Brits blame Brexit more than Covid for public services decline, says Ipsos study

Despite Vladimir Putin’s war and the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, eight years after the vote, Brexit is among the most-cited reasons for declining public services, according to new research.

Three in four Brits believe services are worse since the last general election in 2019, research by Ipsos found.

A third (31 per cent) blamed Brexit as a cause – more than the outbreak of Covid-19 (27 per cent) in 2020.

Head of political research Gideon Skinner told The Independent: “Our latest research highlights that three-quarters of Britons believe public services have deteriorated in the past five years, with policies implemented by the Government, rising costs and poor management cited as the main reasons for this worsening, amid perennial concerns over underfunding.

“Brexit, the Covid pandemic, and staff shortages are also all seen as contributing factors – although whilst Labour and Liberal Democrat 2019 voters are more likely to blame Brexit than Covid, it is the other way around for those who backed the Conservatives at the last election.”

Across the political spectrum, government policies are the leading culprits for worsening public services in the eyes of the public (45 per cent), while four in ten respondents blamed cost pressures from inflation and poor management.

For Labour and Lib Dem voters, Brexit is believed to be the second leading cause of decline in public services, at 48 and 44 per cent respectively.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey announced today that he would push for Britain to rejoin the European single market, and eventually the EU, in a reversal of Brexit.

Meanwhile, Labour voters are most likely to believe that public services have deteriorated in the last five years, at 86 per cent, but three in four Tory voters also see a decline.

The recent Ipsos poll surveyed 5,875 individuals across Great Britain and found that satisfaction has declined for all public services in the past three years. This could affect how people vote on 4 July, said Mr Skinner.

“This is particularly important in the run-up to the general election, with the NHS especially and also education key factors in how people say they will vote, and roads and transport often important local concerns,” he said.

NHS hospitals have seen the sharpest drop in satisfaction since 2021, at 39 per cent lower, according to Ipsos, followed by GPs and train companies.

The public is most overwhelmingly dissatisfied with provision of road maintenance and repairs, with 82 per cent of respondents unhappy.

People are not happy with local councils

Half of the public are dissatisfied with their local council – another record low and twice as bad as 2021 levels of satisfaction.

Just 1 in 5 respondents are happy with the way their local council runs things, the Ipsos data found, compared to 40 per cent in 2021, and 50 per cent in 2000.

Over a longer timeframe, satisfaction among people who have used council housing has plummeted from 72 per cent satisfaction in 1998, to just 20 per cent now.

Despite discussions on barriers to buying a home from the Tories and Labour, the Lib Dems are the only party to commit to social housing since the election was announced.

Satisfaction is also dropping off for younger-stage education, the data shows, as net satisfaction with nurseries and primary schools is down by 24 per cent since 2021.

The number of teachers across nurseries and primary schools has hardly changed since 2016, according to national statistics, and in fact has slightly dropped from 222,300 teachers to 221,300 teachers in 2024.

“We know that as well as concerns over funding and staff, the public particularly wants to see improvements in the availability, speed and ease of accessing services, around their accountability, and providing a minimum standard of quality across the country”, added Mr Skinner.