World News

One in three UK households expects to need state help to weather coronavirus: survey

LONDON (Reuters) – One third of British households said they were likely to need government support within the next three months to weather the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey that reveals growing pessimism about job security and the health of the economy.

Research firm Kantar said 44% of those working believed their job was less safe than it was 12 months ago, the highest recorded measure since it began the survey in August 2011.

Confidence in the health of the British economy had also slumped since the country was put into effective lockdown in March, with 65% of people stating the economy was doing worse than 12 months ago, Kantar said on Wednesday.

Britain’s budget forecaster has said economic output could plunge by 35% in the April-June period and 2 million people could lose their jobs due to the impact of the virus.

The government has launched an economic rescue package totalling more than half a trillion dollars that includes paying up to 80% of salary costs to minimise redundancies and guaranteeing up to 80% of bank loans to small businesses.

The public widely supported intervention, the survey found, with 84% of people either agreeing or strongly agreeing that the government should help people and business affected by coronavirus, whatever the cost.

Six in 10 people said the government was handling the coronavirus crisis fairly or very well, helping boost support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives to 54%, up 4 percentage points since March, while three in 10 said it was handling it fairly or very poorly.

Craig Watkins, UK chief executive of Kantar’s Public division, said: “These findings show that there is a growing majority who believe the government is handling the crisis well and a strong public belief that supporting people and business during this time should be a priority, no matter the cost.”

Kantar interviewed 1,118 adults online between April 16 and April 20 for the survey.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Jonathan Oatis)