- Two in three want government to increase spending on public services – but only one in four think it will
- Public confidence in government's long-term economic policies lowest since 2009
A majority want to see the Government increase public spending, according to the latest Ipsos MORI Political Monitor. One week before Phillip Hammond is due to deliver his budget the new poll reveals that two-thirds (66%) think the government should increase spending on public services, even if that means higher taxes or more government borrowing. One in five (20%) believe it should keep spending at the current level, while just 8% think it should reduce spending to allow for tax cuts or less government borrowing.
The desire to end austerity also holds across party lines – a majority (59%) of Conservative supporters also believe the government should increase spending on public services (as do 77% of Labour supporters) – a quarter (26%) want to keep spending as it is while one in ten (10%) want it reduced (compared with 16% and 4% of Labour supporters respectively).
However, despite the majority of the public wanting the government to increase spending on public services only a quarter (24% - including 26% of Conservative supporters) think the government will actually do it, while most are split between thinking it will either reduce spending (33%) or keep spending as it is (36%).
When it comes to specific tax policies that might be considered by the government a majority (54%) are in favour of introducing a 20% VAT on fees for attending private school with a quarter (26%) opposed to this idea. Just under half (46%) think government should cancel plans to increase the tax threshold for earners between £43,000 - £50,000 pa with 36% opposed. Less popular ideas include ending free TV licences for over 75s (33% support this compared with 58% opposed) and replacing tax relief on pension savings with a 20% tax (16% support this plan compared with 71% opposed).
Two-thirds (66%) do not think that in the long term the government’s policies will improve the state of Britain’s public services – little change from the last two years – while a quarter (26%) agree. Most (52%) Conservative supporters however have confidence that the government’s long-term policies will improve public services (38% disagree) compared with just 11% of Labour supporters (85% disagree).
A majority (56%) also disagree with the statement ‘in the long term the government’s policies will improve the state of Britain’s economy’ with nearly a third (35%) agreeing. The findings are a fall from November 2017 when Philip Hammond delivered his last budget to parliament, when 41% thought the government’s economic policies would benefit the country in the long-run, and are the worst overall since June 2009 after the financial crash when Alastair Darling was Chancellor
Slightly fewer Britons are satisfied in Phillip Hammond doing his job as Chancellor of the Exchequer than there were one year ago. Three in ten are satisfied with him (30%, down 6 points) while 43% are dissatisfied (down 2 points). The number saying they ‘don’t know’ has increased from 19% to 27%. Most Conservative supporters remain satisfied with him, but less than a year ago. Half (51%) say they’re satisfied with Mr. Hammond (down 11 points) with three in ten (31%) dissatisfied.
Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said:
Public opinion is turning against austerity, even among Conservative supporters. But the challenge facing the Chancellor is that few believe he really will increase spending, and at a time of economic pessimism some options that might hit the vulnerable or those not on high incomes like taxing pension savings are not popular. However, the public is worried about the future of public services, and can be more accepting of some tax rises (such as on income tax) if they believe the money will be used to fund key public services like the NHS.
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Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,044 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 19th-22nd October 2018. Data are weighted to the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a party’s support lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by this poll, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points.