First budget polling

The first snapshot budget poll – done on Wednesday afternoon and evening by Populus – is up on the Times website. Only 596 respondents and no voting intention, but it is our first straw in the wind and it’s a mixed picture for the government.

The ‘showroom tax’ on the most polluting new cars was indeed popular – 68% backed it – but more surprisingly there was also support for the increase in tax on alcohol; 55% backed the rise in alcohol duties. Respondents overwhelmingly (71% to 24%) supported higher child benefit and winter fuel allowances.

Despite positive reactions to the two main tax rises, overall opinion on the budget seems to be negative. 38% think they’ll pay more tax, with only 4% thinking they’ll gain. 42% of people think they’ll be worse off from the budget. 26% think it will be bad for business, with only 9% thinking it will help. 23% think it will increase the threat of recession, only 6% think it help reduce one.

So – the things the government did in the budget are popular…but people think they’ll lose out and it won’t improve things for the economy or for business. It isn’t clear from that whether this budget will improve or damage the government’s popularity or make no difference at all – there will no doubt be plenty more polling on the budget in the next few days which will give us a better idea.


19 Responses to “First budget polling”

  1. I believe that the public’s expectations are so low that they are unlikely to get angry very easily. I think thye public almost accept that more and more money will be taken by government.

    That this is so is, in my opinion, simpyk a reflection of years of tax rises. I continue to be astounded that while the public believes the money spent on oublic services is largely wasted, it is still happy to throw more and more money on the fire and watch idely as it goes up in smoke.

  2. Maybe the public have longer memories than most people think and still can remember back to the last government,that is why the governments vote has held up so much?

    Maybe the public are using it’s own use of Public Services as a barometer for them and not taking the front paage headlines of the Mail as the be all of what is actually happening in them.Remember the Mail,Express etc said the minimum wage will bring mass unemployment,very high inflation,maybe the public can now see through the biased bull?

    Seeing as the press have all but thrown the kitchen sink at the current government and lauded Cameron in the last 12 months it is very surprising where the polls still stand.

  3. To some extent, perhaps, a clash between the specifics that people can see (and which they like) and the generic immediate impression created by newspaper headlines.

  4. Some of the disparity may come down to the ‘Are you a heartless bastard?’ questions refered on on here in the past.
    ‘Do you want to save the environment?’
    or
    ‘Do you want to pay more for your car?’

    Yeah ,but no, but yeah, but no…

  5. Its so easy to be critical when in opposition. The government needs to raise money to pay to keep us heathy, the bins emptied and our kids educated. The Chelsea Tractor brigade will never be happy with tax rises but paying under £1000 more for their polluting machines wil not detract them from buying them. Thus why nt ignore this elite band of voters thay will never vote for people frindly policies and charge them £4 – 5k per car.
    Lets keep this country on track foru huge success along with social policy to help those who are less fortunate.
    The budget may be a bit dull – but its never going to be Alton Towers is it??

  6. I am old enough (and experienced enough) to recall the price of an off-licence drink from twenty years ago. Prices have hardly changed in nominal terms, and have fallen in real terms. [Pubs are effected by other factors, not least the minimum wage.]

    Having squeezed the pips, the lemons at the Treasury have chosen a suitable target – drinkers. I cannot see modest increases in alcohol prices being a major burden on the English tax-payer.

    That said, the extra taxes on new cars is annoying. However we no longer have a proper car-industry, so it is most likely to hit johnny-foreigner’s workforce. Nice move!

    If thing get bad, then I’ll have to get the car back on the road. If the French know one thing, it is that we English like our cheap beer…!

  7. Very interested to see these results. I know there is a lot of polling to go, but I will not be surprised if the car tax and booze taxes are relatively popular (or not unpopular at least). Also, not surprised by overall negative view, as I think that people just tend to have negative views of their economic future. I remember therewas a blog on this a while ago showing economic optimism for the last x years and it was almost always negative…

    I do hope the press take note though. Whenever there is a buget they always seem to trot out the same pundits and ‘average’ people who they clearly pick for their unwavering ‘what’s in it for me attitude’. Not good for the debate…

  8. Apparently the question about car tax was framed in the terms of ‘gas guzzlers’. If so, my point above clearly stands.

    ‘Are you in favour of gas guzzling cars…etc…’

    In fact as of Wednesday afternoon, most people probably didn’t realise that meant Passats, Mondeos, all traditional family cars.. [ ie them!].

    ‘If you want a car that is large enough to take your family on holiday in this country, rather than taking a flight….pay more. Is that good?’, might have got a different response.

    Someone said to me only today that they hadn’t realised that even their Ford Ka’s had gone up. He was wondering how much smaller he could go?

    Not a Chelsea tractor Carl, which rather proves the point that initial impressions are misleading. At least to owners of Ford Ka’s Mondeos, Fiesta’s…

    ‘Do you approve of the Govt taxing most family cars for the needs of the enviroment and not using the revenue raised for the enviroment, as recommended by EU [email protected], might also get a different response.

  9. How much smaller we could go? Much smaller is the answer, particularly if the car manufacturers are encouraged to invest in the technology for greener cars… In fact lets be honest, we need to be phasing out the fossil driven engine altogether.

    I do feel that the money from such taxes should be invested directly into environmental initiatives though…

  10. I’d hazard a guess that no budgets since the inflation-stoking taxcuts during the 80’s Lawson Boom have been generally popular.

    I’d also bet that no member of the general public could remember what was in any of them more than a few days afterwards.

  11. The budget is not going to have any lasting impact politically. It was in essence a neutral budget partly because Darling had little room for manoeuvre and partly because it was the right thing to do at a time of financial uncertainty. Cutting taxes or increasing spending would have been hugely irresponsible which is precisely why Osbourne has reiterated today that he cannot commit to cutting a single penny of tax. That may get the right wing nutcases in a tizzy but it is correct.

    So I think we proceed to the May elections with the status quo in tact. Labour surprisingly only somewhere between 2 and 8 points down which offers some comfort but not enough to make them think that they can win the next election without improving their performance over the next year (and perhaps more importantly, economic growth holding up this year and next). The Tories will be concerned that their lead is not bigger but then again they have yet to unveil their policies (or indeed any concrete policies). I do not therefore think that either main party should draw too much comfort from their current position. Either could lose, either could win.

    I can’t be arsed to comment on the LibDems.

  12. AC, but I would hazard a guess that the majority of the country can’t just think to themselves ‘lets go out and buy a new small car’ because they cant afford it. So they are stuck with their existing models that happen to be clobbered under these tax increases

  13. Lots of sensible postings here. Just to pick up Fluffy’s comment on the UK car industry – it’s producing more cars than at any time for the last 20 years and is one of the biggest in Europe, and Nissan have just taken on 800 new staff on Wearside as the plant is so competitive.
    LukW – the answer to the mystery of what people think about ‘wasted’ taxes is solved by the analogy of the ‘how much do you hate the government’ question. Everybody ‘knows’ taxes are wasted, the NHS is failing, crime is up, the economy is going to crash etc, and this is what they say to pollsters. When they are asked about their own personal experience 80%+ say the NHS was wonderful, 75% say they are suffering less crime, and 60%+ say they are pretty confident about their own finances.
    This whole disparity is in part down to the media’s growing obsession with 24 hour pumping out of bad news, backed up by opposition parties, (and in 92-97 Labour was brilliant at this) isolating unpleasant stories and selectively presenting these as the norm. Its going to be a real problem for any and all governments and is slowly poisoning politics on a global basis.
    Personally, I believe most UK politicians are hard working, honest, and decent individuals, who have a basic belief in their country and a desire to help make it a better place – I apply this to all parties. I’ll probably get completely shafted on this blog for stating this, and if I stood up and said it down my local, I might not get out alive. I take that to be a signal of how poor the general debate (not this one) has sunk.

  14. Alec – the national/local contrast doesn’t actually work for finances, YouGov’s economy question in the Telegraph asks about people’s own household finances and it was 55% getting worse, 16% getting better last month.

    It is the NHS where the contrast really shows up, and it tends to work the same on schools and policing. Interesting, it works for MPs to – people are normally scathing about MPs in general, but often quite well disposed towards their local MP.

  15. I’ve just read E P Thompson (Communist historian) on Harold Wilson and Tom Bower on Gordon Brown. Inteesting how very similar George and Gordon Brown come out of those books.
    I have a feeling Cameron is the new Ted Heath.

  16. Arnie.
    Have to agree – and you made me laugh.

  17. An interesting exchange between TPA & Peter Riddell on the Populus Poll:-

    http://tpa.typepad.com/campaign/2008/03/a-misleading-po.html

  18. Alec – Agree with what you say,especially the how much do you hate the government example.

    However as I said earlier,the very unusual strength of the governments percentage,especially as the government is Labour and the constant bull,sorry,should that be top quality unbiased political reporting only for the benefit of the country,being poured in it’s direction from the usual suspects in the press(Jesus,when was the last time the Express or the Mail actually printed something positive on it’s front page,who reads these papers…..funeral wailers?)I can only assume that either the government itself is benefiting from anti-government press fatigue,or at long last the public realise that these papers are just repeating endlessly,sometimes daily,the same old slanted stories to benefit the party it wants in power….here is to hoping it is the second one.

  19. Peter Riddell response to the tax payers alliance when they slated the Populus poll “to attack a poll in such an extreme fashion when you don’t like the results.”

    You want to be on here Peter when the poll doesn’t show a huge conservative lead.