More people now say EU citizens working in UK is ‘good thing’

People in the UK have become more favourable since the Brexit referendum towards other EU citizens working in the country, new figures suggest.

Some 57% of people surveyed in spring 2016 said it was a good thing for EU citizens to have the right to work in the UK.

By spring 2018 this figure had jumped to 68% – the biggest increase reported by any of the EU’s 28 member states.

The public’s view of immigration also appears to have shifted since the referendum vote in June 2016.

In spring 2016 immigration was picked by respondents as the most important issue facing the UK, with 38% naming it as their top concern.

But by spring 2018 this had fallen to 17%, with health and social security now the nation’s number one issue (picked by 33%).

(PA Graphics)

The figures are contained in a new report from the Office for National Statistics, which uses a range of data to measure the UK’s national well-being against the rest of the European Union and other countries around the world.

The report suggests the UK has become a more sociable place in recent years, with the proportion of people saying they feel close to those in their neighbourhood rising from 58.4% in 2011 to 62.0% in 2016, near the EU average of 63.0%.

Mental health has also improved, with the UK’s score on the World Health Organisation’s mental well-being index rising from 58.6% in 2011 to 63.2% in 2016 – again, close to the EU average (64.0%).

Today’s data explores how the UK’s well-being and quality of life compares to other countries around the world. Find out how we’re doing

— ONS (@ONS) March 6, 2019

However, people in the UK have a lower level of trust in the European Union (30%) compared with the average across all 28 members (42%).

Trust in the UK Government among its own citizens is almost as low – 31% in spring 2018, down from 34% in spring 2016.

The proportion who agree that their country’s voice counts in the EU is unchanged from 2016 to 2018 at 35%.

But the UK ranks highest among all member states for people who agree that their country faces a better future outside the EU – though the gap between those who agree (44%) and disagree (43%) is tiny.