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Synthesis 2015 > United Kingdom

United Kingdom 2015

Although the British tend to feel less vulnerable this year, they remain as deeply risk-averse as in 2013. The development of collaborative consumption in Great Britain is less spectacular than in other European countries: the British are not highly into these new practises, even if they believe that they can lead to more solidarity in society.

In Great Britain, the feeling of vulnerability has strongly decreased

Unlike the European average, only a minority of British feel more vulnerable than 5 years ago towards the risks of being plunged into a precarious situation (36%; compared to 53% on average). They are also less concerned by the possibility of losing their job (37% think the risk is higher compared to 44%). A majority of them still consider they have more risks today than 5 years ago to experience financial difficulties (52%), but this proportion is lower than the European average (59%), and this feeling has decreased compared to 2013 (-5 points compared to 2013), so as for being plunged into a precarious situation (-17 points) and for losing their job (-7 points).

Moreover, only 29% of the British consider they are less well protected against risks than 5 years ago (compared to 41% for the European average). This is the second lowest rate among the countries surveyed. 36% of the British event consider they are better protected today (compared to 33% on average) and 35% that they are “neither better nor less well protected” (compared to 26% on average).

Like other Europeans, the British consider health problems as the most worrying, followed by financial risks in 2nd position. However, computer-related risks are in 3rd position in GB while other Europeans rank this risk 8th. The British appear once again less concerned by unemployment than the average: only 24% (compared to 29% for the European average) cite the risk of unemployment among the three they find the most worrying.

The British remain however rather risk-averse

Unlike many other Europeans, most of the British do not feel they are on the path to social decline. A relative majority even consider that their social situation is better than that of their parents when they were their age (44% compared to 32% for the European average). This is the second highest rate among the countries surveyed. Only 30% (-4 points compared to 2013) think their social situation is worse (compared to 40% for the European average).

However, the British aversion to risk remained high: 58% (-1 point compared to 2013) consider risk as a danger to be avoided (compared to 60% on average). A large majority (68%; -1) also think that to be successful, it is better to be careful and not take too many risks (compared to 52% on average). Only a minority have the feeling that risk-taking is promoted in their country (41%) and this feeling has slightly declined (-2 points). The British are however a bit more keen on taking risks themselves (61% consider they are taking risks; +2 points compared to 2013, but -5 points compared to 2012).

The British do not ride the wave of collaborative consumption

In Great Britain, the rise of collaborative consumption (renting, lending, exchanging knowledge between private individuals, car-sharing, exchanging homes…) is far less spectacular than in other European countries such as France, Italy, Spain or Poland. Whereas 64% of Europeans and 83% of the French have witnessed the emergence of these new forms of consumption in their country, only 44% have seen this develop in Britain (including only 7% “a lot”, compared to 14% on average), the lowest score observed in Europe.

For the last 5 years, the British have less than other Europeans chosen to buy things second hand (37% have done this more often, compared to 39% on average), to borrow them (22% compared to 27% on average), to exchange them (13% compared to 19%) or to hire them (11% compared to 17%).

The British have on average tried 3.9 out of 17 collaborative consumption practises, which is less than the European average (4.6).
A majority of them have however bought products from small local producers who live in their region (61%; 65% on average) and have already bought or sold second-hand cultural goods (61%; even more than the European average of 54%).
Other practices have been tried only by a minority. The British especially lag behind when it comes to practices linked to driving: for example, only 9% have asked a private individual to rent them his car or drive them in a car-sharing arrangement (compared to 19%) and 5% have already used a car-club car (compared to 13%). The British have also been less seduced by practices in the field of housing, such as asking directly a private individual to rent their home for their holidays (10% compared to 17%).

The British indeed still prefer to own their car (88% compared to 12% who prefer to lend it or borrow it) and their main residence (94%). The British are also less likely than other Europeans to prefer borrowing or hiring a second home than owning it (56% compared to 65% on average). Same for car accessories such as a roof box, cycle rack, child seat… (32% compared to 36%) or gardening equipment (19% compared to 34%). On average, the British prefer borrowing or hiring only 1.7 out of 7 items tested (compared to 2.1 for the European average). GB remains one of the countries surveyed where ownership is most valued.

Even though a majority of the British are convinced that the development of collaborative consumption is an underlying trend (69% think so) this is the lowest score observed.
Like the European average, a majority of British people consider the rise of collaborative consumption as an answer to the economic crisis. They however underline more often than other Europeans the role of technological changes as a catalyst to the development of this trend (37% compared to 30%). Only 13% (compared to 18% on average) believe this change is mainly caused by a real transformation in our societies (need to make connections, to bypass intermediaries…)

The British, less enthusiastic but still convinced of the virtues of collaborative consumption

When 69% of the Europeans believe that the development of collaborative consumption leads to more solidarity in society, the British are a bit less enthusiastic: 61% think it is the case.

However, a significant proportion of them is convinced that collaborative consumption practices can show (even only partly) solidarity: 74% think so when it comes to exchanging services (compared to 82% on average), 73% about offering to give people lifts in exchange for a small contribution to expenses (compared to 76%). They are more convinced than the average that lending money though a crowdfunding site in exchange for interest can be categorised as showing solidarity (61% compared to 53% on average).

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