Public opinions and social trends, Great Britain: 11 to 22 January 2023

Social insights on daily life and events, including the cost of living, working arrangements and well-being from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN).

This is the latest release. View previous releases

Contact:
Email Hannah White, Katie Hendry, Rhian Murphy, Tim Vizard

Release date:
27 January 2023

Next release:
10 February 2023

1. Main points

The following information is for the latest survey period 11 to 22 January 2023, based on adults in Great Britain.

  • When asked about the important issues facing the UK today, the most commonly reported issues continue to be the cost of living (93%), the NHS (89%), the economy (76%), and climate change and the environment (59%).

  • Around 9 in 10 (92%) adults reported their cost of living had increased compared with a year ago, while a lower percentage (67%) reported an increase in their cost of living compared with one month ago.

  • Around half (51%) of adults reported that they were worried (very or somewhat) about keeping warm in their home this winter (53% in the previous period from 21 December 2022 to 8 January 2023).

  • Just over three in five (62%) adults reported turning down their thermostat temperature at home, 48% turned radiators off in unused rooms, while 45% turned down radiators to reduce energy use in the last month.

  • The most common actions reported by adults because of the rising cost of living were spending less on non-essentials (66%), and using less fuel, such as gas or electricity, in their homes (59%), similar to the previous period.

  • Around one in five (19%) adults reported their travel plans had been disrupted by rail strikes in the past two weeks.

  • Between 7 to 18 December 2022 we asked working adults, with children in school, how their work would be affected by school closures caused by industrial action; around 3 in 10 (31%) reported they would have to work fewer hours, 28% reported that they would not be able to work, and the remaining 41% said their work would not be affected.

Back to table of contents

2. Important issues facing the UK

Estimates in this release are based on data collected between 11 and 22 January 2023 (the "latest period") and 21 December 2022 and 8 January 2023 (the "previous period"). Analysis is based on adults in Great Britain.

In the latest period, we asked adults what they feel are important issues facing the UK today (Figure 1). The most commonly reported issues were the same as in the previous period:

  • the cost of living (93%)

  • the NHS (89%)

  • the economy (76%)

  • climate change and the environment (59%)

Looking at the four most common options, most remained consistent with the previous period (Figure 2). However, there has been an increase, from 81%, in the proportion of adults reporting the NHS as an important issue since a similar period a month ago (7 to 18 December 2022).

Back to table of contents

3. Cost of living

Cost of living increases

In the latest period, we continued to ask adults about changes to their cost of living.

Around 9 in 10 (92%) reported their cost of living had increased compared with a year ago. Compared with one month ago, 67% reported an increase in their cost of living, a decrease from the previous period (71%). However, this is an increase from 62% when we first asked about this in the period 3 to 14 November 2021.

Reasons for cost of living increases

The most commonly reported reasons given by adults for the rise in their cost of living over the past month remained the same as in the previous period and were increases in:

  • the price of food shopping (94%)

  • their gas or electricity bills (74%)

  • the price of fuel (41%)

Actions taken because of this rising cost of living

The most common actions reported by all adults because of the rising cost of living in the latest period were spending less on non-essentials (66%) and using less fuel such as gas or electricity in their home (59%). This is similar to the previous period (65% and 59%, respectively).

In the latest period, more adults reported shopping around more (48%) and spending less on food shopping and essentials (46%), than in the previous period (44% and 41% respectively).

Adults were also taking more actions in response to the rising cost of living than at a similar point a year ago. The proportion of adults reporting these actions remains far higher than during the period 6 to 16 January 2022 (33% and 30%, respectively) (Figure 3).

In the latest period, 23% of adults reported they were using their savings, compared with 26% in the previous period. The last time this was as low as 23% was during the period 8 to 19 June 2022.

Having peaked as a cost-saving measure in August 2022 (51%), the action of cutting back on non-essential journeys in vehicles has continued to decrease, with 35% of adults reporting this during this period. The decrease can be further supported by the further ease in motor fuel inflation in December 2022, as reported on our Cost of Living Insights webpage. The summer peak could be explained by the fall in sales of fuel during the heatwave in July 2022, as shown in our Retail sales, Great Britain: July 2022 bulletin.

Worry about cost of living

Around three-quarters (73%) of adults reported being worried (very or somewhat) about rising costs of living in the past two weeks (74% in the previous period).

Keeping warm this winter

In this period, we asked adults how worried they were about keeping warm in their home this winter:

  • around half (51%) reported being very or somewhat worried (53% in the previous period)

  • around a quarter (26%) reported being neither worried nor unworried (23% in the previous period)

  • around one in five (21%) reported being somewhat unworried or not at all worried (22% in the previous period)

The level of worry during the latest and previous period may have been because of cold weather alerts (explained in this GOV.UK article).

Household finances

In the latest period, around one in six (16%) adults reported that they did not have savings (16% in the previous period). Around 1 in 14 (7%) adults reported that they had a direct debit, a standing order, or bill that they were unable to pay in the past month (8% in the previous period).

Energy bills

Just under half (46%) of adults who pay energy bills said they found it very or somewhat difficult to afford them in the latest period (46% in the previous period).

There are strong seasonal spending patterns relating to gas and electricity that may affect these results. For more information on this and recent price rises for gas and electricity, please see our latest Consumer price inflation, UK: November 2022 data release.

Actions taken to reduce energy use

We asked adults what actions, if any, they had taken to reduce their energy use. Just over three in five (62%) adults had reported turning down their thermostat temperature at home in the last month (56% reported they had been doing this for over a month). Just under half (48%) reported turning radiators off in unused rooms, while 45% of adults reported turning down radiators. Most adults reported they had taken action with only 13% reporting none of the actions applied to them.

Rent or mortgage payments

Around 3 in 10 (31%) adults who are currently making rent or mortgage payments reported that these payments have gone up in the last six months (29% in the previous period).

Of those who are currently making rent or mortgage payments, 30% reported that they are finding it very or somewhat difficult to afford these payments (28% in the previous period).

Our 9 January 2023 release How increases in housing costs impact households looks at how increasing interest rates and rental costs will affect mortgage holders and renters in 2023.

Back to table of contents

4. Personal well-being and loneliness

Personal well-being

This period, we continued to ask respondents about their personal well-being. Average levels of personal well-being were:

  • life satisfaction: 6.8 in the latest period (6.9 the previous period)
  • feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile: 7.2 in the latest period (7.2 in the previous period)
  • happiness: 6.8 in the latest period (6.9 in the previous period)
  • anxiety: 4.1 in the latest period (3.9 in the previous period)

Our Personal well-being quarterly estimates technical report provides more information on the seasonal variation associated with measures of personal well-being. You can learn more about the Measures of National Well-being from our Quality of life in the UK: November 2022 bulletin and our Measures of National Well-being dashboard.

Figure 4: Levels of personal well-being 

Adults in Great Britain, March 2020 to January 2023 
Embed code
Notes:
  1. Questions included: "Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?", "Overall, to what extent do you feel that the things you do in your life are worthwhile?", "Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?", and "Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?".
  2. These questions are answered on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is "not at all" and 10 is "completely".
  3. Base: all adults.
Download the data

.xlsx

Loneliness

A quarter (25%) of adults reported feeling lonely always, often, or some of the time in the latest period (27% in the previous period). This compares to 23% who reported this in the period 7 to 18 December 2022.

For further estimates on people's personal well-being and loneliness, including breakdowns by age, sex and trends over time, please see our Personal well-being and loneliness dataset.

Back to table of contents

5. Working arrangements

Location of work

The proportion of working adults who travelled to work at some point in the past seven days increased to 68% (49% in the previous period). Usual work and work location patterns may have been affected by Christmas and New Year holidays during the previous period.

This includes:

  • 43% who only travelled to work in the past seven days (36% in the previous period)

  • 25% who reported both working from home and travelling to work (hybrid working) in the past seven days (13% in the previous period)

Around 14% of working adults said they worked from home exclusively in the past seven days (15% in the previous period). A further 18% neither travelled to work nor worked from home (35% in the previous period).

Industrial Action

In the latest period, 45% of adults reported industrial action as an important issue in the UK today.

We continued to ask adults about the impact of rail strikes. Around one in five (19%) said their travel plans had been disrupted by rail strikes in the past two weeks. This compares with 18% reporting this during the previous period and 15% when we first asked the questions between 22 June to 3 July 2022, during a previous wave of industrial action.

Among those who reported that rail strikes had disrupted their travel plans, around half (49%) said this disruption affected their ability to take part in leisure activities (49% in the previous period). In addition, around a quarter (24%) reported they had spent more on travel as a result of the strikes (27% in the previous period).

Fewer adults reported that the strikes had caused disruption to their ability to work (8%), however this is compared with 5% in the previous period and 2% when compared with 22 June to 3 July 2022.

School Strikes

During the period from 7 to 18 December 2022, we asked among those who said they were working and had a child in a primary or secondary school, how their own work would be affected if schools closed because of strike action.

Around two in five (41%) said their work would not be affected. This compared with 31% who reported they would have to work fewer hours and 28% who reported that they would not be able to work (Figure 5).

There did appear to be differences between men and women although these were not significant. While 35% of women stated they would not be able to work compared with 20% of men, two in five men (40%) reported they would have to work fewer hours, compared with 24% of women.

Back to table of contents

7. Measuring the data

This release contains data and indicators from a module being undertaken through the Office for National Statistics' (ONS') Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN).

Breakdowns by age and sex, including confidence intervals for the estimates, are contained in our Public opinions and social trends, Great Britain datasets.

Where changes in results from previous weeks are presented in this bulletin or comparisons between estimates are made, associated confidence intervals should be used to assess the statistical significance of the differences.

Sampling and weighting

In the latest period (11 to 22 January 2023), we sampled 4,968 households. This sample was randomly selected from those who had previously completed the Labour Market Survey (LMS) or OPN. The responding sample for the latest period contained 2,825 individuals, representing a 57% response rate.

Survey weights were applied to make estimates representative of the population (based on ONS population estimates). Further information on the survey design and quality can be found in our Opinions and Lifestyle Survey Quality and Methodology Information (QMI).

Back to table of contents

9. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 27 January 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Public opinions and social trends, Great Britain: 11 to 22 January 2023

Back to table of contents

Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Hannah White, Katie Hendry, Rhian Murphy, Tim Vizard
policy.evidence.analysis@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 3000 671543