The UK is now formally, if not convincingly, out of recession. But does modest growth at the end of 2009 bode well for the immediate and long-term future? Perhaps more importantly, as the man or woman in the street plays such a key role in translating any feel-good factor into parting with cold hard cash – or credit – how optimistic do they feel? Using GlideInsight, we asked 1018 respondents from a range of ages, incomes and geographical areas across the UK to find out.
Analysts can’t agree on whether the UK economy is due to take another nose dive before it picks up again (the so-called ‘double dip’). Are our panel equally undecided? Well, no.
Overwhelmingly, the mood is pessimistic with nearly three-quarters predicting a further downturn ahead of any improvement. Most optimistic in outlook are the Midlands and Wales, with Scotland and the South and North of England taking a far more cautious line. Annual income appears to play little part in overall perception, with around 75% of all income groupings up to £80,000 per year predicting a double dip.
So far, so potentially depressing. But looking longer-term, where do our panel of respondents see the UK economy by the end of 2010? Continuing the trend, little more than one in ten see the country’s finances ending the year in a position of strong growth, though interestingly only 16% predict a descent back into recession in the next 11 months. The remaining 72% forecast weaker growth, which may be as optimistic as can be hoped in the present climate.
By region, respondents in Scotland and the North of England are nearly three times as likely to predict further recession rather than strong growth.
The Midlands, Wales and the South of England display more polarised tendencies with roughly equal numbers of respondents forecasting either strong growth or further recession in each geographical area. The 16 to 34 year old age group is split between cautious optimism and outright pessimism, with older respondents adopting a progressively gloomier stance.
Regardless of perceptions, it is clear that the political parties need to do more to engage large sections of the populace in the general dialogue.
One in four of the 16 to 34 age group is planning not to vote in the forthcoming General Election. Panel members from the Midlands and Wales display similar levels of apathy. And with more respondents across the board falling into the ‘Don’t Know’ category than expressing an allegiance to any one political party, expect the landscape to change frequently in the run up to Election Day. It’s still all to play for.