February 27, 2023 - 7:00am

The latest wave of polling from UnHerd Britain confirms the breadth and depth of concern about increased costs of living. 62% of the British population agree with the statement, “I worry about affording basic necessities, such as food and energy”, of which 30% agree strongly. Only 22% of the population disagree, and 15% are unsure.

Over 10,000 voters responded to the survey, conducted by FocalData; the researchers then analysed the data using MRP to produce estimates for all 632 constituencies in Great Britain (the Northern Irish constituencies are more difficult to poll in this manner, and have been excluded from the exercise).

The results reveal a cost of living map of Britain, in which the areas that are most concerned are shown to be in clear pockets: London and the Thames Estuary, South Wales, the Wash, the industrial North East and many of the so-called “red wall” seats across the North Midlands that moved from Labour to the Conservatives in recent elections.

Interestingly, the level of concern far exceeds what you might expect based on poverty or deprivation in a particular area. Voters in even the richest constituencies in the country tend to feel anxious about affording basic necessities (though perhaps their definition of a basic necessity might be different). Thus in Henley and Amersham and other affluent enclaves outside London we still found the largest group was anxious about the cost of living: 52% in the case of Amersham and 53% in the case of Henley. This compares to 73% in the most anxious constituency, Kingston upon Hull.

In Liz Truss’s constituency of South West Norfolk, 62% are anxious about cost of living, and in Boris Johnson’s constituency of Uxbridge and Ruislip the figure is 63%. Whether these former prime ministers will be blamed for the financial uncertainty their constituents now feel will become clearer at the next election.

Analysis of the results by social grade (the standard method for grouping respondents by affluence) shows that they do not vary as much as you might expect. While 64% of voters in the lowest social grades D and E are feeling anxious about affording basic necessities, so are 61% of people in the top social grades of A and B.

We also tested the statement “I want house prices to come down”, which was met with overwhelming agreement across the country. 63% of the population agree with the statement and only 14% disagree. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most dramatic driver of opinion here is age: 60% of 18-24 year olds strongly agree, compared to only 16% of over-65s.

The constituencies with the highest level of consensus about wanting a decline in house prices are central areas of the larger cities — not necessarily where house prices are highest but where younger people and those on lower incomes are struggling to make ends meet in the elevated housing market of a big city. Manchester Central, Bethnal Green and Bow, and Hackney South and Shoreditch are the top three; meanwhile, the more affluent rural areas of Penrith and the Border, North Dorset, and Berwickshire are the least certain about wanting a decline in prices.

House prices, and their connection to wealth and home ownership, have become a proxy for a struggle between the generations, where different age groups have completely opposing desires for the economy.

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