YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun got people hugely excited over the headline figure of 83% backing the child benefit changes last night – but the actual story is more nuanced than that.
The principle of limiting child child benefit so people on higher incomes don’t receive it is hugely popular, with 83% of people supporting it and only 15% opposed. However, that question was about the principle of the policy. YouGov then asked about the practicalities of the policy, and the way that a couple both earning £30k would keep child benefit, while a couple where only one worked and earned £44k would not. 41% of people agreed that this was a fair compromise given the cost of fully means testing child benefit, but 46% thought it was unfair and that the policy should be based on a proper means-test. So the principle of the policy is extremely popular, but people are split over the implementation of it.
I’ve seen a lot of assumptions that the 15% who oppose it is the 15% or so of people who will be directly affected, it’s a lazy assumption that almost certainly isn’t true. Look at the cross breaks of any poll and you’ll find people do not vote nearly as much with their pocketbooks as you’d think. Obviously in most cases people who suffer from a policy are more likely to oppose it and people who benefit from it are more likely to support it, but it is rarely if ever black and white. There aren’t income cross breaks in the table, but looking at the other cross breaks, 21% of Labour supporters oppose the idea, compared to 9% of Conservative supporters. 18% of ABC1s oppose it, but so do 10% of C2DEs.