YouGov’s post-budget poll for the Sun shows a broadly positive reception. Overall 57% think Osborne made the right decisions for the country as a whole, with 23% thinking he made the wrong decisions. 42% think he made the right decisions for them, 33% the wrong ones. Overall government approval is up since before the budget, from 41% at the start of the week to 46% now. Headline voting intention stands at CON 42%, LAB 34%, LDEM 17%.

In YouGov’s pre-budget poll the two obvious concerns for the government were that the public were evenly split on whether the cuts would be fair or unfair (34% thought it would be fair, 35% unfair), and whether they would push the country back into recession or not (40% thought it might). Osborne seems to have made progress with swinging public opinion behind him on both counts. The proportion of people thinking that the deficit will be reduced in a fair way has risen 11 points to 45%, the proportion of people who think cutting the deficit now might put the country back into recession is down to 33%. Overall 50% thought that the budget was fair, compared to 27% who thought it was unfair.

Asking about the specific measures, all but one measure met with the support of a plurality of respondents, with the most popular measures being the rise in personal allowance on income tax and the tax on the banks. Reducing tax credits for families earning over £40k, limiting housing benefit, increasing capital gains tax, restoring the earnings link and helping councils freeze council tax all met with overwhelming support. Support for increasing the pension age to 66, reducing corporation tax and (slightly surprisingly) scrapping the planned increase in tax on cider all met with lukewarm support. The only measure that was opposed by a majority of respondents was the VAT increase – this was supported by 34%, and opposed by 54%.

Despite the overall approval of the budget, people were actually very pessimistic about its short term effects. Optimism about people’s own financial situation over the next 12 months has fallen, with a net optimism falling from minus 43 before the budget to minus 48 now. 55% of respondents said they thought the budget would increase unemployment in the next year or two (19% disagree) and 44% think it will increase poverty (32% disagree).

52% of respondents thought that the Liberal Democrats were right to back the budget, this included 69% of their own voters. 17% of Lib Dem voters thought that they were wrong to do so.

Finally YouGov asked if people thought the economy would be run better if Labour had been in power instead, or if the Conservatives had obtained an overall majority. In both cases people expected the economy would have been run worse, and found the same when asked if Labour or Conservative governments would have looked after the poorer better, or would have better helped people like the respondent. Notably Labour supporters overwhelmingly thought that the Conservatives alone would have been doing a worse job, perhaps suggesting that the Liberal Democrats will be able to sell a narrative that they have tempered a Conservative government (in fact, even 22% of Conservative supporters thought that the Conservatives alone would not have been as good at protecting the poorest in society).

The poll was conducted between Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon, so not quite as rapid as some of the instant reaction polls we’ve seen after budgets in the past. All the same, at past budgets we have sometimes seen bad news from the budget emerge in the days that follow, which could alter the public’s reaction. The initial response, however, seems to be that people see the budget as pointing to hard times ahead, but are broadly supportive of it.

281 Responses to “YouGov’s post budget poll”

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  1. “All the same, at past budgets we have sometimes seen bad news from the budget emerge in the days that follow, which could alter the public’s reaction. The initial response, however, seems to be that people see the budget as pointing to hard times ahead, but are broadly supportive of it.”
    AW’s final paragraph above neatly sums up this interesting poll. IMHO much depends on dissecting the small print, and the unfolding story as government departments and local authorities work out how to translate these measures into reality. Perhaps this will take a year or two or three ?

  2. Excellent news for the Conservative Lib Dem coalition

  3. As much as I wanted a Tory win, the public voted for a coalition.

    That aside, the horrendous mess left by the last government is going to take at least 3 years to balance the economy. I think polls will be at their worst for the coalition at the 36 month point.

    Then as the economy improves and the slimmed down public services show them at their most efficient the public will swing back strongly.

    I think that the current protracted leadership election will become irrelevent as socialists are unlikely to win, leading to yet another leadership contest. I think the next Labour prime minister may not even be in Parliment yet.

    As to the Liberals, the jury is out. Maybe the time for coalition politics is upon us.

    Who knows

  4. The polls are very interesting in that they support the coalition but this is not reflected in their support for the LD’s which is now down to 17%.

    This must put LD MP’s who are unhappy about the coalition in a very difficult position.

    Dare they oppose or even abstain on a budjet which appears to have public support when their party is so low in the opinion polls and will subsequently be blamed if it brigs down a popular coaltition?

  5. Lib Dem support will take a hit as on the face of it, they appear to have surrendered a lot of their policies for a few seats in cabinet. They are going to have to take a new direction when it comes to campaigning for another general election, as opposition parties jump on this. Would they campaign to undo some of what is done under their partial stewardship, I think not. This is going to make them look like a bunch of bandwagon-jumping hypocrites. Labour supporters disillusioned with the last government can no longer use lib dems as a protest vote as they would only put the tories back in power. Bearing in mind the small majorities a lot of newly elected tory mps hold, the next election could be very interesting indeed………

  6. Testing

  7. I watched Osborne and apart from VAT and a general sense of foreboding, I came away with the impression it could have been worse. The measures of £250 for public sector workers on a pay freeze, pension link and £150 extra for poorest children sounded good at the time.
    It was only a good 24 hours later, when the charts started to appear showing it was the poorest who would pay most, the jobs it would cost and people started to see their pay and benefits freezes as cuts, that the media started to form a narrative.
    The truly staggering thing is that the public are falling for the “It was all Labour’s fault” line. It’s like the Global credit collapse never happened!! IMO it will all now rest on results. If Osborne pulls this off, he will get the acclaim (even I would conclude rightly). However, if growth slows, unemployment goes up etc and, God forbid, his measures increase debt rather than lower it, the coalition will fall apart

  8. @Sue Marsh
    “It’s like the Global credit collapse never happened!! ”
    Too true. It seems that blues have won the propaganda battle on this one. This poll says that 69% of LD fans actually approve of their leaders supporting the budget. So they are undeterred by their ratings plunging to 17% ?
    Very odd! – time for another coffee.

  9. Keeping a very open mind and appreciating that any political bias is not allowed on this site.

    I must conclude that this was an excellent budget and the poll shows enormous public support for it –
    Once again emphasising that I am not being bias… I can see the Tory share hitting 45% and maybe even 50 by christmas!

  10. There’s no question that this was politically a very astute and well crafted budget, and that reflects in the excellent poll response for the Tories. For the Lib Dems, it looks like panic stations – they are taking the hit and Darling’s description of them as ‘the human shield’ looks more appropriate by the hour.

    In terms of honesty though, the budget is rapidly degrading. We now know from independent sources that Osborne’s measures were not ‘fair’ but regresssive, that the progressive measures were largely Labour ones already in the pipeline and that the presentation of the budget omitted the illustrations from 2012 onwards that show the poorest suffering and also omitted to model the impacts of the more regressive elements for some reason. Osborne’s claim not to be hiding things in the small print is, in blunt terms, a lie.

    We also know that Osborne has chosen to reward the banks with increased profits, while claiming to be attacking them with a fig leaf levy. I won’t claim to be non partisan on this particular aspect of the budget – it stinks.

    The key question is how much of this filters through to voters. My guess is probably not much, although I could be wrong. In the past we had two UK wide parties to attack government announcements. Now there is just one, and they are bogged down in their own post election trauma’s. Budgets like this are complex and from an opposition point of view need a fast but canny response. At the moment we’re not getting much of this.

  11. @Wayne – “Once again emphasising that I am not being bias… I can see the Tory share hitting 45% and maybe even 50 by christmas”

    I wouldn’t think so. I’ve said all along that the pain isn’t going to be seen at the budget. It will come when the cuts are put into practice. Over the winter and particularly next spring we will see what slicing 35% off the Home Office or 10% off education really means. These really are awesome cuts that no one in the history of UK governance has ever remotely come close to achieving. It’s going to be the equivalent to someone trying to run the 100m in under 5 seconds in athletics.

  12. This level of support for the Cons will surely encourage talk amongst the Con high command of another GE this autumn?

    It looks to me as though the LDs are in a very difficult situation. Several weeks ago I posted here that the LDs need to gve thought as to how theuy distance themselves form the Cons prior to the next GE. It seems to me that they are in a no win situation.

    DC and the Cons have played their hand well so far.

  13. As various people have pointed out, and polls have indicated I think, around one third of the LibDem vote is soft and this is reflected in their current rating of 17%. There’s every chance that the LibDems will be down to about 20 seats next time round but perhaps they won’t mind as long as they keep getting a taste of real power once every hundred years or so!

    Unlike one or two people above, I think 42% is around the best the Tories are going to get for quite a few years. I don’t think there’s much doubt that the new Labour leadership will be more than a match for Cameron/Clegg and [George Osborne – AW]

  14. Mike N – To play their hand well, the budget needed to unequivocally be progressive.

    IMO, today is as good as it gets. There can be no election, tis written.

    At the moment, people will say, “Oh, a pay freeze won’t cost me much…..VAT at 20% won’t cost me much…..losing tax credits over 30,000 isn’t too bad.”

    It is the combination that will feel painful and then when the departmental cuts hit…….

    A quick point here, many Tories have posted that all will be well if the economy is sorted out before the next election. Remember, the economy was looking chipper in 97, but the Tories lost and they lost for 13 years. If the country, it’s infrastructure and its services suffer TOO much in the bloodbath, it will not lead to an election win.

    On a positive note, there is to be a consultation of public service workers to see where efficiencies are best to be found. I think this is a fantastic idea and is the only chance of making savings without too much pain.

  15. The budget will have an impact on social housing in several ways. Caps on housing benefits will force many people out of expensive areas. But where will they go ? Local authorities and housing associations give low or even zero priority to ‘outsiders’ who want to move into their patch.

    The chronic shortage of social housing ( which Labour did too little about ) will worsen under ConDems. Ian Duncan-Smith would like housing providers to make it easier for people to move further afield in search of jobs. Good idea but IMHO it will never happen. Tiz a pity because a boost in housebuilding would surely benefit the economy in many ways.

  16. Cozmo – remember that it the break by Lib Dem voters is by their *current* voters, former Lib Dem voters who have switched to other parties (or none) won’t be in that cross-break.

    Note to all – please remember the comments policy and that this is NOT a venue for discussing whether the budget is actually any good or not, or critiquing or praising government policies. Discussion went off down that route a bit yesterday and I let it run because we didn’t have any proper polling reaction to discuss. Now we do.

  17. @Alec
    Wake up man

    Nice Big Juicy Cuts are just what the country needs and wants right now – people arent bothered by overpaid, underworked, overpensioned public sector workers, who dont vote Tory anyway… let them all see what its like too be frightened for their jobs

  18. @AW
    Yes fair points, all taken on board. I stil find it puzzling that Conservative ratings have improved significantly since GE day, but LD have halved.

  19. Wayne – that’s the most spectacular switch from trying not to be biased I ever saw!!!

    Cozmo – This feels like a Tory budget and a Tory government. The Libs are surely suffering from a lack of identity within the coalition. All their elements have been watered down.

    The Tories are doing what Tories do, hence the bounce, but the Libs most certainly are not.

  20. Very surprised at the polls. Excellent news for the Tories (can’t emphasise that enough).

  21. @Sue Marsh
    ” The Libs are surely suffering from a lack of identity within the coalition. All their elements have been watered down. “
    Agreed. Ratings might be affected just a teenzy bit by a friend of mine was polled by Yougov shortly before GE day. For most of his working life he was true blue. At the recent GE he says he voted LD. Now he says he will vote UKIP next time. Anecdotal stuff, and his one vote won’t alter ratings much. What I do find interesting is that, though now retired, he used to work for Forgemasters in Sheffield, which has now lost out in the recent measures. He says he would never vote Labour though. :(


    I don’t think that consulting public service workers about cuts via the Treasury website is such a good idea.

    I’m in further education and I don’t know anyone who is under-employed but I do know a lot of lowish paid support workers who are already losing their jobs leaving the rest to work even harder. This is even before the real cuts kick in and what is so sad is the amount of stress this is causing – the additional pressures on already underfunded NHS mental health services are going to be considerable.

    Most people, if asked to identify potential cuts, will look at work areas other than their own because, when your job might be threatened, self-interest takes over.


    I’m disappointed that what is becoming an increasingly popular description of George Osborne has been banned from the site.

    However, despite the fact that I think it will become an increasingly accurate description, I will abide by your judgement.


    I am disappointed that my comment agreeing to abide by your decision to ban a certain description of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is awaiting moderation.

  25. @Wayne – your comments will be frustratingly offensive to many key public sector workers I’m sure, but I’ll put that to one side in light of Anthony’s gentle reminder.

    I really don’t think the country does want to see ‘Nice Big Juicy Cuts’ as you put it. What we have now is a paper exercise saying X% will be taken from various budgets. No one knows or understands (least of all I suspect you) what this will actually mean in practice.

    For example, looking at the massive hit the Home Office is going to take I will predict now a wave of police force mergers, rural police patrol cutbacks and complete closure of many police stations in small towns. The rural population will then start to understand what 35% cuts actually means, and if crime is perceived to be an issue people will start to feel very uncomfortable. Three years down the track, even if the economy is responding to the medicine, you are going to have a very disgruntled population because they will see people in the city back to making money while their local bobby is up for the chop.

    I don’t know how old you are, but those of a certain age recall just how staggeringly tough it felt if you had any need for public services in the early 1980’s – and that was when Thatcher increased spending in real terms year on year.

    People respond to polls for widely diverging reasons. I doubt many will sit down and work out what is likely to happen to their area with these cuts before saying they support them. Even if they did, these cuts are so far beyond anyone’s experience it’s doubtful they could appreciate the impacts. Once the true impacts become real their views may well change.

  26. @ Sue Marsh

    I am trying to be as neutral as I can. However since the election took place the tory’s have risen by 6% that is quite remarkable.

    Anyway back onto polling discussions. We all need to stop questioning YouGov and their methodology. They were one of the most accurate during the GE campaign and final result !

    The current polling position is shaping up to something like Con 42 Lab 32 Lib 17. I can see the Tory position being something like 45 by the autumn and maybe 50% by christmas and then a snap election will follow !

  27. @Alec

    I will not engage in your line of tittle tattle and Diktat.

    please can we all stick to discussion about the polls. Thats what the site is for after all !

  28. Can’t say I am surprised by this poll – turn the clock back 6 months and few would have been surprised if this had been predicted as the General Election result. Thought that predictions on here in last few days of a narrowing of the Con-Lab gap were wildly optimistic.
    If I were a Conservative I would be feeling very confident about 2015. The public seem overwhelmingly convinced that – as Margaret Thatcher used to say – there is no alternative.

  29. David – sorry to be humorless, but all silly nicknames (or at least, all critical nicknames) of politicians are named, none are conducive to grown up, non-partisan discussion.

    Silly puns on Zanu-PF and Labour are banned, Bliar is definitely banned, Harperson is banned, Camoron is banned, Lib Dims is banned, Cleggover is banned. Any new things along similar lines is banned.

    Wayne – I assumed you were being ironic with that comment anyway, hence it’s still there, but – comment policy.

  30. @Wayne
    The only case I can see for an early General Election is if the Lib Dems pull out – that would give the Conservatives a good excuse and I have little doubt that they would romp home. That is why the Lib Dems have no alternative but to grit there teeth and hang in there. The Tories would I think be punished if they were seen to be breaking the coalition agreement.

  31. @Wayne “….people arent bothered by overpaid, underworked, overpensioned public sector workers, who dont vote Tory anyway… ”

    “I am trying to be as neutral as I can.”


  32. Sue Marsh. “Tories do what Tories always do, hence the bounce”A political comment surely? You clearly expect Tory policies to be popular. Wayne. How can there be a snap election? Where would the 55% come from?

    [I can’t possibly imagine the Conservatives choosing to make it happen at this stage (unless the Lib Dems suddenly pull the plug over the summer), but for the record, the legislation on 55% hasn’t been put before Parliament yet, let alone passed, so there is no statutory hindrance towards Cameron requesting a dissolution if he wanted one – AW]

  33. I would expect the Lib-Dems to have a big focus on the raising of the income tax threshold as this seems to be their main contribution to this budget. Will that be enough when the cuts start to bite – almost certainly not, I suspect.

    I would guess that the narrative of them selling out for ministerial cars will become dominant, but I’m not sure its actually accurate. I think having campaigned for a new kind of politics they then had to try and make a hung parliament work and probably saw stable government as being in the country’s best interests. They’re being blamed for a u-turn on cuts, but I don’t remember them actually campaigning against this. In the debates, Clegg was certainly not anti-cuts and Cable wouldn’t even have ring-fenced the NHS. There has been a clear reverse over NI though and I think the scale of the cuts will dismay many who voted for them.

  34. It’s always interesting watching how immediate responses change after the analysis kicks in. Labour’s last few budgets scored well after 48 hours or so, leading some to think they had got away with the bad news. It was the weekend polls that really showed a dive, so this weekend will be fascinating to watch now that the budget claims are being picked apart.

    Interestingly Clegg really struggled to maintain the ‘progressive’ budget line this morning and he has rejected the IFS analysis – a difficult position to take I feel given the reputation the IFS has for independent analysis. His defence was “that the IFS didn’t include in their analysis possible future changes which the government may bring in.” It’s a poor defence.

  35. @Alec
    Think the public are more focused on football at the moment! The chattering classes may be dissecting Clegg’s every word, but the majority of the population don’t. My reading of the situation is that the public at large is supportive of the coaltion Government, and willing therefore to give it the benefit of the doubt. At some point that will change, but I don’t think it will be quite yet. A significant section of Labour supporters are incensed to the point of obsession about the Liberal Democrats’ betrayal of “progressivism” – but that view of the world is not shared by most people in the country.

  36. “A significant section of Labour supporters are incensed to the point of obsession about the Liberal Democrats’ betrayal of “progressivism” – but that view of the world is not shared by most people in the country.”

    I think this is spot on. I think there’s also a real question about whether any of the three main parties over the last few years could be described as being genuinely progressive. I would say not.

  37. “A significant section of Labour supporters are incensed to the point of obsession about the Liberal Democrats’ betrayal of “progressivism” – but that view of the world is not shared by most people in the country.”

    I agree. That is Labour’s problem IMO. This is especially true (probably) during a time of economic recession, where most people think of themselves/their own situation more.

    The most encouraging thing for the Tories is not necessarily the voting intention figures IMO – but the fact that the majority of the public already seemed resigned to massive present and future tax rises (and spending cuts). I’d still expect, on balance, Labour to be a good 5% ahead of the Tories by the end of 2012, but these polls show that it may not be as straightforward as all that. I now have my doubts about Labour opening up a big lead mid-term for the first time.

  38. This poll is quite suprising. I was expecting a Labour surge. I think the boost in Tory support sugests that there is still a honeymoon period. The poll seem to me to suggest that the public are quite prepared to take those cuts. I am a bit sceptical of intant reaction polls for obvious reasons and I look foward to the next batch of polls.

  39. Re: progressiveness

    None of the 3 main parties can expect to exclusively clobber the lower and upper middle classes (to help the lower paid and those on welfare) and expect to win the next GE IMO. This is why it was a clever budget IMO. Everyone has had to suffer, so no one feels particularly victimised.

  40. I have been posting much less recently, I am sure to the relief of supporters of the opposition. The main reason is the repetition in my offerings at a time when opinion polls are (other than this one) IMPO less riveting than pre GE. However, it does seem to me that the public in general do put a degree of blame on the previous government and Labour are paying a price for it. I can understand Ms Harmans sputtering about the perfidious LDs in the House. I cannot help but be delighted in the Road to Damascus change which has overtaken them. Whilst no rational person believes that G Brown Esq, caused the economic crises, clearly very many feel he did not so manage affairs well. Labour have a job on.

  41. @Roland Haines,

    “I have been posting much less recently, I am sure to the relief of supporters of the opposition.”

    Not to me! You should definitely keep on posting. We need you!

  42. BTW, well done Europe for telling Obama to go stuff it on his call for more loony spending.

  43. Obtuse question – are there cross-breaks on UKPR?

  44. I didn’t think Labour would pull back a lead and said so.

    I also don’t think it’s particularly political to say that this is Tories doing what Tories do. They DO always spend less on Public Services than Labour and at the moment I think the public think that is what they want. It’s time for a bit of Tory!!

    But come now, those on the right, if you were all as sensible as Roland, you’d accept that a few announcements in the House aren’t the same as the reality.

    If you looked at the detail of the recent polls, you’d have seen that in fact public sector workers were slightly more Tory voting than Labour – the turkeys voting for Xmas.

    I’m not going to carp. I am personally heartbroken as my crystal ball shows me the future, but for now I accept this is what the public voted for, what they believe is necessary and what they think will work.

    As I keep saying, only time will tell if they and GO are right.

  45. I would describe the Coalition as a seven headed monster that keeps sprouting another head when one gets chopped off. Labour are in an unenviable position as they are opposing the two governing parties. I would say that would be worse then a slim Tory majority. I honestly think that none of the leadership candidates are up to the job of slaying the hydra coalition and will have to seize their chance after 18 months of Opposition.

    Note: Please don’t inperate my Hydra metaphor as being partisan. It is the way I see the situation.

  46. @ SUE

    “As I keep saying, only time will tell if they and GO are right.”

    That is the top & bottom of it Sue.

  47. @Sue,

    “As I keep saying, only time will tell if they and GO are right.”

    I agree. If we avoid a double dip recession, the economy picks up a bit by 2015, and National debt is greatly reduced, the Tories will have done a good job and will win the next GE IMO. If not, they’ll struggle and Labour will win.

    As I’ve said before, the good thing for the Tories is that the public seem to be accepting that times will be tough. They expect tax rises and public spending cuts. Politics is all about expectations, and the good thing for blues is that the expectations seem to be that such changes are inevitable.

  48. Oh come on Kyle, if I had to write an opposition wish-list, this would be it.

    Most of the Labour candidates are more than capable, but I suspect you’ll find DM is uber-capable.

    It will hardly be tricky to oppose this – IMO the economic figures will do it all, backed up by the grinding daily stories of coalition victims – the new Labour leader will have to do very little.

    GB enjoyed a lead of 44 during his honeymoon – does that put things in perspective? Tony Blair regularly got 60s and 61s in 97 (more than the combined totals of the Tories and Libs now) and was still polling well into the mid 50s in 2001. Let’s not get too carried away. 42 is a very very low base indeed to start from.

  49. The arguments that bandy back and forth at times like these are really tedious when you are 64 on Saturday and have seen it all before, (except the Con LD love-in.)
    Labour in and ultimately spend themselves drunk. Tories get back and cut like a demented Cossack to balance the books. I suppose the Scots can start hateing Osbourne now rather than Thatcher.

  50. I’m looking forward to some polling of public sector workers about their attitudes overall to the government’s cuts plans.

    I shall be suggesting that all members of parliament with assets worth over £1 million forgo any salary for the period of the public sector pay freeze. I will allow them to keep their office expenses allowance however.

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