Reuters/Ipsos MORI February 2011 Political Monitor

Support for cuts to public services falls as the impact of spending cuts begins to be felt. There is widespread concern about the effects of cuts in the next 12 months as pessimism about the economy increases to levels of concern not seen since the start of 2009

Reuters/Ipsos MORI February 2011 Political Monitor

Support for cuts to public services falls as the impact of spending cuts begins to be felt

Widespread concern about the effects of cuts in the next 12 months

Pessimism about the economy increases to levels of concern not seen since the start of 2009

CON 33(nc); LAB 43(nc); LIB DEM 13(nc)

The Reuters/Ipsos MORI February Political Monitor shows a fall in public acceptance of the need for spending cuts, amid concern about the impact of cuts on people’s everyday lives. Just under half of the public agree that “there is a real need to cut spending on public services in order to pay off the very high national debt we now have” (48%), compared to 56% at the end of last year. Disagreement that cuts are needed has risen from 33% in November to 41% now.

A significant minority (36%) say they have already been affected by the cuts, while three-quarters (73%) are concerned about the effects of the cuts on themselves and their families over the next 12 months. Women, Labour voters, public sector workers, C2DEs and those aged 25-34 and 45-64 are most likely to say they have already been affected, and these groups are also most concerned about the future.

Concern about cuts is accompanied by a continuing increase in levels of pessimism about Britain’s economy. The proportion of the public who think that the economic condition of the country will improve over the next twelve months has fallen to a fifth (19%). Over half (56%) think it will get worse, putting our Economic Optimism Index (those positive minus those negative) at -37, the lowest since February 2009.

Voting intention figures are unchanged from January, with the Conservatives on 33%, Labour on 43% and the Liberal Democrats on 13% amongst all those absolutely certain to vote.

Satisfaction with Cameron, Clegg and the government remain unchanged. Over half of the public are dissatisfied with the government and its leaders. Three in ten (31%) are satisfied with the way the Government is running the country, and two-fifths (39%) are satisfied with David Cameron’s performance as Prime Minister. Around a third (34%) are satisfied with Nick Clegg’s performance as Deputy Prime Minister.

Support for Miliband has fallen this month. Though a quarter (23%) remain unable to give an opinion, there has been a continuation in the decline in satisfaction with Ed Miliband; 34% are satisfied and 43% are dissatisfied with his performance.

This month, we also asked additional questions around public support for changes to the voting system.

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,002 adults across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 18-20 February 2011.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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