scotland or indeed England about the differences between the systems. Probably very little.

    I know from conversations with people in England around the time of the the Independence referendum that they thought that we got everything for free up here.

    The truth is Free personal care doesn’t cover anything like as much or is worth as much as people in England seem to think.

    I think a GB poll is valid despite the different systems because peoples perceptions are shaped largely by the national media, so many Scots will be worried about the waiting lists stories they read even though they don’t apply to them.

    There is little point in separating out people in Scotland because Scotland has a separate system if their perception of the state of the NHS is largely shaped by stories on News at 10 based on the NHS in England.

    Equally rather than all the guff about Liberal elites looking down at the less well educated or the workers being to dump to understand we should perhaps look at where people by educational qualification get there information from and see how that shaped their views.

    If Graduates get it from the BBC and the Times and Guardian, then even if they aren’t particularly liberal or left wing, it will be a more nuanced and in depth coverage.

    If others get it from Tabloids which are more stridently anti EU, populist and less in depth then they may well be seeing things differently.

    That doesn’t mean they are thick or that others are better informed, just informed by different sources.

    the key question is to ask;

    “What are we trying to sample?” and “are the results valid?”

    If we want to know what the public perception is then regardless of where in the UK they live and what form the NHS takes where they are then a UK sample is valid and useful.

    If we want to know if that perception is an accurate reflection of the realities, then it probably isn’t because they could well be making their assumptions on the basis of something happening elsewhere or on a local experience that is far from universal.

    So all we have is a aggregate feel for it rather than an accurate picture. Useful for what it is but limited.

    Likewise the EU splits.

    There are different perspectives and it is wrong if not foolish to imagine that ones is necessarily superior to the other or that those of a different view are acting as if they are.

    Old people have seen rapid change due to recent immigration compared to most of their lives while as many of the young have known little else, so for them it’s natural and for those older strange.

    It’s not about who is right our wrong but perspective.

    Equally people are loss averse.

    Graduates tend to have less competition for “Their Jobs” than in lower skilled occupations so the idea that they are “Taking our Jobs!” or indeed sovereignty has more resonance for people in industries like retail or leisure.

    the fact that their is little evidence of displacement doesn’t mean the anxiety isn’t there and likewise it doesn’t help that those who say they shouldn’t be anxious are in jobs where the anxiety is far less apparent.

    It’s all very well for the Captain on the Bridge to tell those bailing in the bilges that the ship is safe and won’t sink and it may be true, but he isn’t knee deep in water!

    The reverse is also true.

    It may well be that Brexit is going be bad for the UK in the long term but as long as most of those that voted leave don’t feel worse off or feel that it would have been worse if we’d stayed they won’t stop thinking it was the right choice.

    For me the key finding of this survey is confirmation of what we already knew, people care deeply about the NHS, they know it is struggling, they want something done about it, but they don’t know what.

    They think changes need to be made but they can’t agree on which ones and are reluctant to make even the ones they agree on.

    As I once said at an SNP policy forum, avoid making commitments on the “Intractables”.

    If every Party in ever Democracy that has promised to deal with it up to now has failed, we will too!

    Think of the NHS as being like the Somme, go over the top and it will bleed you dry for little or no gain!


  4. Alec

    “Have we been here before?”

    If I recall at the end of WW2 Germany was totally defeated and broken up into zones administered by the Allies. Is that what you meant?

  5. SC – I am no fan of Diane Abbott but think the below is inaccurate.

    ”Though that never got in the way of sending her kid to private school while at the same time haranguing others for doing the same”

    Many parents, I believe, would actually applaud an MP for putting their Children first.

    One might wish we had no need for private health in this county and that the NHS was better. Just because one might complain about creeping privitisation and be against tax breaks for private health scheme premiiums for example does not mean one would not use private health if one could afford it for a family member.

    Family before principle anytime as long as within the law and even then in extreme breaking the law if not significant.

  6. Peter C (4:56)

    I’m not usually a fan of lengthy posts, but that seems a good summary, and makes a pleasant change to the petty bickering we sometimes get on here.

    Jim Jam
    it’s the hypocrisy which offends many people.

  7. ToH,

    Re ”It’s a very clear choice. It’s either vote for the deal or leave the EU without a negotiated deal”.

    Is this tenable?

    I suspect that if the deal is voted down due to Tory rebels being enough to compensate for DUP and possible Labour rebels a vote of confidence might be called and bizarrely supported by the Governments itself subsequently under FPTA a GE could ensue.

    I believe some in Labour circles are preparing for a possible GE in spring 2019 on this basis.

  8. Sadly Mays announcement sees us firmly stuck in the fast lane going in the wrong direction.

    Not that we are leaving, the referendum sorted that, but the direction started by Cameron where what should have been a national decision made in the national interest ideally commanding strong cross party support has become an increasingly narrow party one.

    If Cameron had taken our place in the EU to Westminster and let MP’s decide what changes the UK wanted his position would have been much stronger but instead after too long he came up with his own narrow version.

    There was either going to be a renegotiated EU deal without much of what many on the left and Liberals liked, or no EU.
    No Royal Commission to take evidence to genuinely find out what parts we did or didn’t value, just what Cameron thought he could get his party to back or Brussels to allow.

    Now we are Leaving is there any real attempt to create a consensus as to what we want. Nope, it’s “A Beacon of Free Trade” and take it or leave it.

    If find it ironic that quite a few in the Country and on here on the one hand want those who voted to remain to accept the result and get behind it putting their efforts into making it work while and the same time backing a Government line which seems designed to minimise their input in shaping the deal.

    Sort of the best way forward is to accept defeat and offer blind obedience to whatever the victor decides… kind of the Vichy Option!

    and you wonder why some prefer The Maquis!



    Just before people go over the top, I am clearly not suggesting any similarity between this Government and the Nazi’s.

    Rather than you do not unite a Country by expecting an opposing minority to endorse a new direction without being invited to help shape it.

  9. @TOH – “If I recall at the end of WW2 Germany was totally defeated and broken up into zones administered by the Allies. Is that what you meant?”

    No – I was thinking more along the lines of five years later we were bankrupt and back in Europe! :)

  10. @PC – Quite so. It’s a terrible way to take the country forward, and will mean, without a doubt, that the Conservatives will own forevermore whatever flows from this.

    If, as I think likely, it will be far more painful with far fewer rewards than promised, they will have an interesting time explaining the outcome to their electors.

  11. @Mr Jones et al

    Re: Productivity conundrum

    Another aspect to consider is impact on productivity of cuts to infrastructure spending announced by the coalition on taking power.

    (The article also makes the case that a big reason for the continuing deficit is costs going up due to healthcare and pensions requirements of older peeps which tend to be ringfenced…)

  12. This might give some pause for thought…

    “Research using British Social Attitudes Survey data taken from 1985-2012, found greater appetite among young people for right-wing policy-making on issues including wealth redistribution, welfare and crime.

    The study, by academics at the University of Sheffield and the University of Southampton, discovered a shift further to the right with each of the last three successive generations.

    The research team attributed the effects to generations of people “coming of age” under “sustained periods of Conservative government”, during which time they “absorb” right-wing values.

    Those aged 41 – 58 today, who grew up while Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, or “Thatcher’s Children”, were found to have more right-wing views than the generation before.

    Subsequently, those aged 27 – 40, or “Blair’s babies”, who came of age while New Labour were in power, were found to have moved even further to the right.

    Evidence from the British Social Attitudes Survey showed that the proportion of the electorate agreeing that “governments ought to redistribute income” had fallen from 45 per cent in 1987 to 36 per cent in 2009, while the proportion saying “government ought to spend more on benefits” fell from 55 per cent in 1987 to 27 per cent in 2009, the study says.”

  13. This bit is worth noting…

    “One of the paper’s authors, Professor Stephen Farrall of the University of Sheffield told The Independent: “Blair did not really challenge the kind of discourse which Thatcher had set up. Remember his quote about being “quite relaxed about people getting rich”.

    “Our take is that the younger generations have become increasingly socially and economically liberal.”

    He added: “They’re much less concerned about religious beliefs or whether you’re gay, lesbian or straight, which people were previously more concerned about. They are much more accepting of diversity, but they are also much more accepting of economic inequality.”

    But they think it might be different for Millennials…

  14. And while we’re at it, this will please Alec!!!…

    Anthony Wells, YouGov’s Research Director, told The Independent: “Either by luck or by design, Jeremy Corbyn seems to have picked the course of action that will be best in keeping Labour together.

    “Normally the criticism of Corbyn and his allies is that they are ideological purists who act on principle and [think] ‘to hell with Labour supporters’, but actually if you look at this it’s the other way round.

    “It is Labour pro-Europeans who want to stand up and fight it and refuse to vote for Brexit who are the ones risking driving a further wedge between Labour and its working class support.

    “It’s not what you expect from Jeremy Corbyn to go down the consensual route rather than the decisive one but that seems to be what he has done.

    Labour’s current policy “will probably do the least damage”, he added, saying: “Jeremy Corbyn has actually got it right.”

  15. Carfrew,

    There is of curse an alternative explanation, in that far from moving to the right, issues like redistribution had dropped down the political agenda because previous generations had done all the heavy lifting.

    I suspect redistribution was far more in the minds of generations that could remember;

    Not being able to afford the Doctor, parents who talked with fear about the Work House and having t apply to the parish for poor money, no proper pensions, few tenants rights let alone owning a home, having to do a moonlit flit or hiding behind the couch from the Rent Man.

    My sons 16 and has never gone hungry in his life.

    It wasn’t till after I was married and we found ourselves with literally nothing to eat one night and no money that I realised something…..

    As a child in a family of five growing up in the East End of Glasgow I remember my Mum or Dad saying he’d got chips on the way home and being really envious because we never got chips…

    They hadn’t got chips; there just wasn’t enough food for us all.


  16. JIM JAM

    “Is this tenable?”

    I always thought this would be the governments position and of course technically we will be outside the EU by the end of March 2019 assuming article 50 is triggered by the end of March this year. I cannot imagine parliament voting the deal down under these circumstances.

  17. @PeterCairns.

    You make a most important point. People who have never experienced or seen real poverty, do not appreciate the importance of dealing with it in public policy.

    But poverty can be real, not just relative.

  18. Carfew – yes most LP people I know whether JC supporters or not recognise the very difficult situation he and the party are in re Brexit and feel he has done the best he could in such circumstances.

    Actually – this is helping heal the divisions from last years contest and ‘rebels’ will be tolerated and then the party moves on.

  19. @Peter Cairns (SNP)
    Excellent posts tonight, thank you.

  20. Alec
    “It tells the tale of a beaten and humiliated British army withdrawing in dissaray from the beaches of northern France after a swift and relentless crushing by the mighty German forces.”

    I shall look forward to seeing as my father was in the BEF and rescued from Dunkirk, on or around his 21st birthday. If any army was humiliated it was the French and their ‘invincible’ Maginot line.

    That so many British, including my father were rescued said a lot about the British spirit in the face of adversity. Of course, if people had heeded the warnings from Churchill throughout the 1930’s, …………

  21. uymonde,

    “Excellent posts tonight, thank you.”

    Time to spoil all that!


  22. @Peter C

    Yes, it takes a while for the unwinding of the post war settlement to work through. Property prices will also have softened things for those able to buy cheap. In the Telegraph at the weekend it was in about how much parents and grandparents fork out for their kids and grandkids now, tens of thousands, by leveraging equity in property etc.

    But as the article suggests, Millennials may not be feeling the pinch rather more, or at least looking at a tricky future, and hence feel a bit differently.

  23. Correction – Millennials may be feeling the pinch rather more…

  24. @Jim Jam

    Yes, hadn’t really thought about how it might heal divisions but now that you mention it can see it might…

  25. Peter

    Scotland led by McCanute!

    Good posts but take issue with your Blackadderish view of the Somme. Yes it was a bloodbath in a war of bloodbaths but over the months of the battle an increasingly professional Brtish Army bested the Germans who due to it and Verdun were so weakened that defeat in hindsight was inevitable for them.Unfortunately they didnt see it that way at the time!

  26. As battles seem to be in vogue tonight may i offer posters the following:

    original referendum 74/75 versus Brexit 2016


    Battle of Hastings (The conquerer and Euro mercenaries) versus the Battle of Tinchebrai (1106) when a mainly English army trounced the Euro army in the return match.How the sons of the Housecarls left at Stanford bridge (i Know!) must have enjoyed that.

  27. S Thomas,

    “but over the months of the battle an increasingly professional Brtish Army bested the Germans who due to it and Verdun were so weakened that defeat in hindsight was inevitable for them”

    Where as simply locking them in and starving them out would have forced them to try and breakout, suffering more than we did or to eventually give in when they ran out of food, fuel and men.


  28. Peter

    I think you are confusing the battle of the Somme with something you read in the Famous Five books!

  29. With the defeat tonight of amendment 110 the euro light is extinguished.If it had been passed it would hav ebeen impossible to remove IMHO and would almost inevitably have stopped Brexit.

    1. The gvt would have been required to put a no deal to parliament;

    2. The EU negotiators would know that Parliament would reject no deal:

    3, The Gov in those circumstances could not politically reopen negotiations:
    4. TM would have had to call a general election;

    5.Any result would be a vote subsequent to the referendum and capable of analysis that the will of the people had changed;

    6.IMHO Brexit would be no more.

    That is why the remainers congealed around this. The last Hurrah! but now lost due to a disciplined and well whipped tory `party (osborne excluded for a number of reasons!)

  30. S THOMAS

    @”Scotland led by McCanute!”

    The water rose to ankle height this evening :-)

  31. Noo Fred

  32. Scotland is headed to a second independence referendum in autumn 2018 or Spring 2019. All parties bar the Tories voted against triggering article 50.

    Scotland will likely be in EFTA or EU as an independent member around the time rUK leaves EU. I am really excited about the goings on in WM & Holyrood, because it makes Scottish independence inevitable. I never thought WM would be a stupid as they have been. From EVEL to the anti-Scottish GE15 campaign to the watered down Scotland Bill, to the EURef and Brexit pushing Scotland to the UK Exit. Ian Murray the last Labour MP in Scotland laments that WM Tories are doing more to ‘destroy the UK’ than the SNP.

    If we look behind the headline poll numbers:

    30% Yes/Remain v 20 No/Leave

    Yes starts with a 10% lead. The other 50% divide into 15% Yes/Leave & 35% No/Remain:This is the 50% which will be fought over in the campaign. The YouGov poll shows that Scots believe they will be worse off, the economic risk of staying in the U.K. will attract the risk adverse No/Remain to Indy. If it proves difficult to get the Yes/Leave back onside then EFTA membership is a compromise option.

    I am not sure what NI will end up deciding but I a fairly certain Scotland will be independence in a few years.

  33. As Hofstede was mentioned earlier. Well, ever since McSweeney’s article in Human Relations in 2003 everybody knows that it is completely flawed (the journal gave the opportunity to Hofstede to respond, but he declined), bordering on quackery. In consultancy it is still used as everybody has heard of it, and as there are numbers, so nice graphs can be drawn. (actually in the 1980s it was said in an article by Kogut and Singh that it is wrong, but as it is full of numbers regression functions can be created).

    Since the original article is behind paywall, here is an extended version.

  34. This poll says a lot about people’s vacuous attitudes to the NHS and public spending in general.

    People are against an increase in Income Tax to fund the NHS unless that increase is confined to a 1% rise from 20% to 21%, in which case they are in favour of it.

    But the recent £8 Billion increase in NHS spending alone announced by George Osborne is far more the amount a 1% rise in Income Tax would have raised anyway, as has been nearly every one of the regular increases in NHS spending ever announced.

    The money raised from a 1% increase in Income Tax is a drop in the ocean of the NHS. If the NHS’s issues were solvable by spending the sum of money capable of being raised from a 1% increase in Income Tax the Government would do it tomorrow and raise the tax some other way or cut something else. We spend a total of FIVE TIMES the tax revenue available from a 1% rise in Income Tax on our Net EU Contribution, and Overseas Aid, as it is.

    The NHS regularly gobbles up more than this sum of money, in annual increases, and would do the same with such a small sum before moving on to its next crisis. Handing it a one of extra increase like this on top of its existing budget would result in the money disappearing altogether It doesn’t even spend the money it gets on patients. It spends 30% of its existing budget on paying pensions to people who no longer work for it, and who have paid nothing like he necessary contributions into the fund to pay the pensions. Many of these pensioners are receiving more in pension payments from the NHS budget, than the people whom these pollsters are asking if they would like to to pay the extra 1% Income Tax actually earn.

    This all reminds me of Paddy Ashdown’s ‘policy’ in the run up to the the 1997 General Election, that the Lib Dems would but ‘a penny on Income Tax’ to ‘fund Education’. The Blair Government duly came to power with its’ ‘Education Education Education’ slogan and raised spending on Education by more than the ‘penny on Income Tax’ Paddy had in mind without actually raising Income Tax. That appeared to disappoint the sanctimonious Paddy, as the rise in Income Tax was more at front of his ‘policy’ than was actually spending it on Education. So was the last we heard from Paddy on the subject.

    It leaves me with the impression that all the politicians are interested in is thinking up tax increases for the sake of it and then fumbling around trying to find something to spend it in. The lie behind the scam being that we can have all sorts of goodies in exchange for a miniscule increase in tax.

    They would be better off running these public services properly, not scheming to waste as much money on them a possible and misleading the public into believing that they get vast rewards, in exchange for peanuts. If these pollsters told the public what the cost of the 1% increase would be to them personally (i.e between zero and about £340 or so a year), depending on how much they earned, and how little (i.e. probably nothing), they would get for the extra tax, more than 90% of the public would be against it.

    The encouraging thing in these polling findings is the increasing number of people who are cottoning on to all this. It wasn’t so long ago that of if you asked te public if they would like to pay more Tax to spend on the NHS, it was thought to be a ‘no brainer’.

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