The NHS has topped a list of Britons’ most cherished institutions as it prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary, according to an annual consumer survey.
More than half (54%) of adults include the health service in their list of “British things” that make them most proud, significantly ahead of British history (38%), the British armed forces (34%) and even the royal family (28%), according to the 28th Mintel British Lifestyles report.
However support for these institutions is much higher among older consumers, with 66% of those aged 65 and older saying they are proud of the NHS compared with 21% of 16 to 34-year-olds.
Similarly, 43% of those aged 65 and over are proud of the royal family compared with 20% of younger people.
In contrast, the younger generation is more likely to take pride in British food (20%) and British sporting achievements (18%) than older people at just 9% and 13% respectively.
Jack Duckett, senior consumer lifestyles analyst at Mintel, said: “The NHS is at the heart of the UK’s affections.
“For many Brits, the universal healthcare service has become a symbol of a fair society, delivering free at the point of access services for all, irrespective of wealth or financial contributions.
“Older adults are the most likely to have selected the NHS as their biggest source of pride, reflecting their status as the service’s longest standing financial contributors, as well as increasingly its most reliant patients.
“By contrast, younger adults are less focused on traditional British institutions, proving instead more likely to take pride from more recent British success stories.”
The survey also found a marked increase in the number of Britons who are worried about how Brexit will affect their regular costs, rising to 51% of adults from 46% in July 2016.
Despite this, consumer confidence has continued its upward trajectory over the past five years, with 72% of adults today describing their financial situation as healthy or OK, up from 66% in 2012.
This has helped to increase total consumer spending to £1.25 trillion in 2017, an increase of 3% on 2016’s £1.2 trillion.
Mr Duckett said: “Consumer confidence has continued to improve over the last five years, although the uncertainty surrounding Britain’s future role outside of the EU could limit any hopes of a greater increase in consumer confidence.
“This is perhaps already being reflected by more modest growth in consumer credit than has previously been seen, and could mean more cautious consumer spending in the near future.”