Economic optimism rises in Britain but Rishi Sunak's Tories not getting credit for it - new poll

 (Toby Melville/PA Wire)
(Toby Melville/PA Wire)

Economic optimism is rising in Britain but Rishi Sunak’s Tories do not appear to be getting any credit yet for the uplift, a new poll reveals.

The Ipsos survey for The Standard showed 33 per cent of adults expect the country’s economic conditions to improve in the next year, 37 per cent to get worse, and 25 per cent “stay the same”, giving an Economic Optimism Index of -4 for May.

The figures are noticeably better than in April when 21 per cent thought there were be an economic improvement, 52 per cent a deterioration, and 21 per cent “stay the same”,  an EOI of -31.

The findings follow the Tories’ May 2 elections drubbing but also after official figures more recently from the Office for National Statistics showed GDP (gross domestic product) jumped by 0.6 per cent in the first three months of the year, as the economy pulled out of the shallow recession at the end of last year.

Average wages have also risen in real terms for the tenth month in a row, though, unemployment nudged up to 4.3 per cent in the first quarterof 2024.

Despite the better economic data, the Conservatives are on a near record low of just 20 per cent in Westminster voting intentions, up one point on April.

Labour is on 41 per cent, down three points, but still 21 points ahead of the Tories.

The Liberal Democrats are on 11 per cent, up two points, Green Party also 11 per cent, up two points, and Reform UK nine per cent, down four points.

Just 17 per cent (up one point) are satisfied with the way Rishi Sunak is doing his job as Prime Minister, with 72 per cent dissatisfied (down three points), with his net rating of -55 narrowly above his record low of -59 last month.

Three quarters (73 per cent) of Britons believe it is “time for change” at the next general election, up from 69 per cent in January and the highest level for over a year.

Two thirds of the country disagree that the Conservative government deserves to be re-elected (66 per cent) and also that “competent” is an accurate description of the current government (68 per cent), up by six points and four points respectively since January.

Eighty-one per cent of adults are dissatisfied with the Government’s performance running the country, down three points from April, with 12 per cent satisfied, up two points.

Even among Conservative supporters, just 31 per cent are satisfied, with 58 per cent dissatisfied.

Tory backers are split over Mr Sunak, with 48 per cent satisfied, down three points, and 42 per cent dissatisfied, up five points.

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos, said: “The Conservatives may be encouraged that the improvement in economic optimism this month will bolster their argument the British economy has turned a corner. But the danger signs still overshadow these shoots of hope.

“Rishi Sunak may feel rising economic optimism is a necessary condition of improving the Conservatives’ fortunes - but it may not be a sufficient one.”

Thirty-two per cent of all adults are satisfied with Sir Keir Starmer, up seven points, with 50 per cent dissatisfied, down six points, giving a net score of -18, compared to -31 in April.

The improving results for the Labour leader are mirrored among supporters of the party, with 60 per cent satisfied, up nine points, 28 per cent dissatisfied, down ten points, a net satisfaction of +32, compared to +13 in April.

Twenty-two per cent of adults are satisfied with Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, up four points, 38 per cent dissatisfied, down two points, giving him a net score of -16, compared to -22 last month.

Optimism that the economy will improve has increased among nearly all groups but remains higher among men than women, by 38 per cent to 29per cent, older than younger people (40 per cent of 55+ compared to 27 per cent of 18-34s), and owner occupiers compared to renters, 37 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

* Ipsos interviewed 1,008 adults in Britain by phone between May 8 and 14. Data are weighted. Full details can be found at