PwC reveals public view of armed services in latest Forces for Change survey

Published at 16:54 PM on 18 July 2016

A PwC survey has found that nearly half the public are supportive of nuclear deterrent, while a significant proportion of people remain undecided, particularly women. This finding comes in advance of Monday’s vote in the House of Commons on the renewal of Trident. 

PwC’s annual Forces for Change survey of 2,000 members of the public provides a barometer of perceptions of the threats facing the UK and the value placed upon our armed forces.

When asked whether they agree or disagree that having a nuclear deterrent contributes to the UK’s safety and stability, 48% of respondents agree, compared to 20% who disagree, and 32% who did not express an opinion. However, the split between men and women shows that 57% of men surveyed agree with the benefit of a nuclear deterrent compared to just 39% of women. 41% of women are undecided, compared to 24% of men, indicating that more needs to be done to engage with the public and with female voters in particular on the overall value and benefit of the deterrent.

Terrorism
Following the tragic attacks on the public in Brussels and Paris in the past year and the continued conflict in Syria, it comes as no surprise that the survey findings suggest increased fears around terrorist actions here in the UK.

Compared to last year, there was a 13 percentage point increase to 44% in the number of people who consider organised terror to be the biggest threat facing the UK and the large majority [87%] see the armed forces primary purpose as defending us from these kind of threats. A significant number [61%] see it as important for UK to intervene in other countries if it increase security at home.

Value
The survey finds that the majority of people [80%] value the social benefits of the forces as well - ranking natural disaster management, providing jobs and employment, and creating a highly skilled workforce as important additional responsibilities.

In terms of trust in British institutions, the Armed Forces [65%] are on a par with other highly trusted institutions, such as the NHS [67%].

It’s not all good news – younger people, who make up much of the forces target recruitment pool, are much less likely to report positive sentiments.

Communication and engagement with the public
The survey finds that the majority of those surveyed have a real desire for more information about what our armed forces do and how they spend the government funding they are given. Over two thirds say they think it is vital for them to understand what the armed forces do.

However, the report also finds that there is a perception of a lack of information sources for the general public to gain information from. Just under half [45%] of respondents say they get their information from the media, but other official sources such as social media, government media sources and politicians speeches are ranked much lower – varying from 15-20%. This suggests that the armed forces need to further modernise their approach to engagement with the public in order to raise knowledge levels and general awareness.

Roland Sonnenberg, Lead Partner for Defence, PwC commented:

“The results of the survey demonstrate that more needs to be done to engage with the public, and female voters in particular, on the case for the UK deterrent”

“We believe better understanding of public sentiment can help support a stronger relationship between the forces and the public and lead to better policy making and better defence outcomes.”

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Pippa Vaux on 07753460118 or [email protected]

About Forces for Change
Opinium Research carried out the online survey of 2,003 UK adults aged 18+ from 24th -30th March 2016. Results have been weighted to be nationally representative.

The purpose of the research was to better understand public views of the Armed Forces and some of the underlying reasons for those views – for example, do they feel more at threat than before? Do they think the military has increased or decreased in its size and scope? Do they trust the Armed Forces?

We also wanted to gain a better understanding of public perceptions of the purpose and value of the Forces, and specifically around their non-military role, including contribution to the economy.

Results were analysed by age, gender, region, ethnic background and socioeconomic group to gain a deeper understanding of how views towards the Forces vary between different subsets of the population.

About PwC
At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 208,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.


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About PwC

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 208,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details. © 2016 PwC. All rights reserved

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