Happy New Year? Britons among the most pessimistic in the world

The British are entering the new year in a gloomier frame of mind about their finances and job security than the citizens of most other industrialised countries, an international poll has discovered.

Just one in six people predict they will be better off by the summer, while three-quarters said they were worrying more about the threat of unemployment or being able to afford a big purchase such as a house or car.

The survey of 24 countries found that the British are among the most pessimistic in the world when they were asked about the prospects. The findings will heighten ministers' fears that the downbeat national mood could make it harder for the country to recover from the economic downturn.

Only 17 per cent told Ipsos MORI that they expected their financial position to improve in the next six months – half the number in Australia (35 per cent) and the United States (34 per cent) and behind Germany (29 per cent). Britons displayed a fraction of the optimism of the citizens of the rapidly-growing economies of Brazil (91 per cent), India (69 per cent) and China (51 per cent). The only countries with lower scores were Belgium (16 per cent), Italy (13 per cent), Japan (11 per cent) and France (8 per cent).

The rising dole queues – and wide predictions of growing unemployment in 2011 – are reflected in the 73 per cent of Britons who said they felt less secure in their jobs than six months ago. Just 27 per cent said they expected their job security to improve – 17th out of 24 in the international table.

Seventy-five per cent said they felt less comfortable when making a major purchase than they would have done six months ago. Some 45 per cent described their financial position as weak, with only 26 per cent believing it to be strong.

The British also expressed deep disquiet about the health of the property market. Less than one-third (32 per cent) said they thought the next month would be a good time to buy a house – 20th in the league table and the lowest proportion of any European nation.

By a margin of more than two to one (70 to 30 per cent) Britons said they feared the country was heading in the wrong direction. Asked what issues worried them most, 45 per cent said unemployment and jobs, 40 per cent said immigration and 30 per cent said crime and violence.

Immigration was named as a cause for concern by more Britons than the citizens of any other country, with only Australia (33 per cent) coming close and more than double the level of concern in Germany (19 per cent) and France (11 per cent).

Ashish Prashar, a spokesman for Ipsos MORI, said: "There are signs that suggest the recovery isn't going to be smooth sailing. Economic pessimism is still high and very few people agree that it is a good time to buy property. It will be vital to convince people to spend money and to get the housing market moving to ensure that there isn't a double-dip recession.

"Also, at times when unemployment is high and people are worried about being able to find jobs, it is understandable that immigration is a concern. With almost 600,000 immigrants entering the UK each year it is going to be a bigger issue here than in many other countries."

Money Worries

Percentage who feel their personal finances will be stronger in six months

Brazil 91%

India 69%

Argentina 60%

Indonesia 59%

Mexico 56%

South Africa 55%

China 51%

Saudi Arabia 48%

Turkey 41%

Canada 38%

Sweden 38%

Russia 37%

Australia 35%

US 34%

Germany 29%

South Korea 28%

Poland 26%

Spain 26%

Hungary 23%

UK 17%

Belgium 16%

Italy 13

Source: Ipsos

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Life and Style
A general view during the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Earl's Court exhibition centre on 2 December, 2014 in London, England
fashionIt's not all about the catwalks: the big changes of the past year can be summed up in six clothing items
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?