Satisfaction with Hammond drops, as does economic optimism
Public are split on whether Budget was good for the country
Satisfaction with the Chancellor has fallen since November, according to Ipsos’s latest Political Monitor. The new poll, based on fieldwork after the Budget (but before yesterday’s announcement of a U-turn on National Insurance contributions for the self-employed) reveals that satisfaction with the Chancellor has fallen five points since November to 34%, while 46% of the British public are dissatisfied with him (up 18 points).
These ratings are similar to George Osborne’s after his first year (36% satisfied, 45% dissatisfied in March 2011), although Mr Osborne’s ratings had dropped to 27% satisfied, 60% dissatisfied by March 2016. Among Conservative supporters, 60% are satisfied with Mr Hammond, and 26% dissatisfied.
These findings come as economic optimism also slips this month. Half (50%) say they expect the country’s economy to get worse over the next 12 months, an increase of six points from February. One in five, 22%, expect the economy to improve, giving an Ipsos Economic Optimism Index of -28 (% get better minus % get worse), back to the level seen in December last year.
When it comes to the public’s views of the Budget overall, 38% say it was good for the country, and 42% bad. This is better than their views of last March’s budget (30% good, 53% bad), and a lot better than the reaction to the 2012 “omnishambles” budget (33% good, 53% bad), but not as positive as the reaction to the 2015 or 214 budgets. Men, older people, those in social classes AB and Conservative supporters tend to be the most positive. One in three, 33%, think the budget was good for them personally, and 39% that it was bad (again, this is a more positive reaction than in 2012, but worse than 2015 and 2014).
Overall, around four in ten (44%) believe the government’s policies will improve Britain’s economy in the long-run – half (50%) disagree. This shows no change since March last year, though is slightly worse than the government’s position going into the 2015 general election.
Ratings of the party leaders show little change over the month, with the Prime Minister’s honeymoon showing no sign of ending. Half (52%) say they are satisfied with Theresa May’s performance as Prime Minister (39% dissatisfied), giving a net satisfaction score of +13. Nine in ten (90%) of Conservative supporters approve of the job she is doing.
The poll also shows little improvement in Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s ratings among the public. One in four (23%) say they are satisfied with Mr Corbyn doing his job, while 64% are dissatisfied, leaving him a net satisfaction score of -41. Half of Labour supporters (52%) are unhappy with his performance, while 42% are satisfied.
For Tim Farron and Paul Nuttall, over a third of Britons are still unable to give an opinion. Of those who do, the balance is more negative than positive, especially for Mr Nuttall with 51% dissatisfied with the job he is doing as leader of UKIP, and 14% satisfied (a net score of -37). For Mr Farron, 26% are satisfied and 36% dissatisfied, a net score of -10.
Voting intention figures show the Conservatives maintaining their strong lead over Labour. The Conservatives currently stand at 43%, compared with Labour at 30%, the Liberal Democrats at 13% and UKIP at 6%.
Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos, said:
“The Chancellor’s honeymoon clearly hasn’t lasted as long as his leader at No10. Having said that, public reaction to the budget wasn’t in ‘omnishambles’ territory, and there is little sign of voters swinging back to Labour. What the Conservatives may be more worried about is if reaction to their U-turn on national insurance has longer-term implications for their reputation for economic competence.”
Technical note:Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,032 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 10th – 14th March 2017. Data are weighted to the profile of the population.