More than 8 in 10 think UK should prioritise health and wellbeing of citizens over GDP during coronavirus crisis
Over 6 in 10 think UK should prioritise improved social and environmental outcomes over GDP when pandemic is over
London, 11 May 2020 – Little more than 1 in 10 (12%) Britons think the UK should prioritise economic growth over the health and wellbeing of citizens amid the covid pandemic, according to polling from research and campaign group Positive Money, released today.
The online polling, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Positive Money, asked 2,061 GB adults whether the UK should prioritise economic growth or the health and wellbeing of citizens during the coronavirus crisis. More than 8 in 10 (82%) said the UK should prioritise the health and wellbeing of citizens, while just over 1 in 10 (12%) opted for economic growth, with 7% saying they don’t know.
Respondents were also polled on whether the UK should prioritise more economic growth or improved social and environmental outcomes (such as life expectancy, education and lower carbon emissions) when the covid pandemic is over. More than 6 in 10 (61%) opted for improved social and environmental outcomes, while fewer than a third (31%) chose more economic growth, with 8% saying they don’t know.
The polling comes ahead of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishing its first estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth from January to the end of March on Wednesday, which is expected to show the dramatic impact of emergency public health measures on UK growth.
A report published by Positive Money on Monday calls for the ONS to stop publishing GDP stats and instead place more emphasis on a wider dashboard of social and environmental indicators to help save lives and the environment. Titled the ‘Tragedy of Growth’, the report puts forward a range of policies which could help increase wellbeing without GDP growth, such as a universal basic income funded by newly created central bank money, higher taxes on the wealthy, and cancellations or reductions of household debt.
Fran Boait, executive director of Positive Money, said:
“As economic growth continues to fall politicians will come under increased pressure to ease emergency public health measures, based on the misguided belief that lower GDP in itself will do more damage than the actual coronavirus.
“It’s clear the vast majority of the public think we should worry more about people’s health and wellbeing than economic growth. The government must not be tempted to pursue policies that would boost GDP at the expense of lives, wellbeing and the environment.
“With the coronavirus crisis hitting after a decade of anaemic economic growth, we are heading towards a ‘post-growth’ economy whether we like it or not. We have a choice of whether this will mean mass unemployment, deepening inequality and lower quality of life for all, or whether we want to ensure that people are able to live longer, happier lives while avoiding catastrophic climate collapse.”
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2061 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st – 4th May 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
The polling questions were as follows:
Q1. Thinking about the current situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19)…If you had to choose, which ONE of the following do you think the UK should prioritise more? (Please select the option that BEST applies)
<1> The economic growth of the UK – 12%
<2> The health and wellbeing of UK citizens – 82%
<3> Don’t know – 7%
Q2: Now imagining when the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is over…If you had to choose, which ONE of the following do you think the UK should prioritise more? (Please select the option that BEST applies)
<1> More economic growth – 31%
<2> Improved social and environmental outcomes (e.g. life expectancy, education, lower carbon emissions, etc.) – 61%
<3> Don’t know – 8%
‘The Tragedy of Growth’ will be launched with an online webinar featuring contributions from Committee on Climate Change chair Lord Deben, Labour MP Clive Lewis and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, 12.30-2pm BST on 11 May. To attend, please register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-end-of-growth-should-our-covid-19-recovery-prioritise-gdp-growth-tickets-103799256370
More information on Positive Money’s report can be found here: https://positivemoney.org/
2020/05/stop-publishing- growth-stats-to-save-people- and-planet-report/
Positive Money campaigns for a money and banking system which supports a fair, democratic and sustainable economy. Set up in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Positive Money is a not-for-profit company funded by charitable trusts and foundations, as well as small donations from its network of over 65,000 supporters. www.positivemoney.org
To see a full breakdown of the polling, to book an interview with a spokesperson, or for any other questions, please contact Simon Youel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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