Health, not immigration,
is now the UK public's
top concern

The top priority in the UK is no longer immigration, says a report published yesterday.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has compared well-being levels within the UK and the rest of Europe between 2016 and 2018.

In the spring before the Brexit referendum, 38 per cent of Britons declared that immigration was their main concern, followed by health, social security and terrorism. But two years on, a shift occurred to make health and social security more important at 33 per cent,  followed by housing, and the rising cost of living.

Meanwhile, the issues that residents in the rest of the EU cared most about – unemployment, health and social security – remained consistent.

Professor Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, believes that this is the effect of Britain’s decision to leave the EU in March this year. He said:

‘It’s obvious that people concerned about immigration believe that Brexit is going to be a way to reduce it.

‘There is a perception that Britain is getting control back of their borders so people are focusing on the traditional issues like the NHS, social security and spending.’

In the UK, there was a lower level of trust in the EU in 2018 than the average across the 28 countries of the EU (30 per cent and 42 per cent respectively).

However, people in the UK became more favourable towards EU citizens working in the UK between 2016 and 2018, despite Brexit. Support for EU workers in the UK increased by 11 percentage points.

Futhermore, of the respondents in the rest of Europe, at least half of them reported that it is a good thing for them to have the right to work in another European country.

Overall, Britons said that they felt an increase in personal well-being and positive mental health during the two-year reporting period.

Professor Snowdon added:

‘People in the UK forget that there’s some pretty miserable people out there in the EU and throughout this whole period of austerity, life satisfaction in the UK has been increasing.

‘So whether these lifestyle surveys are worthless, or we are all pretty gloomy, I don’t know – it’s probably a bit of both!’


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