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. Dear Roland

    At the GE the Tories received 36 (?) 38 (?) % of the vote. I remember all the talk on this site during the campaign about how they would get at least 40% and would do better in the famous marginals.
    They didnt.

  2. Absolutely Sue. I well remember Roland’s posts, when he was’nt on the naughty step

  3. Hmm Deja vu, I thought I’d just left the BBC’s have your say forums :)

  4. Some interesting analysis on the Labour leadership race if anyone’s interested:

    h ttp://

    I did as you allege think the Tories should govern alone or not govern at all. However, the skill and alacrity displayed by DC regarding our Liberal brothers and sisters, added to the fulsome displays of loyalty subsequently advanced by them, has gentled my position. We still have a 100 seat majority.

  6. to finish your quote Roland …”and Englishmen now abed will think themselves accursed and hold their manhoods cheap” Whoops

  7. TEST

  8. @Sue Marsh – “analysis on the Labour leadership”

    The poll was conducted 10 days ago, before the newsnight leadership debate. I wonder if there has already been movement as people see more of the candidates.

  9. Re: Lab Ieadership, any likelihood that one or more of the candidates might withdraw between now and September, and pledge their support to another candidate?
    In the days when the vote was limited to MPs for instance this would happen after the first round.
    All voting systems have their +/- but a 4th preference vote (second least favourite) of the first eliminated candidate does not sound like a ringing endorsement.

  10. dear Anthony

    thank you for a truly great site which has kept me amused and informed throughout the GE campaign and the aftermath. i must also thank all the posters for their witty informative and thought provoking comments. sometimes the comments have been a little partisan but i feel that this is only human. i must say that even though some of the digs at the libdems have been a little cruel they have mostly been very funny(closet cleggies had me in stitches) in fact i think the most cruel were the most funny. i don’t know how differently coloured people feel about partisan digs aimed at their parties, but i like a good laugh. i don’t like name-calling of course


    this is the only site i know of that is well balanced(i was impressed a while back when sue marsh pleaded with the blues to start posting again) civilized and intelligent. i was glad when you relaxed the rules and although i understand your concerns about wayward comments but i really do hope you won’t tighten up too much

  11. Does anyone know when the next economic report thing is? The one that tells us how big growth is (or not)?

  12. Re the budget. It struck me recently that voting in a Labour government is akin to the head of the household giving his credit card to a teenager. The teenager is very kind and gives loads of money to charity as well as wasting a lot and eventually maxes out the card. At which point Dad (the Tory Party) has to take over and start paying off all the debts.

    It happens over and over again. When will we ever learn?

  13. @ roland haines

    I did as you allege think the Tories should govern alone or not govern at all. However, the skill and alacrity displayed by DC regarding our Liberal brothers and sisters, added to the fulsome displays of loyalty subsequently advanced by them, has gentled my position.

    We still have a 100 seat majority

    don’t count your libdems until they are hatched

  14. @Nick OK – not sure of the exact date but it will be around July 26th and cover the second quarter (April – Jun) GDP figures.

    Not quite sure what it will show – consumer economic confidence indeces have been sliding since march and the April manufacturing output figure showed a surprise fall, but I would still expect modest growth.

  15. Pete B – “… the head of the household”

    You might have missed the discussion on Universal Child Benefit (week before last). Apparently some well-to-do patriarchal types are known to keep their wives and children in dire need, because of a rigid adherance to a set of convictions.

  16. Billy Bob

    I did indeed miss that discussion. I’m not sure if your comment is a continuation of my allegory or not. Assuming that it is, I don’t think it makes sense, unless you think that trying to balance the books is ‘rigid adherance to a set of convictions’.

  17. Aside from the politics of the budget, I’m wondering whether there is a bigger issue behind the entire economic approach.

    Throughout the GE campaign Osborne was very clear about his overall strategy – aggressive deficit reduction that would keep the money markets happy, enable low interest rates and weak pound, creating an export led recovery. The budget confirmed this. The treasury numbers show an assumption of a massive industrial investment boom and a big reliance on exports for growth.

    He justified the faster cutting and VAT rise on ‘recent events in Europe’. Curiously, those same events are already having a negative impact on his growth assumptions, but he has not altered his basic strategy. The pound is at a 19 month high against the Euro. This is our biggest export market, and if the EU debt crisis meant we had to cut the deficit faster, it also means we can’t rely on a favourable currency rate and such strong export growth. Osborne wants to justify the bad news with talk of Greece and Spain, but doesn’t want to let the same news cloud his rosy future view of the recovery.

    The budget measures have been heavily biased towards measures that will affect domestic spending. Options such as a temporary complete suspension of pension tax relief for 3 or 4 years would have been painful but would raise the £40b he wanted in a single stroke without affecting current spending, buying time for the structural deficit adjustment when growth is more secure.

    If Europe and the US don’t start firing soon GO’s hopes for an export led recovery will tumble, and if the domestic cuts start to drag down growth further and the deficit fails to fall the markets will not care whether its a Labour or Tory chancellor their shafting.

  18. Alec,

    I can see the sense of some of what you say, though the strength of the pound against the Euro is at least double-edged. For instance, we import more from Europe than we export. Therefore a strong pound will mean that imports are cheaper and we are effectively charging more for our exports, which should help the balance of payments.

    The reason that the pound is getting stronger against the euro (though not yet the dollar) is because the markets judge that the measures taken by Osborne are more likely to be effective than those taken in Europe.

  19. @Pete B – “It happens over and over again. When will we ever learn?”

    Perhaps you should learn some history? The ‘Barbour Boom’ under Ted Heath led to one of the biggest post war housing crashes ever (although few noticed because of rampant inflation) and left Labour in 1974 to pick up an almighty mess. Healey started applying monetarist policies well before Thatcher and by 1979 had repaid the IMF, but Callaghan couldn’t control the unions.

    Thatcher continued paying off debt, partly through privatisations but mainly through chronic long term underinvestment in public services. Brown largely repaired these, although in hindsight he spent too much (or taxed too little).

    I’m afraid your comments are a bit myopic and not particularly accurate. Try not to just accept myths and mythmakers but analyse them and test their validity. It leads to a much more satisfying level of awareness.

  20. @pete B – “and we are effectively charging more for our exports”

    That’s the point – GO is reliant on exports. We’re in dangerous territory.

  21. Alec,
    I agree that Heath was a complete and utter waste of time. I don’t have to learn this as history because I was earning my living at the time. He was only in power for less than four years, and he himself had to cope with the inheritance from Wilson.
    “Healey started applying monetarist policies well before Thatcher and by 1979 had repaid the IMF, ” This might be true, but no other UK government has ever had to call in the IMF!
    I do not accept myths, but interpret the tmes I have lived through in the light of experience. It is indisputable that Labour, for all their good intentions, ALWAYS leave the economy in a complete shambles. This is not to say that the Tories never do (e.g. Heath), but it’s not such a consistent habit.

  22. Alec / Pete b
    Super posts Alec. I worked as a youth with a man who had voted for the winner inevery post war GE. He rationalised that you alternated between wild blow outs under the Tories and the hang-over cure from Labour. Not just Healey but Atlee’s austerity and Jenkins’ refusal to be “Vulgar” and give some money back in 1970

  23. Judging from QT tonight, it seems that the poll is probably correct. While there was some doubts about the government’s story (VC’s Damascus road did not come across very credibly), there was certainly no acceptance of the opposition’s version (Balls played it not particularly well), not even about schools, where the audiance rejected the coalition’s narrative.

    So, Labour will have to do a lot if they want to use this whole thing for their advantage. Eventually they have to redirect the fire from the LibDems to the Tories (although for the time being it’s meaningful, but how long can it be kept up?).

    The poll is not surprising – some of the media is plainly the loudspeaker of the coalition, the rest of the media (with the exception of Ch4 perhaps) opted for the “dripping analysis”, so it does not have the type of impact to reflect in an early poll (or for that matter – later one). I’m quite shocked for example that none of the media picked up that one of the annexes sets targets for removing people from disability allowances (reminds me to conscription medical examinations at war times). Having said that the Tories tried it in the mid 1990s with utter failure. Targets in this field works only if remove doctors and patient records from the decisions.

    This suggests that until people actually experience the effects of the budget, there won’t be any major change – especially as the coaliton cleverly also uses the dripping method – they clearly won the propaganda battle so far (if they won the war – it’s a different question.

    But I agree with those who said that all will depend on the economy. If the 3rd quarter figures (or even earlier, May figures) are awful it would have a major impact on the polls. On the other hand, it would give the opportunity for the coalition to readjust. So, we have another variable: if there is a bad news, will it come out before the announcement of the spending review.

  24. Alec

    That struck me as odd too. Behind the austere mood music of the Budget was a belief that the relentless thump of the world economy would pound ever faster and drag the British economy along with it; somehow countering the effects of the massive cuts in public spending.

    Now to be fair the rise of the BRICs and co mean that the world economy is more diverse than it was say twenty years ago, but it is still a tremendous act of faith.

    And in a sense Faith is the problem. Osborne seems to believe that if he does the right things and and makes the right sacrifices (or rather we do), then he and the country will be rewarded. Whether his actions will have unwanted consequences or not achieve their ends is irrelevant – he must succeed because he is virtuous.

    Reality however will keep breaking in. The cuts may simply not be practicable and will have other effects. For example I’ve been surprised how little discussion there has been of how the inevitable redundancies of (mostly) low paid workers will inflate the welfare budget. This was a feature of previous cutbacks, but now seems to be ignored.

    Similarly the unwillingness in the Budget to really look at tax raising from the wealthy (beyond their coalition commitments, watered down as much as possible) seems to be based on a view of these people as sacred wealth creators who cannot be offended.

    I have long thought that current capitalism is an almost entirely religious phenomenon. Unfortunately we seem to be in the hands of true believers.

  25. @Roger Mexico
    “Reality however will keep breaking in. The cuts may simply not be practicable and will have other effects”

    BBC are reporting astudy in the BMJ about a correlation between welfare cuts and increased alcoholism/heart atrtacks… in other words ring-fencing the NHS does not safeguard health:- spending on other forms of support is more effective.

  26. @Pete B – I’m afraid you are being very myopic. Each government faces challenges and leaves a legacy, some good and some bad. Three of the four postwar Labour governments have inherited a broken country, and faced huge global crises while in office. Atlee had the job of picking up the pieces of the greatest conflict the world has ever seen and national debt thirteen times bigger in % terms that we have today. Frankly, they did a brilliant job.

    The massive inflationary impact of the 73 oil crisis hit Labour hugely and while times were very tough, it is very difficult to blame OPECs decision on Labour, and the underlying problems were just as prevalent under prevous Tory administrations. Thy discovered north sea oil under Labour, and pumped it in under Thatcher. Without the revenues from this lucky event Thatcher would have been out on her ear in the 80’s. That she sorted out a number of significant labour market issues is to her credit, other parts of her legacy not so much.

    Brown had to cope with the biggest global financial crisis for eighty years – he did this very well, but must take some blame for not controlling the financial system Thatcher initiated. He did leave us with a rebuilt public sector.

    What does this tell us about the relative merits of Tory vs Labour governments? Not a great deal. Legacies are mostly mixed, responsibility and credit doesn’t suddenly stop on election day, and chance is as big a variable as anything else.

  27. @Roger Mexico – one of the key problems is that the Brics are not important export markets for us – growth there is fine in terms of global numbers, but won’t really help us. We need Europe and the US to really pick.

    Unfortunately what we are seeing now is coordinated deflation across Europe, and while the US is quite rightly strongly warning against this, their position will now be weaker in the eyes on the markets and so will have limited ability to maintain any kind of stimulus themselves.

    I’m afraid I’m beginning to get that horrible feeling that Osborne and his deficit fetish friends here and in Europe have just taken a disastrous turn and we are repeating the errors of the 1930s when everyone slashed domestic spending, devalued and hoped for export led recovery. One or two countries can do this in isolation, but when there is no one to export to, hello depression.

    We took 40 years to get an 800% debt down following the end of the war. Osborne wants to close 60% in four years. Nowhere, anywhere, in economics is there a rule that says this has to be done this fast. It’s pure and simple a political judgement based on the electoral cycle – the markets couldn’t give a t*ss if it was a 6 or 7 or 10 year program – so long as it was believable.

    @Laszlo – I’m astonished that the media haven’t picked up on the fact that Osborne has just made the banks richer. Nice.

  28. Alec

    pls pls desist.

    This is a polling discussion site and let’s try to be non partisan!

    The above poll suggests support for deep juicy cuts.. Get used to it.. We need to survive .. Not go bankrupt as a nation.


    Given the severity of the public spending outlook and the impact the deficit reduction strategy is going to have on all our lives and given that no political party had the guts to lay out real choices at the General Election the main actions of this Parliament will be actions over and above manifesto commitments of both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

    In a democratic society the only answer to this conundrum is to have another General Election this autumn where all parties have another opportunity to lay out their stalls in detail so we all can vote with real choices available for scrutiny. This should happen regardless of any other political considerations.

    I believe that the seriousness of the situation is much greater than most people realise. A research report in the latest edition of the British Medical Journal reports that cuts in welfare budgets, let alone any reductions in NHS care, could lead to an additional 40,000 deaths per year in the United Kingdom. Are we really going to accept policies which could reduce life expectancy (including an increase in infant mortality) over the next five years.

  30. Alec
    Pleease don’t desist
    I am learning!
    The biggest worry must be that we are entering competitive deflation a la 1931, a game in which Britain is poorly positioned

  31. “If Europe and the US don’t start firing soon GO’s hopes for an export led recovery will tumble”

    GO has consistently-before & after the GE-stated that China & India are the export targets for UK, and that UK government policy initiatives will be focussed on them.

    Anyone who believes that the sclerotic economies of the beauracratic states of the EU will provide export opportunities in the medium term is dreaming.

    Remember -Sovereign Debt is ultimately banking debt (*) -and many many banks are still undercapitalised and extremely vulnerable .

    *= with the exception of those countries who printed money-like UK & Zimbabwe -were there any others?

  32. The post budget poll shows clear support for the measures being taken.

    It would be folly to suggest that the public weren’t prepared for these measures.

    The poll also suggests firm support for George Osborne.

    The poll also is conclusive that the finacial mess we are in is clearly laid at the door of the last government.

    Bearing these above factors in mind and without being partisan. I cant see any other direction for the polls than a huge Tory Lead building again in the next 12 months. It is highly likely that by christmas, when the economy is racing ahead again we will start to see poll figures of Con 48 Lab 28 Lib 18 . I may be slightly out , possibly 1 or 2 % !

  33. @ David B

    The more I read the budget and enter the figures in historic data series, the more I’m convinced that it’s a PR document. There’s no way for any democratic government to implement it as it is stated in the budget especially as the economic background just does not make sense (export and investment-led development) in the UK. Even if GO wanted it, political processes would stop him.

    Maybe it’s just my twisted thinking but I guess the government will say that we cannot do this, because of the changed environment and the review results, thus for achieving our deficit reduction aims we will have to cut the benefit system even further. Or if they think they can politically get away with it – they’ll cut the NHS (“efficiency saving” is the euphemism).

  34. @ Colin

    “with the exception of those countries who printed money-like UK & Zimbabwe -were there any others?”

    USA (and a massive scale) and the euro zone (but the latter one at a much smaller scale mainly through changing the rules on rediscounting securities and auctions)…

  35. Whilst Alec has dealt with Pete B’s claims on Labour and the economy, I’ve just finished a report on the effect of the cuts and historic UK debt/deficit levels and I feel a bit sick, so I’d just like to add, that the ONLY time the deficit went up in post war Britain was from 92 – 95 under the TORIES.
    Labour paid DOWN the Tory debt and it was actually 6 billion lower until the credit crunch hit.

    It is a total myth that Labour spent more than they could afford before the crisis hit.

    Know what else? Our total debt has actually gone DOWN since the peak of the credit crunch, (by 30 billion) it is our GDP that has fallen like a stone, making the percentage of debt increase rapidly.
    Conclusion? The private sector collapsed. Without the public sector you have nothing.

  36. @ Colin

    The last congress of the CP of China stated that it had a preference of domestic production (both local and foreign) to imports.

  37. Laszlo

    Are you saying there will be NO export opportunities in the Chinese market?

  38. “The poll also is conclusive that the finacial mess we are in is clearly laid at the door of the last government.”
    – – – arrived at by posing a ‘multiple choice’ question with only two options – a) this government or b) the previous one.

    Presumably the omission of option three – ‘International banking collapse’ was a mere oversight.

  39. @ Colin

    Of course I don’t say that. There are many – although mainly components and not final products (which is good for the UK).

    My point is the contribution of exports to the GDP has been around minus 0.3. And it needs to be changed around perhaps to the tune of plus 0.5% in a very short period. Penetrating export markets such as the Chinese (I don’t know enough of the Indian) in this scale and this time frame is just extremely unlikely.

    Also, don’t forget that most of these things “all other factors unchanged” – what will others do? If the export to China is such a possibility for the UK, then it is for the others too (Germany, Japan, France are all bigger and competitive exporters), so then it’s competition that undermines the forecast again.

  40. @ Anthony

    Are you expecting other polling companies to change there methodology to follow YouGov ?

  41. Wayne – I’d expect them to review their methodologies in their own ways and possibly update them, but the changes themselves won’t be the same (for example, most phone pollsters already used the sort of social class split that YouGov have shifted to, and hardly anyone else uses newspaper readership anyway.)

    After elections tends to be a time for pollsters to take stock – most of the changes YouGov made had little to do with the Lib Dem overstatement and were just a good opportunity to make some improvements, and other companies may do the same.

    Equally, other companies may decide they need to make some adjustments in order to account for getting the Lib Dems wrong at the election.

    Now, please stop baiting Sue (and Sue, please stop rising to it)

  42. @Sue
    This is not a partisan comment but I don’t understand your figures. Have I misunderstood your post? Is the article confusing debt and deficit?
    The deficit has regularly gone up and down since the war. It is a function of the point in the economic cycle and we had some surplus years but more recently deficits under both parties.
    There were surplus years from 1998 to 2001, a period when GB followed his predecessors spending plans. The debt was reduced in these years.The deficits started again in 2002 and by 2003 had wiped out the surpluses of 98-02 and the debt had started to rise again before the economic meltdown.
    The debt ,as opposed to the deficit, has continued to rise for most of the period. In recent history 1988-89 and 1998-2001 are the exceptions.
    Since the peak of the crisis we have run deficits and therefore our debt must be higher in absolute terms. It will also be higher in debt/gdp terms as gdp has fallen as well.

  43. “The coalition government is rethinking plans to introduce an immigration cap – a flagship Conservative policy during the election campaign – amid fears that it could damage the economy, it was reported today.

    The home secretary, Theresa May, will begin consultation with businesses on the policy next week.”

    Interesting – a potential change of position by the coalition on a subject that polled very high on the top issues during the GE campaign. 8-)


    I’m in touch with a few people who would be very interested in your findings:

    [email protected]
    [email protected]
    micha[email protected]

    -perhaps you should copy them in.

  45. That’s intereting Amber – what’s your source and is there any detail on the reasoning behind it – why it is now felt that an immigration cap might damage the economy?

  46. Laszlo @ 10.32 am

    I sincerely hope that UK’s industrial entrepreneurs & exporters -not to mention it’s Government-have a more positive & can-do approach than you ,to repairing the shattered wreck of it’s economy.

    I have confidence that they do.

    Apparently comes from the FT. Coverage of it on Conservative Home. Clearly the City wants a bit of flexibility.

  48. “The white paper got bounced back because there was no way the Treasury could sign up to a proposal which handed £80bn (80% of the NHS budget, apparently) of public money to 35,000 GPs who are basically unaccountable private businesses,” said one official.

    The first rebellion comes not from the Dems but the from the treasury. I wonder how this policy will play with the public. My guess: it will depend on what people think of their GP. 8-)

  49. Fantastic news.

    The Government has called in the mad Lydd Airport expansion proposal for Public Enquiry.

    On the day that Britains’ first pair of breeding Purple Herons are revealed to have produced young at RSPB Dungeness; conservationists and supporters of the unique natural habitats of the Peninsula & Romney Marsh, can breath a sigh of relief.


    FT & Guardian both covering the story. There’s not much meat on the bone regarding reasons why the City or business would be unable to recruit the people they need from within Europe.

    It’ll be interesting to see if the story is picked up by other news outlets. Also, will the voters react or is immigration a subject that they care about without it changing the way they vote?

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