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New survey shows economy is the top concern for Brits

The economy has leaped ahead of immigration as the top concern for Brits in a new survey. A sign that public opinion can and is changing…


The economy has beaten immigration as the top concern for Brits in the latest Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions. The Business Insider  reports that 28% of respondents said that the economy was one of their top two concerns at the end of 2016. This is an increase of 12% from last year. Meanwhile, the survey showed that people were less concerned with immigration (down by 2%) and terrorism (down by 12%) compared to last year. Other concerns that also saw a rise compared to last year included rising food and fuel prices as well as political stability.

Retail Gazette has a table of Britons biggest concerns at the end of 2016 from Nielsen. And you can find Nielsen’s report on the survey at nielsen.com.

On the economy, the results show a marked change in consumer thinking. Commenting on the report, Nielsen UK managing director Steve Smith said that “as the political and economic planning for Brexit gets under way, concerns about jobs leaving the UK have unsettled consumers.”

Consumer confidence is also down since the referendum

The Nielsen report also showed that consumer confidence fell by 4 points in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to the third quarter. This is as Smith acknowledges in the report that “consumer spending continued to be the engine of GDP growth in the UK in 2016.”

However, recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that consumer spending is starting to wane now too. With the pound’s strength weakened since the referendum and inflation on the rise, it was inevitable. Whether consumer spending can still be “the engine of GDP growth” in 2017 remains to be seen. Unfortunately, it might well be all we’ve got.

Analysis for a hard Brexit

We now have a Brexit plan even if it is rather feeble. Although, there’s a lot that’s unsaid, it does seem that the direction the government is heading for is a hard Brexit with Britain having to rely on WTO rules a real possibility.

(Speaking of the ‘plan’, we think it’s best summed up by Lib Dem peer Lord Newby in the Article 50 bill debate as “a horrifying mixture of pious aspiration and complacent illusion.”)

Since we do now have a clear idea of the direction the government is willing to take us, it’s more important to have analysis about where that direction could take us. The Guardian has several reports in their Brexit Gamble series that do a good job of analysing the potential costs of a hard Brexit. Listed below, they’re worth a read:

And the Telegraph has a report fact-checking the claims that won it for Brexit, which is also worth a read.

As we move closer to the prime minister’s self-imposed deadline to invoke Article 50, this kind of analysis and reporting is more important than ever. And although Brexiteers won’t like to acknowledge it, there are signs – such as that by the Nielsen survey – that opinion is indeed changing.

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