Poll shows public thinks Brexit and NHS are most important issues facing the country

10 January 2020
What was claimed

A survey found almost three quarters of voters believe social care should be a high priority for the government.

Our verdict

Correct, though the survey was of UK adults, not just voters. The list of issues respondents were asked about was also far from comprehensive. Other polling shows Brexit and the NHS are the most important issues to the public overall.

“An overwhelming majority of voters want Boris Johnson to take urgent action to fix the social care crisis.

“A poll found almost three-quarters believe that the issue should be a high priority for his new government.

“It was ranked top of a list of problems needing action.”

Daily Mail, 8 January 2020

Yesterday the Daily Mail reported results of a survey which found that a majority of adults want the government to make social care a high or very high priority and that it ranked above other issues.

This is all accurate, but needs some context. While social care came top in the poll, that doesn’t mean it’s the issue the British public think the government should prioritise above all others.

The survey of UK adults was conducted by research agency Opinium on behalf of think tank Bright Blue.

Respondents were asked, among other things, what level of priority they thought the government should place on social care. 32% said the government should make social care a “very high priority” and another 41% said it should be a “high priority”.

That combined score of 73% was higher than any of other issues asked about, which were: climate change, air pollution, human rights violations abroad, race and gender discrimination, integration of immigrants, childcare, universal credit and pension reform.

Now, whatever your view on the importance of these issues, this clearly isn’t a comprehensive list of the issues the government may face.

So while social care is undoubtedly seen as an important issue by the survey’s respondents, we can’t say that the public thinks the government should prioritise it above all other issues.

Although it’s a slightly different question, another pollster, Ipsos MORI, asks the British public on a monthly basis what they think are the biggest issues facing the country.

In the latest round in November 2019, the public overwhelmingly identified Brexit as the most important issue facing Britain today.

This question also differs from the one asked by Opinium because it does not prompt respondents with answer options. People can answer freely. 

When respondents were asked to name “important issues” as opposed to just the “main issue” facing the country, 57% of the public said Brexit and 54% said the NHS.

Social care for the elderly and the “aging population” was mentioned by 10% of people, below a range of other issues including education, the economy, crime, poverty and housing.

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