The latest Sunday Telegraph/ICM poll shows that both coalition partners have witnessed a 2-point falls in their share of the vote compared to the days preceding the budget, with Labour edging back into a wafer thin 1-point lead.
Conservatives 37% (-2)
Labour 38% (+2)
LD 13% (-2)
Others 13% (+3)
People rarely reflect on day-to-day political matters, but big events like the budget do turn heads, especially when the public perceives it is being hit in the worst possible place: its pocket. If George Osborne were to claim that his budget was revenue neutral, then he would need to communicate that more effectively – the headline voting figures might well be driven by a significant proportion (37%) signalling that they think they’ll be worse off as a result of the measures he introduced on Wednesday. Perhaps surprisingly though it’s not pensioners who are most likely to think so, but those approaching or in middle age, and those on middle to low incomes. The rich, by and large, don’t feel soaked at all.
Only 8% think they will be better off, making a net differential between the two of -29, with 47% believing that their financial situation will not change.
The so-called Granny Tax is unquestionably not popular. A full 63% oppose it’s introduction, rising with age from 50% opposition among the youngest cohort, to 68% among the 35-64 segment. Opposition does tail off slightly though among the pensioner group who it will hit (64%), possibly reflecting an acceptance of disproportional wealth among the so-called Baby Boomer generation. That said, 64% opposition to a policy among a group it will directly affect is pretty sizable.
Interestingly, when more details of the tax are given in a subsequent question, opposition hardens to 72%.
Opposition to other policies introduced by the Chancellor also exists, in spades. Chief amongst them is 88% opposition to the 3p fuel duty level soon to arrive, which makes the decision not to defer it a big political gamble given such high level distaste. Cutting the 50p top rate of tax is opposed by 56%, which is fairly consistent across the social grade spectrum, with even 55% of the high earning ABs opposing it (although most ABs probably fail to reach the £150k top rate themselves).
Spending on welfare payments is set to be cut again, but it looks as though the public feel that these particular cuts might have gone far enough. 48% oppose further cuts, with 40% in support of them.
Elsewhere George Osborne – or at least his Liberal Democrat partners – will find some comfort: policies that attack wealth are positively received, most particularly the increase in stamp duty on £2m+ properties, which gains the approval of 70%. The tapering of child benefit among those earning above £50k is supported by 59%.
Also very popular is the increase in starting thresholds for income tax, with 79% supporting its introduction. Measures to encourage business also go down well, with 60% in support of the 1% cut in corporation tax.
Finally, relaxing Sunday trading laws during the Summer fails to excite the public, with a majority (56%) believing that the status quo is fine; 37% would like the current restrictions scrapped.
ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 22-23rd March 2012. 850 interviews were conducted on landlines, and 150 interviews on mobile phones. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
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