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”

1 2 3
  1. @sthomas

    I am not asserting the contrary. I was simply asking whether there is polling evidence that everybody throughout the UK thinks the same about the 4 NHS organisations.

  2. “I should have added and you did it again today as well.”

    Which is why it is called ‘Alec’s Law’. :)

  3. Saffer
    Many thanks for posting the reference to the latest Guardian/ICM Poll. The Brexit questions and answers were fascinating:-

    Impact on the British economy.
    Positive: 38%
    Negative: 43%
    No difference: 19%

    Impact on personal finances
    Positive: 12%
    Negative: 34%
    No difference: 54%

    Impact on life in Britain today in general
    Positive: 41%
    Negative: 36%
    No difference: 23%

    To summarise:
    • A majority of people think Brexit will make no difference to their personal finances, poll suggests.
    • Only 12% of people think Brexit will make them personally better off, poll suggests. A third of people think Brexit will make them worse off.
    • People are more likely to think Brexit will be good for Britain than bad for Britain, even though they are also more likely to think it will be bad for the economy than good for the economy.

    The polling numbers continue to be very bad for Labour and little changed from a fortnight ago. The interesting thing at the moment is the divergence between Opinium with a 7-8% Conservative leads and the YouGov & ICM who have regular double digit Conservative leads, approximately twice those of Opinium. That’s a big divergence!

  4. Good morning all from a bright central London…

    Well, this thread got off to a buzzing start lol.

    “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)”

    Most people would probably be able to afford this but for those who can’t then it sort of stigmatises them into being second class patients.

    As for the wider NHS “Increasing income tax to fund the NHS was rejected by 40% to 50%.”…Ok as AW pointed out Yougov asked the same question but added in a 1% increase on income tax rather than just ask for a blanket increase and this was favoured by 50%.

    Personally, I think this is the way to go but I’m not sure all of the current NHS issues are purely down to funding….

  5. Alec

    You seem in good humour this morning, very good to see.

  6. @TOH – just on current uncertainties, I was reading some views on what the impact of Trump’s policies could be. There are short term positive elements from his investment program and tax cuts boosting the US economy and potentially helping UK exporters with increased demand.

    However, his plans for a one off amnesty tax of 10% to encourage US firms to repatriate billions of dollars of overseas profits is being cited by some as a major systemic risk. Such a rapid transfer of assets is going to have major knock on effects, and many commentators are anticipating retaliatory action to prevent the large scale movement of funds out of the cuurent juristictions.

    On top of this, we’ve got the prospect of a ballooning US deficit, leading potentially to sharp increases in US rates. This won’t help Trump in battle against so called under valued foreign currencies, so how he attacks that issue is open to question.

    Trump opens up a great deal on unconventioanl uncertainties, and I think this is a major issue for Brexit.

  7. @ TOH

    “that a big divergence”

    If the raw sample numbers are not particularly different (I’ll be corrected on this I admit to not being adept at the detail) there must be a significant element in the assumptions methodology used in respect of the sample.
    If, contrarywise, the raw numbers differ so markedly then it has to be asked why would different methods of data capture (e.g. Phone/versus internet) result in such different samples being obtained.
    I would imagine that these are questions which deeply concern the pollsters constantly, because it seems to me have I got the right sample will fundamentally alter the question of how do I manipulate this sample to match the likely behaviours of the population.
    At the moment however whichever pollster you choose it ain’t good for Labour.

  8. PwC!! Who mentioned them? I went for a job interview with them at their Glasgow office about 5 years ago..Did not like…Yuck, pompous gits, rubbish pay at entry level and biggest manipulators of accounts this side of Trump’s proposed wall.

    Thankfully I found a great career with a leading expanding Glasgow owned/based company.

    Not being biased in any way ;-)

  9. Hireton

    This was not a polling point. The point was about how the British people think of the NHS.
    I don’t , from my discussions with people from across the kingdom, think people believe there is a Scottish/Welsh/English Health Service – even though matters are devolved.
    The trouble with those of a nationalist persuasion is that they are single issue obsessives – and this is , and always will be , their downfall.
    Alas, from a nationalist viewpoint, there is far more on this island that unites, rather than divides us.

  10. @ Alan Christie

    Ah Ha! exposed you are either a grey faced accountant with no imagination or silver suited business consultant as smarmy as they come; (and he’s only bloody 25 – where did the years go; sigh!)

  11. @ Jasper22

    from my reading of your posts you are a nationalist: just a UK nationalist. (glass houses and all that).

  12. @WB
    I had a quick look at the raw numbers for the Opinium poll before this one – the proportions were way off from other polls (the one I vaguely remember was LDems in Opinium raw sample were 7% where in the Mori they were 13% and YouGov were 12%).

    So I think it is something about how they access their sample compared to other pollsters – it doesn’t mean it is wrong, but it does seem to be different.

  13. Graham – I guess not too bad depends what the benchmark is?

    ToH – perhaps Economics is called the dismal science because its’ record on predicting the future is dismal.

    The Abject science sounds better to me!

  14. @ Jim Jam

    Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.

    John Kenneth Galbraith

  15. WB
    @ Alan Christie
    “Ah Ha! exposed you are either a grey faced accountant with no imagination or silver suited business consultant as smarmy as they come; (and he’s only bloody 25 – where did the years go; sigh!)”

    Ha!… ” silver suited business consultant as smarmy as they come” You got the smarmy bit right but I wouldn’t be seen dead in a silver suit. ;-) Actually not to give too much away I’m more in the HR side of things with a few risk assessments chucked in to keep me busy.

    Anyway “grey-faced and silver suits” this coming from a lawyer!! the bloody cheek of it. ;-)

  16. AND

    A study of economics usually reveals that the best time to buy anything is last year.

    Marty Allen

  17. AND Finally:
    Q: How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?

    A1: None. The darkness will cause the light bulb to change by itself.
    A2: None. If it really needed changing, market forces would have caused it to happen.
    A3: None. If the government would just leave it alone, it would screw itself in.
    A4. None. “There is no need to change the light bulb. All the conditions for illumination are in place.
    A5. None, because, look! It’s getting brighter! It’s definitely getting brighter !!!
    A5. None; they’re all waiting for the unseen hand of the market to correct the lighting disequilibrium.


  18. Jim Jam

    It is all relative of course! But I am inclined to the view that 27% from ICM would make obtaining circa 30% in a General Election a reasonable expectation.

  19. WB – nice one.

    I actually think Economics is useful and it is important for policy makers to understand what possible consequences of specific decisions or set of decisions might be. Micro-Econimics is important to business as well of course.

    It is just that whether the treasury, IMF, BOE,OBR, PWC or whoever; I have a very low expectation of the accuracy of their predictions. There are so many uhknowns and external dynamics that can affect Economies in the small world we now live in.

  20. WB

    You presume too much, sir.

    On Brexit…
    Impact on personal finances
    Positive: 12%
    Negative: 34%
    No difference: 54%

    This to me is the more fascinating indicator. It shuts off the myth or perception that we are all going to be worse off under Brexit. Gloom and doom (Sorry Alec I know you’re in a good mood today) has been trampled on.

  22. @ Jasper22

    If I am wrong then I apologise.

  23. WB the Lawyer

    What’s the difference between an accountant and a lawyer?
    A: Accountants know they’re boring. ;-)

    How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: Three, One to climb the ladder. One to shake it. And one to sue the ladder company.

    During the mid-1980s dairy farmers decided there was too much cheap milk at the supermarket. So the government bought and slaughtered 1.6 million cows. How come the government never does anything like this with lawyers?

    I rest my case…no pun intended, :-)

  24. JIMJAM

    “It is just that whether the treasury, IMF, BOE,OBR, PWC or whoever; I have a very low expectation of the accuracy of their predictions. There are so many uhknowns and external dynamics that can affect Economies in the small world we now live in.”

    Exactly so.

  25. WB

    Very amusing :-)

  26. @ Alan Christie:

    Well done: but my two favourite lawyer jokes are:

    Q: What do you get if you cross the Godfather with a lawyer?

    A: A man who makes you an offer you can’t understand.


    Lawyer: “Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?”
    o Witness: “No.”
    o Lawyer: “Did you check for blood pressure?”
    o Witness: “No.”
    o Lawyer: “Did you check for breathing?”
    o Witness: “No.”
    o Lawyer: “So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?”
    o Witness: “No.”
    o Lawyer: “How can you be so sure, Doctor?”
    o Witness: “Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.”
    o Lawyer: “But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?”
    o Witness: “Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.”

  27. Allan,

    Not sure it does shut off Alec’s notion as he has not commented on peoples expectations but rather his view of Brexit (or in particular a May template Brexit) being harmful to the UK Economy.

    A big majority of respondents believe they will be better off or as well off as a result of Brexit and those ethinking they will be worse off whilst significant is not meaningful Electorally.

    Does not mean they are right and should they be wrong (or more importantly think they were wrong) who or what will get the blame for their disappointment.

    Should things be dire in 2023/4 the battle will be who to blame; the pesky EU, Trumpanomics, the Brexit decision itself or those who negotiated the specific Brexit deal.

    (or the last Labour Government why not?)

    Personally I think 2023/4 will be too early to judge if Brexit is good or not and certainly too early to judge if the specific Brexit deal is beneficial but it wont stop politicans and media trying to in the run up to (baring a change) the 2025 GE.

    NB) If things are dire I would expect an Indy Ref#2 before 2025.

  28. @Allan Christie – “PwC!! Who mentioned them?”


    As it happens, I used to work for them in Scotland until quite recently.

    I remember about 5 years ago, I interviewed and rejected out of hand this smarmy Scotsman who reckoned he was great at the HR stuff, and…….

  29. WB

    LOL…a few chuckles there. ;-)


    I don’t think anyone can say for certain what the exact impact Brexit will have in the UK and there are no doubt some people will be disadvantaged by us leaving the EU just as fishermen and some farmers have been disadvantaged by us being part of the EU.

    However, not everyone who voted for Brexit or remain did so on a purely economic basis. Accountability and sovereignty? Yes, sir!

  30. ALEC

    “I remember about 5 years ago, I interviewed and rejected out of hand this smarmy Scotsman who reckoned he was great at the HR stuff, and……”
    And here was me thinking it was my Celtic FC tie ;-)

  31. Labour is repeating the 3 line whip on Brexit, even if the Bill is un-amended: What will Diane Abbot Do?

  32. The basic laws of physics (which I hope it is agreed, can make some accurate predictions) are generally of one of two kinds
    1. Y is impossible
    2. Total X is unchanged

    Are there such laws in economics?

  33. @aw

    A question about polling and the structure of polling costs arising from the earlier discussion about the usefulness or otherwise of UK wide polls on matters which are, in part at least, devolved with small sub samples in Scotland, Wales and NI!

    Put simply how much more would a poll cost which gave a minimum sample of 1000 in each of the four countries of the UK rather than the more standard 1,000 for GB (and occasionally UK polls)?

    Obviously that will depend on polling methodology and I suppose the question boils down to what are fixed costs (poll design and report production?) and variable cost (mainly sample size?)

    So in this instance how much more roughly might it have cost the BBC as client for Ipsos Mori to have telephoned polled 1000 people in each country and how much more if it had been on online poll?

    I just wonder how far conscious decisions are taken about where and how to poll on these sort of devolved issues based on costs or whether a GB/UK wide c1000 sample size is just a simple default option for most?

  34. WB “Labour is repeating the 3 line whip on Brexit, even if the Bill is un-amended: What will Diane Abbot Do?”

    Well Brillo will rip the piss out of her again on “This Week” whether she votes or not.

    If she votes against, her “migraine” was almost certainly tactical and she loses credibility (admittedly she’s started from an exceedingly low base there anyway) and if she votes for it she goes against her instincts and conscience. 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, so she has got form on that one.

    This is the Remainers last stand. If TM wins the 3rd Reading vote without wrecking amendments it’s game set and match for her negotiating stance. She has the power to override the Lords using an Asquith threat if necessary.

  35. @ Dave

    Perhaps some universal laws (with apologies to Newton) of economics are:

    First law: In any political reference frame, an economic policy either remains useless or continues to mess up the Chancellor’s standing, unless pounced upon by the media supporting the opposition.
    Second law: In any political reference frame, the sum of the forces of Jeremy Paxman on a Chancellor is equal to the mass media reporting multiplied by the speed at which the policy is changed.
    Third law: When a Prime-Minister ridicules a Shadow Chancellor’s policies, the Shadow Chancellor simultaneously gains a standing equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to the ridicule applied.

    Or wasn’t that what you were thinking of?

  36. A useful enquiry from Hireton just now.

  37. Lawyer Jokes,

    During our divorce both sets of lawyers bent over backwards…. that’s how leaches walk!


  38. 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:

  39. “The cost of electricity produced by offshore wind turbines has fallen by a third in just four years, according to a new report.

    The analysis, by Dong Energy and other firms, found that the average cost during 2015/16 was £97 per megawatt hour (mwh), according to the Financial Times.

    In 2012, the industry was asked by the UK Government to reduce prices to £100 per mwh within eight years, but the target has been reached in about half that time.

    ?Benj Sykes, UK manager for wind power at Dong, said: “It’s very significant.

    “Our efforts have brought the cost down way faster than we set in our own target.

    “We’ve seen other renewable technologies do this in other parts of the world, but this is the first time we can really say we expect offshore wind to be in the next decade on the same sort of cost structure as other power generators.”

    Larger turbines and better techniques for building turbines at sea has helped drive down the cost.”

  40. And for those who can’t get enough of wind turbines, like Colin…

    “Millions of lampposts could be fitted with wind turbines connected directly into the National Grid.”

    “There are around 10 million lampposts in the UK and upwards of 20 per cent of these are suitable for conversion which makes this a very scalable business opportunity with huge export potential,” he said.

    “We have already had positive preliminary discussions with UK public and private bodies and have had indications of interest from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Ireland and South Africa.

    “We believe this business has the potential to achieve an annual UK turnover of over £400m within five years.”

    Scottish Nationalist MSP Richard Lyle said: “This is marvellous news and I know from colleagues across the political divide that this project is really firing the imagination.”

  41. On laws of economics – I may be able to help on this.

    A few years ago (while I was still working for PwC, as it happens) I was asked to speak at a major conference on the general principles of economics. The conference itself was the biennial conference of the Association of Cheerily Optimistic Economists, and I was asked to provide a counterpoint in my keynote address.

    I focused on the somewhat ambitious task of providing a set of basic economic principles. The talk went extremely well, and my theories were well received, and happily have now been adopted in various highly specialised corners of the internet, as ‘Alec’s Theory of Special Economics’.

    As the title suggests, my approach was inspired in part by Einstein’s relativist approach, which enables economics to grasp multiple perspectives and numerous alternative realities simultaneously, and assimilate these into a single overarching theoretical approach to understanding economics.

    Stay with me – I’m getting there.

    There are ten principles, and I’m sure once you all understand these we can get together and have a meaningful discussion of anything in the world of economics. As follows:

    1) All actors in the economic ecosystem behave rationally.
    2) What you think is rational isn’t the same as what everyone else thinks is rational.
    3) Ergo, actors are not rational and know nothing about economics, so you should never listen to George Clooney, Bono etc when they lecture you about taxation policy.
    4) Things are always worse than they look.
    5) If things aren’t worse than they look, you are looking at the wrong things.
    6) The negative impact of wealth inequality varies in inverse proportion to your own position on the wealth spectrum.
    7) The behavioural impact of an economic incentive is defined by a point X on the income scale. Below point X, economic incentives increase with decreasing reward, while above point X economic incentives rise with increasing reward.
    8) Point X is defined in a relitavistic manner, but is always just below your own earnings.
    9) Confidence factors, rather than actual measures of monetary stocks and flows, are far more important in the understanding of economics.
    10) All economists are far too confident.

  42. @carfrew – interested in how they did the cost analysis in that report. 2015/16 was pretty windy, so if they are basing it on a single year’s output the figures might not be quite what they seem, although there is no doubt costs are falling.

    On lampost turbines – hmmm.

    In the UK, many areas are now reaching saturation point for exports, with grid connection availability serving as a real constraint. I’m sure there will be many areas where this is possible, but in more areas than people might think reasonable, plugging in such a large collective generation capacity would destabilize the grid without major and costly upgrades.

    I’m also doubtful of the efficiency. Small turbines just aren’t very efficient and economic, and because of the engineering considerations, lampost turbines would be very much on the micro scale. These would introduce costs to fit and maintain, and would shorten the life of the lamposts themselves.

    Best option would be to dim or turn off the lights themselves, in my view, and then at least we would get happier astronomers.

  43. @ Alec

    But doesn’t the economic version of Schrodinger’s Cat mean that I can have money but not spend it, or not have money and spend that which I don’t have, but not have money and spend that money.

  44. @Alec

    Dunno how they did the cost analysis, but the drive towards bigger and bigger turbines will likely see costs continuing to fall. It’s below £100 per megawatt your already, the point at which it’s competitive with typical fossil fuels is, what, £60 per kWh?

    Was aware smaller turbines much less efficient, but the impact on the grid hadn’t occured to me. Regarding turning off the lights, I recall a lively exchange between Neil A and Steve on impact on crime. Lights make it harder for crims to hide, but make it easier to see you etc.

  45. Autowrong, as someone on here aptly called it, strikes again
    megawatt your = megawatt your

    And it should be £60 per Mwh. Not kwh…

  46. Aaaarrrghh!! Why does it correct ‘hour’ into ‘your’? Hour is a word!!!!

  47. @WB – not quite – in economics the Schrodinger’s Cat scenario is the one about coming home from the pub, thinking you’ve got a £20 note left in your pocket. You have, but only until you look.

    In the New Classical Economics this is combined with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle which is something to do with being able to drink, or measure your money, but not both.

    Or something like that.

  48. @ Alec

    In Star Trek the Heisenberg compensator to deal with the Transporter, I have a wife as a compensator showing me (a) I have already had to much to drink before I start to consume any: and (b) where my money is and how little I have left despite not having consumed any drink. I am left in no uncertainty that she does not want me to drink!

  49. Re AW and the Guardian:

    He gives comfort to Corbyn that he may be steering a course that only leads to Labour losing another 2-3 % of their vote….

    But meanwhile for some reason he is whipping his MP’s into voting for Brexit (without success) and that is upsetting the Remain Labour supporters in a lot of specific constituencies like Cambridge and Cardiff Central. The experience of the Lib Dem MP’s shows that voting against your Leader on the key issue of “betrayal” does not necessarily save you..

    Also I think the Remain voters are OK with soft Brexit, but when Labour do not achieve it and they don’t like May’s hard Brexit deal they may become angry enough to go for the Lib Dems who wanted another referendum…

    Time will tell however, as always!

1 2 3