An exclusive BMG poll commissioned by the Evening Standard reveals that less than ten percent of adults want government cuts to continue in order to achieve a surplus in the public finances.
The poll found that a majority of adults want cuts either eased off or stopped immediately. Ahead of the Chancellors budget statement, BMG polled over 1,500 UK adults and asked them what, in their view, the budget’s top priority should be and whether austerity policies should continue and at what pace.
When respondents were asked to finish the sentence “I think austerity policies should…” just 7% said continue until a surplus is locked in. A smaller proportion agreed with Osborne’s comments in February that “further cuts may be required” and indicated that economic policies should go further than they already have with more cuts being required (2%). Most people felt that existing austerity policies should stay in place, but ease off if things get better (30%). However, a similar proportion felt that austerity policies should ‘stop now’ (27%) and around one in ten respondents believed austerity policies should not have been implemented in the first place. These results suggest that the public remain somewhat divided in their views on national economic policy.
When asked what the top priority for the budget should be, over one third of adults said that they want more money for public services such as schools and hospitals and a fifth said they thought stopping cuts to the welfare state should be the top priority.
BMG Research Director, Dr Michael Turner said “it comes as no surprise that Britain’s poorest and most vulnerable are much more likely to call for the Chancellor to stop further cuts to the welfare state. Some 27% of those living in Briton’s most deprived areas say that stopping government cuts should be Osborne’s top priority in this year’s budget, compared to just 14% of those living in Briton’s least deprived areas.”
The poll also found that some 14% of respondents wanted the budget to prioritise pushing up worker’s wages, whilst delivering immediate economic growth was a top priority for 13%. Just 9% said the continued drive to achieve a surplus in public finances should be the main concern for Osborne.
Interestingly, the poll revealed what appears to be a broad consensus across the political spectrum regarding government spending, specifically on public services. For supporters of all the major political parties, their biggest individual priority for Osborne’s budget was to increase spending on schools, hospitals and other public services, with 52% of Lib Dems, 38% of Labour and UKIP supporters, and 28% of Conservatives indicating so.
Readers can interrogate the data for themselves by toggling with the menu in the chart below.
The poll also showed that 36% of UK adults think austerity policies are bad for the British economy right now compared with 28% who think they are good for the economy (36% don’t know). Delving deeper into the data shows a clear political divide on the government’s economic approach with some 61% of Conservative supporters saying that austerity policies are good for the British economy right now, compared to 32% of Liberal Democrats, one quarter of UKIPers (25%) and just 13% of Labour supporters.
Again, readers can interrogate the data for themselves by toggling with the menu in the chart below.
Michael Turner went on to say that “these results also suggest that people’s views on the merits of welfare are an important indicator of their wider views on austerity and their personal priorities for the upcoming budget. Among those who feel that state welfare does more good than harm, a majority (52%) say that austerity policies are bad for the British economy right now. However, just one quarter (24%) of those who feel that state welfare does more harm than good share this view. The government and, given his political ambitions, Mr Osborne in particular, should note that 38% of those who are undecided about how they would vote at a General Election also support increased spending on public services.”
An article based on these polling results, released by the Evening Standard, can be found here.
Data tables containing a breakdown of the results can be found here.
For further details about this poll, and any other results from our polling series, please feel free to get in touch by email or phone.
Lauren Harris – Research Executive
0121 333 6006