British Culture: What’s New?

2020 is a year of huge change in the world. It has changed our ways of working, studying – and also living.

But 2020 has also changed our attitudes. What’s important now was perhaps less important before. Take a look at how 2020 has changed British culture!

In this post, discover five things that have changed for British people – and five things which have stayed the same.

Five Things That Have Changed In 2020

1. Climate change
The summer of 2020 was really hot in the UK, with one “heatwave” n August breaking all earlier records. This was followed by massive storms.
Traditionally, our houses are built to keep heat in, with insulated walls and floors. We also have carpets, double-glazed windows and curtains to keep the house warm in winter. Older houses also have larger windows, to let in more light.

What’s new: We now understand how our houses are not suited for hot weather! We don’t usually have air-con or fans either.

2. Our work and social lives
Coronavirus has changed how and where we work, how we meet friends, and how and where we study.

For six months (from March to October), the UK government paid millions of people to stay at home with the “furlough” scheme. That had an impact on thousands of other businesses. Restaurants, bars and cafes have fewer customers, commuter trains are emptier, and people stayed in the UK for their summer holidays.

What’s new: We’re seeing the end of traditional office work. Cities may become more affordable for people to live in, while smaller towns and the suburbs become local business “hubs”.

3. Where we live
London used to attract millions of people for work. As an international financial centre, it employed not just people working in finance, but also in media, technology and entertainment. London became the most expensive city to live and work in.

What’s new: People are leaving London to live in smaller towns and cities. They’re especially interested in buying houses with gardens or spare rooms that they can use as home offices.

4. The government
We’ve had four years of arguments over Brexit, followed by the worst death rates in Europe from Coronavirus. The present government has changed its mind many times on Coronavirus policies – often from one day to the next – with politicians blaming everyone else for their mistakes.

What’s new: British people have even less trust in the government’s ability to deal with the crisis or to govern the country effectively. Brexit isn’t yet over, so we can expect more arguing over the next few months.

5. Key workers
During Coronavirus, we realised that the most important people in our society are often paid the least. Supermarket workers and carers have joined the list of our key workers like teachers, nurses and doctors.

What’s new: The British people showed their appreciation publicly, with a “Clap For Carers” session every Thursday evening during the height of Coronavirus. Public buildings were illuminated, while neighbours went outside to clap.

Five Things That Haven’t Changed In 2020

1. We still queue
The British have always queued – it’s part of our DNA (!) But now we queue with a metre between us and the next person. You’ll see marks on the floor or the pavement to help us queue at a safe distance.

2. We still talk about the weather
It’s probably the number-one topic of conversations, but with climate change we have an even better excuse! People watch the weather forecast regularly, as our weather is so changeable. Most people are able to tell you what weather to expect.

3. We still trust the Royal Family
Apart from the occasional scandal, the Royal Family give us no surprises and they don’t change their mind or behaviour. The surprising thing is that they aren’t even elected – unlike our politicians.

4. We still love a bargain
During August, the government paid half of the cost of meals in certain restaurants (up to a certain amount) for three days of the week in the “Eat out to help out” scheme. This came to more than 100 million meals (so about two meals for every person).

5. The NHS is our best-loved institution
The National Health Service is Britain’s most trusted and admired public institution. Providing free care to everybody since 1945, it’s also one of the highest-cost institutions. However, most people would prefer to see money go to the NHS than to cut its services or to introduce a privatised health service.


Do you know what motivates British people, or what they like to talk about? When you know about someone’s culture, you can make stronger relationships.

British Culture: What's New?
Clare, Founder of the English Fluency Club

When you join the English Fluency Club, you discover British culture as well as language! Get:

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2 Complete English fluency programs
A challenge every week in our (private) Facebook group – with video feedback
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