The public supports government intervention to help people through the cost of living crisis on a scale similar to how it acted during the coronavirus pandemic, research shows.

Support for higher taxes and public spending is relatively high, while concerns about inequality have also risen, according to a report by the National Center for Social Research (NatCen).

Its 2021 British Social Attitudes Survey consisted of 6,250 interviews with adults in Britain between September and October last year.

More than half (52%) of the public said the government should raise taxes and spend more on health, education and social benefits by the end of 2021, up from 50% during the pandemic and 53% in 2019 .

Recognition of inequality in Britain is at a level not seen since the 1990s

Gillian Prior, NatCen

This includes 46% Conservative supporters and 61% Labor supporters.

NatCen said the public appears to have come to terms with the higher spending and taxes “bequeathed” by the coronavirus pandemic, and “may well be in the mood to accept that action of a similar magnitude” must be taken during the pandemic. cost of living crisis.

He added that the public might well expect any measures taken to take into account the impact on those less fortunate.

Its report found that almost half (49%) now agree that the government should redistribute income from the better off to those less well off, up ten percentage points from 2019 and the highest proportion since 1994.

About a quarter (27%) disagreed with this statement.

(PA graphics)

(PA graphics)

He also found that there are greater differences in attitudes between London and the rest of the country than between the North and the South, with the capital being more welfare-friendly and socially liberal.

It found little difference in attitudes towards social spending – with 37% of people in the north expressing favorable views of social protection compared to 35% in the south.

But as many as 47% of people in London could be classed as pro-welfare, compared to 30-37% elsewhere.

Gillian Prior, Deputy Chief Executive of NatCen, said: “Our annual survey suggests that the public is facing the ‘cost of living crisis’ with as much appetite for increased public spending as during the pandemic.

“Recognition of inequality in Britain is at a level not seen since the 1990s, with people more willing than a decade ago for the government to redistribute income from the better off to the less well off.”

The extensive investigation also revealed:

– Britain is more polarized than ever on Scottish independence.

– For the first time, more people want a proportional representation electoral system for elections to the House of Commons than want to continue to vote as it is.

– Culture wars issues of identity, immigration and equality have the potential to rekindle the Brexit divide, with Remainer and Outgoing voters having differing views. But most of the time, the public has more socially liberal views.

– Satisfaction with the NHS hit a 25-year low in 2021, with long waiting lists identified as a major barrier to getting care. But he found that support for a free, publicly funded health service remains strong.

– The public is in principle more committed to equal opportunities for people with disabilities than it is for some other minority groups, but some are not always happy with the idea that they might have to work with a disabled person, in particular a person with a mental disorder.

Our survey results certainly suggest why Britain might appear divided, shaken and ‘broken’

Sir John Curtice, NatCen

NatCen senior fellow Sir John Curtice said the new government “faces a particularly formidable challenge in bringing Britain together”.

He said: “The results of our survey certainly suggest why Britain might appear divided, shaken and ‘broken’.

“There is a general belief that the health service is not providing the timely service that people need and expect.

“Support for leaving the UK has grown in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and how Britain should be governed has become much more of a divisive issue.

“A new divide on attitudes towards welfare and social issues has opened up between the capital and the rest of the country.

“And divisions over ‘culture war’ issues could potentially become part of our politics, helping to perpetuate the Brexit divide.”