Discussions around the country

To find ways forward on the big challenges facing the country, we need to explore with each other what we agree on, and what we disagree on. Polling work with BritainThinks showed that we as a nation think health and care and opportunities for struggling families were the country’s most important concerns, and immigration was our most divisive.

So we travelled the country to understand what’s driving this – talking to individuals, pulling together groups of people for a chat and, eventually, holding some more formal discussions to see what everyone thought.

Almost everyone we spoke recognised the pressures on our health and care services and knew they would only increase as we have an ageing population. It became clear that we’re deeply attached to the promise of free care at the point of use, but we know we all have to chip in to make that possible. The disagreements begin when we start to think about who should be paying and how.

We see health and care as being part of the deal we made as a society – that we’d care for each other from cradle to grave. We know how the treatments provided by the NHS are funded. But we’re less clear how the care we receive as we approach the end of life is structured and funded. There’s a disconnect, and – as Covid-19 proved – that’s causing dangerous problems.

When it comes to poverty and opportunity, we’re increasingly aware of the signs of hardship, from street homelessness to foodbanks. We’re afraid that this is getting worse and we’re not happy living in a society where that’s happening. We generally agree on the opportunities that are needed – skills, jobs, training, help with childcare.

Immigration was the most divisive of the three themes – so divisive that people were wary about discussing the topic. While there were different views about what our priorities should be for a future immigration system, there was widespread (although not uniform) support for us having greater control – whether that meant controlling skilled immigration or ensuring the fair treatment of refugees.

If you want to know more, you can read the full report here.