Survey reveals deep unease over loss of ‘moral compass’

British society lacks common values and is plagued by selfishness, greed, drug and alcohol misuse and family breakdown, according to a widespread survey of Britons.

The responses to an on-line survey conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) revealed a deep sense of unease about the issues troubling modern society, with many feeling that Britain had lost its ‘moral compass’.

The JRF ran the consultation on ‘modern-day social evils’ 100 years after its Quaker founder, Joseph Rowntree, identified as the key problems of his age poverty, war, slavery, intemperance, the opium trade, impurity and gambling.

The new survey, which invited responses last year through a website, showed that people still ranked drugs and alcohol, poverty and inequality highly among the key ‘evils’ threatening modern society.

These were all linked to family breakdown, which made a new addition to Mr Rowntree’s original list, along with crime, immigration and young people as either the victims or the perpetrators of social evils.

Behind the more concrete concerns, many of those responding to the survey identified social attitudes of individualism, greed, a decline of community and a decline of values as major social evils.

One respondent said: “Everything seems to be based around money and owning things. The more you have, the more successful you are. There’s nothing wrong with having enough, but there’s pressure on people to go for more and more.”