There is also a YouGov pre-budget poll in this morning’s Sun. In MORI’s poll they showed a drop in economic confidence, YouGov (who ask about the financial situation in people’s own household, rather than the economy as a whole) found an even sharper drop, down to -43, the worst since last January.

Nevertheless, people on balance supported the government’s economic policy, with 47% expecting cuts to be good for the economy compared to 30% bad. However, the public were evenly split on whether the cuts risks puttign the country back into recession and whether they would be carried out in a far manner or not. Blame for the impending cuts continued to be placed upon the outgoing Labour government, with 49% blaming Labour, 19% the coalition and 18% both of them.

Respondents expressed strong support for both an increase in the personal tax allowance (64% support) and a new tax on banks (76% support). Asked about other specific tax rises, the most popular were the “sin taxes” on alcohol and cigarettes, higher corporation tax and a rise in the higher rate of income tax. This is pretty much par for the course – polls normally show the most popular taxes being those on people richer than the respondent, those on businesses and the “sin taxes”.

The least popular options were higher petrol duty, higher council tax, VAT on food and childrens clothes, or an increase in the basic rate of income tax.

UPDATE: Tables are here

UPDATE2: Voting intention figures from the poll are now also up on the YouGov website here (and lest it be misconstrued by me putting it up at 4pm, these are pre-budget voting intention figures from yesterday). Voting intention stands at CON 41%, LAB 33%, LDEM 18%. Note that these are also being carried out with YouGov’s new post-election weighting figures, of which much more later.

54 Responses to “YouGov pre-budget poll”

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  1. Why do people blame your old government?

    It was a world recession.

    Started in USA with mortgages.

    And then went on to affect most countries in the world.

  2. It would appear that the Government is taking the public along with it so far. Their handling of the media has been very savvy so far. Admittedly it has been helped by lack of any coordinated oposition because of the Lab leadership election.

  3. @Paul L D

    People have to blame someone or something.

    Yes it was a global crisis but Gordon brown had spent 11 years promising the UK that the days of boom and bust were a thing of the past because of HIS economic competence.

    Since he took the credit for the years of plenty then he had to take the hit for the subsequent lean years.

    Perhaps it is not fair, but human nature does not always mean people react logically.

  4. John Fletcher – Did it ever occur to you what a ridiculous question it is??

    If the question read “What or who do you think is to blame for the recession: 1) Global Credit Crisis, 2) The Labour Government or 3) The Coalition, I imagine we would get a more accurate answer, but the Sun haven’t asked those questions have they??

    Given the choice of “Labour” or “The Coalition” how could any rational person blame the Coalition when they weren’t even in power at the time?

    Says a lot that 18% still do really.

  5. Also 47% said the cuts would be good for the economy, yet the public were “evenly split” (any figures AW?) over whether they would put us back into recession!!

    Honestly, who did they ask? A cage of monkeys?

  6. Sue – I’ve added a link to the tables. The split was 41% who thought there should be cuts now, 40% though they should be later as they risked putting the country back into recession.

  7. @ Sue

    Well yes I agree the question was leading.

    However I premis that the got seems to be taking the public (or at least a substantial, possibly a majority) with it I believe holds.

    In the end the public seems to accept that a period of austerity is in order. Even Lab agree this though they differ on the timing.

    The majority public also seem to perfer cuts to tax rises right now.

  8. Thanks Anthony – bizarre responses all round really, i’ll scan the tables to try and make some sense….

  9. Hrm… This is a very “odd” poll. And I do have to say the root of the problem here is the UK Polling Establishment’s tendency to be all too willing to allow the newspaper to dictate the question wording.

  10. Some interesting stats. How about this…

    In response to the Q “Thinking about the way the government is cutting spending to reduce the government’s deficit, do you think this is being done fairly or unfairly?” 34% said fairly and 35% unfairly. 32% didn’t know.

    I suggest that depending on what transpires in the way of axe and tax, this is not good for the coalition. cuts

  11. oops… cut ‘cuts’ from last post

  12. Just finished watching the budget. Couldn’t help noticing how glum the Labour benches were for much of the time. I’m certain many of them wonder why they didn’t focus on raising IT thresholds and CGT rates among other things.

    As with any budget, at the time it all sounds sensible and reasonable, although the VAT decision should kick up a bit of a storm. The responses will be interesting.

    I suspect the big polling shift won’t come post budget – everyone expects some pain. The Tories assumed this would be the bad news and they could get it out of the way early. The real bad news will be the steady drip drip of cuts over the next several years and it might be a bit harder to overcome.

  13. Alec – I think the Labour benches were glum because they know this is not the way it should have been done, not the way it needed to be done and that the emphasis was on helping business and clobbering those on benefits.
    I myself am incredibly glum.

  14. At least Harriet was good.
    Alec – Is she right that the measures the growth rate from 2.6 – 3.3%., I wonder how much tax revenue this costs?

  15. the budget measures reduce the growth rate that is according to OBR.

  16. Down from 2.6 to 2.3 in fact Jim Jam.

  17. @ Sue & JimJam

    I wonder where the growth forecast will be in the Autumn budget after the spending review?

    Down another 3 points – or more?

  18. The next GE will be like 83 but with hopefully a sensible opposition manifesto and no Falklands.
    At least dividning lines are clear without Labour having to lurch left to remain distinctive.
    Don’t expect much poll movement until after pbr and maybe until the new year and VAT.
    I think Labour will build up a lead over the coming years stating sometime in 2011 but as we saw last time it will fritter away so depends how big and which voters they attract.

  19. I’ve been looking at the Budget docs and press releases. For me this is a nonsense budget, with only three items justifying it:

    the VAT increase in Jan 2011
    the employer NICs ‘holiday’ for new businesses from some time in Sep 2010 for designated regions
    announcement to revise/simplify the pension tax relief rules.

  20. @Jim Jam

    So, in saying “will be like 83”, only without the Falklands and a sensible opposition, and of course with government position not being split by the Liberal Democrats, you mean “will not be anything like 83”.

  21. Just spotted the gov will create an independent Office of Tax Simplification. A new quango?

  22. 48% of poll respondents favoured an Income Tax RISE.

    Instead we have VAT.

    This budgetary move does not have the support of the public.

    Consequnce? 3% dip for coalition

    dont be surprised if Sunday’s polls read labour 37% blues 36% yellows ………………… ahem.


    On another note – QUANGOS (have to capitalise unfortunately as it is an acronym) – I had my first dealings with Ofqual today – newly responsible for exams…. actually they seem to be much better focused than the old QCA so fingers crossed. If I am honest I have a soft spot for them. So congrats, blueys for that one…

  23. Jay – I mean the Economic back-drop the 81 budget providing a similar dividing line to this one.
    I believe with a sensible Labour manifesto and no Falklands Thatcher would have lost in 83.
    As you say he coalition offers different dynamic…

  24. IMO this is an excellent Budjet. I am very please that spending not income is being taxed. Hopefully our spendtrift habits, built up over several generations, will be reversed and we can approach saving ratios similar to Germany and thus build a stronger more sustainable economy in the long run.

    I also think it was a good idea to delay it till January. This will allow the spending spree over Xmas and the early sales to be at the 17.5% rate. The new rate will come in over the January period of lower consumption and so will not be noticed as much. Many suppliers may simply absorb it.

  25. @Mike N – re the employers NIC concession. My understanding is that this is worth a maximum of £50K, but if this goes onto profit it would incur Corporation Tax of at least 20%, and even if the new company is loss making in year one, the losses to carry forward would still be lower so eventually there would be a higher CT payment due. In effect then, the concession is more like £4K per employee in most cases.

    My concern is that for somone in my circumstances I could officially wind up my company, re register a new company for £500 and trouser several thousand pounds for no net benefit to the exchequer. I can see alot of small and single operator companies doing this. I don’t know how much of a problem this is going to be but it will be one to watch.

    @Steve – of course they will like it. They know nothing about anything much other than what the trader sitting at the next desk thinks, and any notion that we should manage our economy based on what the markets want really should have been scotched over the last few years.

    You might recall a fascinating experiment from Sweden (I think) several years ago, when they took a chimp and trained it to throw darts at share listings in the newspapers. Each ‘hit’ was an investment, and guess what? The monkey beat the index as well as outperformed 83% of fund managers over a six month period for a total management fee of a weekly broadsheet, set of darts, and a small pile of bananas.

  26. For a bloodbath budget it seems from my perspective not that bad, even the VAT increase was something I was prepared for. This may not necessarily be the honeymoon period wrecker I thought it would be.

    Perhaps the going somewhat slowly was due to being in a coalition?

  27. The changes to the Working Family tax Credits are the big story that is yet to unfold.

    When the increased tax threshold & vat rises are factored in, will these 2x Average earnings ($40k+) families be worse or better off than they expected to be?

    I believe many of these voters are willing to switch between Labour & Conservative. How their pocket is affected could affect their vote.

  28. Alec “I can see alot of small and single operator companies doing this. I don’t know how much of a problem this is going to be but it will be one to watch. ”

    As I understand it, HMRC are to issue a Technical Note to put meat on the bone. I imagine there wil be some anti-avoidance provisions, but whether these will be sufficient deterrent remains to be seen.

  29. Although the in its report to the Budget the OBR has downgraded its economic growth forecasts it remains remarkably optimistic about meeting the ‘fiscal mandate’ and also on employment . I think it says there is something like a 50:50 chance of success. (Please note I paraphrase here.) However, ther OBR report says that there is scope for error.

    I’m left with the idea that the ‘independent’ OBR has massaged its comments to make them coincide with the Budget forecasts.

    So much for indepndence. But perhaps I’m just cynical and very sceptical?

  30. Channel 4 News not very impressed with budget.

  31. So, Top 20% and bottom 10% pay the most.


  32. VAT rise a very bad move surely? There were plenty of other ways, without opening themselves up to such lot of media flak?

  33. @KeithP – I said before the budget that this wasn’t going to be the big cataclysmic event. It’s bad enough, and Labour have been smart to put the boot into the Lib Dems, but the real damage will unfold over the next 2 – 3 years.

    You’ve really got to grasp what the spending cuts will mean. 25% cut from the Home Office – work out what that has to mean for customs and immigration, police, prisons etc – all issues that start to burn brightly, especially if we see crime rates swing up.

    Will people think its a great budget when education spending sinks by 25%? Apart from rising class sizes and teacher shortages, 80% of young people want to go to university – that’s a lot of families who will be disappointed.

    I’m not making any judgement on whether these are good decisions or not – I’m just trying to have a guess at what the public mood will be when they see what the words in the budget press releases actual mean in real life.

    It’s worth remembering that Labour got real credit in the minds of voters during the bank bail outs. They spent vast sums and people supported them. Then the bills came in and the support fell. The Tories are assuming people will be grateful to them for sorting out the mess. I suspect that if this does work many voters will just remember the pain and blame it on the Tories.

  34. One point worth bearing in mind is that if you take the combined effect of Labour decisions already in the pipeline and add Osborn’s changes to these, the fiscal tightening is actually 3:1 cuts to tax rises, not the 4:1 Osborne promised. I strongly suspect as the scale of cuts becomes apparent this ratio will inexorably move closer to parity over the next few budgets.

    My big worry is that much of the idea that cuts are the best way to engineer a fiscal tightening is based on researched examples that occured in periods of high global growth – Canada’s experience in the 1990s had as much to do with fast growth in the US as with their own spending cuts.

    Osborne is already increasing cyclical borrowing as recovery will be slower. If Eurozone growth doesn’t pick up, and if they are all doing what we’re doing there’s a good chance it won’t, the damage will be immense. He’s bet the house on black.

  35. @John Fletcher,

    “IMO this is an excellent Budjet. I am very please that spending not income is being taxed. Hopefully our spendtrift habits, built up over several generations, will be reversed and we can approach saving ratios similar to Germany and thus build a stronger more sustainable economy in the long run.

    I also think it was a good idea to delay it till January. This will allow the spending spree over Xmas and the early sales to be at the 17.5% rate. The new rate will come in over the January period of lower consumption and so will not be noticed as much. Many suppliers may simply absorb it.”

    I totally agree, John. Everyone can afford a rise of 2.5% on VAT, especially as it will not be on non-essential goods such as food and clothing. Putting it into perspective, a purchase (non-essential)of £100 before will now cost just £2.50 extra.

    No one earning over £40,000 should get child tax credits IMO. I think it’s scandalous that people earning more than £40,000 a year were eligible for child tax credits! It’s supposed to be there to help those on the lowest incomes, not subsidise middle class earners!

    Overall, I have to admit to being rather impressed with GO today – something that greatly surprises me.

    I will judge this coalition at the end of its period in office; if the economy is on the way to recovery, the double dip recession has been avoided, and the UK’s finances are much more secure, I think it would be difficult to criticise the coalition’s current handling of the economy.

  36. Correction: I totally agree, John. Everyone can afford a rise of 2.5% on VAT, especially as it*will* be on non-essential goods such as food and clothing.

  37. Second correction: I totally agree, John. Everyone can afford a rise of 2.5% on VAT, especially as it*will not” be on essential goods such as food and clothing.

    Got there in the end!! Apologies.

  38. Darling was headed for £1.4 Trillion Government DEbt in five years time.

    GO-after all the effort of this budget-and after using OBR’s lower growth forecasts-is still headed for £1.3 Trillion over the same period.

    This demonstrates , a) how much worse things would have been for Labour if OBP growth figures transpired-and b) the enormous scale of our Public DEbt mountain.

    I thought GO presented a well crafted, balanced budget, with aplomb , clarity & commendable brevity .

  39. @Colin,

    “I thought GO presented a well crafted, balanced budget, with aplomb , clarity & commendable brevity .”

    I agree, Colin. GO appears to be more of an asset to the Tories than I thought, on today’s evidence.

  40. Labour have long dreamed of being a catch all party. They have long dreamed of calling lower middle class voters- natural labour voters…

    Today george Osborne acheived that for reds….

    By targetting the Middling Classes – he unintendedly draws a dividing line….

    The more I see of blues the less I rate their prospects of electoral victory in 4 years and 10.5 months time.

  41. @Eoin,

    I disagree. The more I see of the blues, the more I think they are of pulling off a victory at the next GE.

  42. Managed to read through all the documents, including annexes…

    I agree with those who said that it won’t have an immediate affect on the voting intentions- except if the media reports it thoroughly and relatively honestly. In that case, the effect will be quite immediate and could affect the LibDems within Parliament and outside.

    I would not have believed that I would see a document with monetarist argument from the Treasury in 2010. That’s really bad (not to mention quoting Stiglitz et al. out of context).

    The breakdown of some of the measures are not estimated anywhere in the documents – there is no sensitivity analysis (not surprising – I doubt if they had time for that, so I don’t blame the government for it, but then the arguments are quite vacuous.) E.g. support to businesses (it said to support SMEs in fast growing sectors. The two fastest growing SME sectors (actually, the only fast growing) in the last ten years were real estate and construction).

    The forecast puts the BoE to a position, where it must increase interest rates (inflation forecast is above 2% till the end of 2012) – perhaps this was the reason for giving extra responsibilities to the central bank, so that it could wriggle out of it. If this does not work, an interest rate increase would put the budget and with that the coalition in a horrible position.

    But as I said I doubt if the budget had an immediate effect.

  43. Simon Hughes , on the Budget :-

    “Millions of pensioners and others on low incomes will be helped and people with greater wealth will contribute most. Of course [this] is a coalition budget requiring compromise on both sides, but the country can clearly see that in government Liberal Democrats already have a major influence on UK economic policy. From now on, Britain will clearly be a fairer place.”

    Wow-if he thinks this is a fair Budget, our Lord himself would be circumspect about declaring otherwise ;-)

  44. @ Matt

    An additional reason why the VAT rise was put off to January was that the restoration to 17.5% will have worked its way out of the annual figures then, so the impact on that month’s inflation will be less. Inflation is going to be a real problem over the next couple of years and they don’t want a massive jump in the index that might kick off a spiral. Even so Mervyn King’s going to be doing a lot of letter writing.

    Actually I think the relatively undramatic impact of the VAT restoration made it almost certain that any government would have put VAT up this time. In addition all businesses now know what to do with a change so there will be less technical problems.

  45. 49% blame the Labour gov.

    fair enoguh


    59% voted blue/yellow

    permit me a Q.

    Where have the other 10% gone?

    Only one winner electorally today

    all polling evidence indicated that ordinary folk would rather pay higher income tax than let pensioners, children and the impoverished pay VAT.

    Eltectorally and polling wise- a sad day for Britain

  46. Anthony

    Has any checking been done with regard to if panel members are actually registered to vote? The Electoral Commission report on registration in March claimed that 56% of 17-24 year-olds were unregistered and also 49% of private sector tenants. (If these figures sound familiar Harman raised them at PMQs a couple of weeks ago on a different topic).

    The reason why I ask is because these groups could be also strongly Lib Dem at the last election and may be well represented in the panel – but if they can’t vote, it might skew the figures.

    It’s interesting that YouGov are now deciding to adjust for education level. Are you finding voting preference is affected by this even after factors such as age are taken out? I assume you are able to adjust for the increase in graduates in the last decade (this is one of the problems of being at the end of a census cycle).

    We may be moving to a situation such as in the USA where education level can sometimes seem a better indicator than class.

    On that subject it could be breaking the class divide down further will not be helpful. Psephologists have been dissatisfied with the usefulness of the current class analysis for decades (I remember Curtice et al trying to do a new system after the 1983 election) and current figures show surprisingly little effect of class on voting intentions. The ABC1C2DE divide has been going since God was a lad (though presumably still A with archangels as Bs etc) and it may be what it gains in historic comparability it loses in relevance.

    I do still wonder if you have sufficient representation of traditional working-class elderly voters; they are least likely to be internet-savvy and most likely to be strongly Labour – and disproportionately UKIP/BNP. I suspect they’re also most likely to be uncooperative with any surveys (must be all that “Careless Talk Costs Lives” in their childhood). I know you do some adjustment using class to compensate, but they’re such a distinctive group – and so likely to vote – that it may not be enough.

  47. Sorry above comment on wrong thread. Shouldn’t post this late. :)

  48. @ Eoin

    “the impoverished pay VAT.”

    When Labour reduced the rate of VAT, IFS did a study on who would gain. It showed that the more wealthy gained most.

    This is because the spending patterns of those with higher disposable income include more VATable goods ( expensive imported electrical goods, cars), whilst those of the poorest include more Zero rated goods ( food & childrens clothing )

    The data was quoted in The Spectator Saturday, 27th December 2008 :-“Why VAT cuts help the poorest least”.

    In this Budget low earners get an Income Tax reduction.

  49. The Labour body language in HoC yesterday was interesting to watch.

    Even during HH’s high pitched response ( she does shrill hectoring so very well) , the opposition front bench were glum & un-animated.

    HH directed her fire at the LibDems. Her attack was purely political-trying to drive a wedge. There was very little intellectual content-and of course she is not a candidate for leader. One wonders if the elongated election has militated against a coherant attack on the Budget.

    Perhaps the “fairness” inbuilt to it has caused the glum silence on the left?

    The main response has been left to Byrn ( Newsnight) who seems to be developing the hopeless line that you can cut public expenditure without losing public sector jobs-and Darling ( everywhere), who is at least trying to put an intellectual case for a slower reduction of State Debt. His problem is that the tide of consensus in EU has moved against him-and UK financial commentators seem happy with the GO plan.

    Labour seem to be in a sort of limbo at present.

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