One in four employed Britons concerned they might lose their job

Latest public opinion study in Britain reveals job insecurity and strong public support for the use of local lockdowns to tackle COVID-19.
12 August 2020
August Britain Barometer
Luke Taylor

Head of Opinion Polling, Public Division, UK

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Our latest monthly barometer on British public opinion and voting intentions reveals high levels of job insecurity for Britons, continuing strong public support for the use of local lockdowns to tackle COVID-19 outbreaks, and a majority of the public backing the reopening of schools in September, even if it means other non-essential places would have to close.

Other key findings from Kantar’s research, which took place between 6 and 10 August, include:

  • Job insecurity remains high, with 42% (+5 vs July*) of those working believing their job is less safe than it was 12 months ago. 43% (-2) of those working say their job security is much the same as 12 months ago.     
  • Looking to the future, two thirds (65%, no change) of those working think that their job is very/somewhat secure in the period to the end of 2020, with 26% (-1) saying it is not at all/not very secure.
  • 82% (+1) of people approve or strongly approve of the government using local lockdowns to tackle outbreaks of coronavirus, and 69% (-2) think that they will be fairly/very effective. However, people aged 25-34 are most likely to say that they think local lockdowns will be very/fairly ineffective at 30%, compared to 20% for the population as a whole.
  • There has been a drop in the proportion of Britons who think that the pace at which the government is adjusting restrictions to everyday life is a bit or much too fast, from 47% in July to 33% in August. 25% now think it is a bit/much too slow, up from 19%. 31% think the government have got it about right (+5).
  • 67% of people agree or strongly agree that it is important that schools open again fully in September, and 60% of people agree or strongly agree that the government should prioritise re-opening schools even if this means restaurants, pubs or other non-essential shops would have to close.
  • Four in ten (41%, no change) say they ‘definitely’ plan to get vaccinated if a coronavirus is developed, compared to 26% (-2) who say ‘probably’.

Economic impacts and expectations

Overall, expectations for the economy and the personal impacts remain gloomy:

  • Over seven in ten (72%, -2) state that they think Britain’s economy is doing worse than 12 months ago.
  • Around a third (32%, -2) report that coronavirus has reduced their personal income. Of that group, 19% expect this reduction to be permanent (-6). 34% (+8) think it will return to normal within a few weeks or months and 40% (+4) think their income will return to normal, but it will take more than a few months. 7% don’t know (-6).
  • More than a quarter state that they are finding it harder to meet their monthly household budget compared to 12 months ago (28%, -2).

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 continuing reduction in the proportion that think the economy will be doing worse in 12 months’ time: 38%, compared to 41% in July, 43% in June, 48% in May and 50% in April.

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:

  • 45% (-2) think that the government are placing too much emphasis on protecting the country’s economy and not enough on protecting people’s health, compared to 14% (-1) who think the emphasis is too much on health over economy. 25% think they have got the balance about right (no change).
  • Over three in four people (76%, -6) are very/fairly concerned that there will be a second wave of coronavirus infections in the UK.
  • Public perception of how the UK government is handling the crisis remains poor, with over half of people (56%, +3) stating that they think the government is handling the coronavirus outbreak very/fairly poorly. Fewer than four in ten (39%, no change) think that the government are handling it very/fairly well.
  • Less than half (46%, -4) of the public now rate the government’s communication of information about COVID-19 as very/fairly good.
  • 55% of people agree/strongly agree that the government should stockpile food and medicine in preparation for a potential second wave of coronavirus infections.

Voting intentions

  • Conservative 42% (-3 vs July 2020)
  • Labour 35% (nc)
  • Liberal Democrats 8% (-1)
  • SNP 6% (+1)
  • Green 3% (+1)
  • The Brexit Party 3% (+1)
  • UKIP 1% (nc)
  • Plaid Cymru 1% (nc)
  • Other 1% (nc)

*A representative sample of 1,131 adults in Great Britain were interviewed between 9 and 13 July. All interviews were conducted as online self-completion with Kantar online access panel as the main sample source. More information can be found here.

Methodological information

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

A total of 1,161 interviews were conducted online among adults living in Great Britain between 6th and 10th August 2020. All interviews were conducted as online self-completion. The Kantar online access panel was the main sample source.

The data was weighted to match population totals for age, gender, 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.


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