Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond unveiled his first Budget yesterday. Thanks to a manifesto-breaking rise in National Insurance rates for the self-employed, the Budget was met with scepticism by many in his own party.
Away from that furore, however, two key demographics – millennials and baby boomers – were targeted with very different policies. Among the measures announced were £2bn for social care – appealing to baby boomers – and more funding for technical education, designed to address the needs of millennials.
It’s important for any business to review and respond quickly to issues which affect the whole country. So can an in-depth, real-time look at the media on Budget Day, using the power of Signal’s platform, help us see how baby boomers and millennials fared? How did the media respond to the government’s policies? And just how far has the National Insurance row dominated the conversation?
The above graph tallies broadcast, online and print instances where Philip Hammond was mentioned in the media alongside ‘millennials’ (in blue) and ‘baby boomers’ (in red), hour by hour during March 8th. The morning press mentioned baby boomers more often, perhaps due to tactical leaking of the upcoming social care announcement.
In the afternoon, however, the media’s reaction to the Budget switched, with millennials becoming more prominent. In particular, the spike in mentions of ‘millennials’ around 14:00 – immediately following Hammond’s Budget speech – was generated almost exclusively by the property press, who were unhappy with the lack of measures addressing housing for young people. This is illuminated in the below image, which is a screengrab of the Signal media monitoring platform:
In the immediate aftermath of the Budget speech, the property press – which may have been expecting measures addressing affordable housing for young people – was disappointed in the lack of such announcements. This is reflected in our sentiment analysis of the day’s press:
While the morning’s media is relatively neutral in tone, the Budget speech quickly triggered a swing to negative sentiment. Interestingly, while coverage of baby boomers ended the day on a more positive note, ITV’s The Nightly Show castigated Philip Hammond for the fact that millennials are expected to be worse off than their parents. This drew an end to a topsy-turvy day for Hammond and the Budget.
The big issues, in real time
We also took a look at how the debate on National Insurance progressed in real time over the past 24 hours. We put media coverage of National Insurance alongside two other vital Budget announcements: social care and business rates. Below is all coverage from March 8th, as well as the first few hours of this morning (March 9th):
On Budget Day itself, National Insurance and social care received roughly equivalent amounts of coverage. But as the day progressed, and more opposition to Hammond’s NI hike began to reveal itself, National Insurance started to dominate the conversation. Since the start of the day, NI has overshadowed the other major announcements, including Hammond’s billions of pounds for social care. Internal conflicts might just have prevented the government from experiencing a stress-free Budget.
If Philip Hammond and the Conservatives had been able to monitor and digest press comment in real time, would they have been able to staunch the flow of negative press regarding National Insurance post-Budget? Being able to analyse breaking news in real time should be a fundamental part of all organisations’ PR and communications strategies. To see how Signal can work for your business, sign up for a demo here.