Six in ten do not want to cut spending on public services to pay off debt

Three in five (59%) Britons are satisfied with the way Rishi Sunak is doing his job as Chancellor.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Glenn Gottfried Public Affairs, Ipsos MORI North
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Dylan Spielman Public Affairs
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  • Rishi Sunak remains popular with most satisfied in him doing his job as Chancellor
  • Most agree that the Budget will be good for the country – but eight in ten believe 1% pay rise for NHS staff is too low

The new Ipsos MORI Political Monitor finds that most Britons (54%) believe that the Government has spent about the right amount on supporting ordinary people during the pandemic so far (29% say they’ve spent too little). However, when it comes to future spending the public are more split, with 45% thinking the Government will spend too little on supporting ordinary people during the recovery from the pandemic and 40% thinking they will spend the right amount. This is largely spilt along party lines with two in three Conservative supporters (66%) saying the Government will spend the right amount (20% say too little) while 68% of Labour supporters believe it will spend too little (24% say the right amount).

When asked if there is a “real need to cut spending on public services in order to pay off the very high national debt”, 26% agree but 61% disagree – similar to the balance of opinion when last asked in August 2018 (when 19% agreed and 58% disagreed). However, this is very different to the years after the financial crash in 2010, when most Britons believed there was a need to cut spending to pay off the debt (for example, by 59% to 32% in October 2010). Conservatives are more split on the matter, although are still more likely to oppose spending cuts with 38% agreeing and 48% disagreeing, while Labour supporters are more aligned with 12% agreeing and 75% disagreeing.

When it comes to the recent Budget half (52%) believe it is good for the country (25% say bad) – similar to levels seen after the March 2020 budget (54% good vs 22% bad). The last Budget previous to this that achieved similar ratings was in June 2010. Fewer however say that the Budget is good for them personally (39% good vs 26% bad), slightly lower than in 2020 (45% said good and 24% bad).

Public spending

Other key findings from the budget include:

  • Seven in ten (69%) support raising corporation tax on company profits above £250,000 from 19% to 25% in April 2023 (15% oppose).
  • Most (53%) support increasing the amount raised in income tax by freezing the threshold for paying 40% tax at earnings above £50,270 until April 2026 (23% oppose).
  • Just under half (47%) support increasing the amount raised in income tax by freezing the threshold for paying 20% tax at earnings above £12,750 until April 2026 (33% oppose).

However, nearly four in five (78%) members of the public believe that the pay rise of 1% for most NHS staff in England is too little. One in five (20%) believe it is the right amount, and only 7% think it is too much. Even Conservative supporters are at odds with the policy where 66% say that it is too little (32% say it’s the right amount), as do 91% of Labour supporters.

Overall, though, Rishi Sunak remains popular amongst the public. Three in five (59%) are satisfied with the way he is doing his job at Chancellor (up 3 points from February) while 27% are dissatisfied. When asked whether Rishi Sunak or Boris Johnson would make the most capable Prime Minister the public are split – 42% say Sunak and 41% say Johnson. Conservatives however are more likely to favour the PM (70% vs. 24% for Sunak) while Labour supporters are more likely to favour Sunak (57% vs. 24% for Johnson). The public are also split when it comes to asking if either Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer would make the most capable Prime Minister (39% say Sunak and 37% say Starmer).

Sunak

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said:

It looks like the politics of public spending post-Covid will be quite different to the reaction to the financial crash. Although then there was agreement that cuts were needed, now Britons don’t want to see further austerity. Broadly, the reaction to the recent Budget and the Chancellor’s satisfaction levels suggest that the public believes that Rishi Sunak is getting the balance right, although there is some concern that the recovery won’t see enough support for ordinary people – especially among those in their twenties and early thirties.

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,009 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 5th – 12th March 2021. Data are weighted to the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Glenn Gottfried Public Affairs, Ipsos MORI North
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Dylan Spielman Public Affairs

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