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.

416 Responses to “83% support limiting child benefit, BUT…”

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  1. Eoin
    Expand and discuss do!

  2. Howard,

    I am too tired (this evening) to face a backlash for my views. I just think a LDs 10% beckons and that would be a 13 year low.

  3. Eoin,

    Any thoughts on the Shadow Cabinet?

  4. Yes I gathered you were ‘elsewhere’ today. I shall look foward to those pearls when you are refreshed.

  5. Gary K,

    10 women (RW & HH) Yeehaa! :)

    Denham, Khan and Alexander and three heavyweights for the next decade. I was pleased Byrne creeped in there and I am happy about murphy. No disrespect to Hain & Bradshaw but I wont miss them. I am annoyed Flint and Jowell are in there- I don’t think they offer us much. If we say the big ministries are Tresaury, education, Health, home Office, justice, foreign Office, Business, work and Pensions then I hope th efollwing 8 get them- denham, cooper, balls, burhnam, harman, khan, alexander, and byrne. (I hope we can squeeze murphy in there somewhere too). It is a soild front bench. Blues will be mildly respectful of the strength of depth.

  6. Yvette Cooper as Shadow Chancellor I really like. She’s the most talented member of the Shadow front bench, and economic matters is her strength. But would that cause too much friction with her other half?

    And Sadiq Khan had always impressed me. And he has a chant – Yes we Khan! Oh well. Maybe he shouldn’t advertise that…

  7. I’ll be very surprised if there is a bounce for blues, DC’s speech was a continuation of the ‘prepare the ground’ theme, and those ‘sunlit uplands’ look all too distant to most. At a guess 43/40/11….

  8. I am feeling smug. I had 18 of the 19 correct. I didn’t have them in the actual order – though I did have YC at no. 1; I had Andy B at 2, Ed B at 3 & John Healey at 4. I won’t bore you with the rest. ;-)

    I thought Ben Bradshaw would pip Liam Byrne. That was my 1/19 error. 8-)

  9. The Guardian has a story that it will take 10 years before any savings are realised from the abolition of up to 180 quangos due to pensions, redundancy money, contracts and ongoing liabilities etc

    Hmm….Deficit reduction or ideology?

    h ttp://

  10. Difficult for the voters. Politics seems to have been taken over by aliens. Who is Mary Creagh?

  11. MP from my neck of the woods, Wakefield

  12. I think that the Tories will do well in the polls tonight for the simple reason that baby Cameron was all over the front pages today.

  13. In the absence of Julian or daniel I went and hoked (do you guys use that word?) out the VI and Approval…


    Gov approval +3%

    Gov approval is now consistently back up- it has not had this 3 day rolling average since July.

  14. Amber,
    I won’t go beyond to the remainder of your Mystic Megism but how did you have John Healey 4th? In the 19 maybe but given many reds will be unaware of his existence, what did he do to merit that high a ranking from you or the party? And what do you see him getting? Was he a big Ed M man?

  15. Eoin


  16. 10 of the 19 elected to SC supporters of DM: Cooper and Balls in top three.

    Lovely jubbly!

    I predict a narrowing again at the weekend- tonights is an outer poll as was Tuesday nights.

  17. @ Hooded Man

    He campaigned for the shadow cabinet elections & he’s likeable & popular. 8-)

    Keep in mind, I was able to ask an MP or two who they were voting for & who they thought would do well. 8-)

  18. Howard,

    Sunday’s (last and the week before) saw red and yellows peak (15%/41%) I expect the same for blue. In addition, red elections will get a blaze of publicity. Poor Clegg was chattin to Martin McGuinness.

    But i’ll give us this- the remaining rump of yellows are a resilient bunch.

  19. It seems that Labour (or whatever they call themselves these days) politicians come from a smaller and smaller group of middle class lefties. They had two brothers vying for the leadership, and now a husband and wife and two sisters in the shadow cabinet. This seems a little rum to me. Is there such a small demographic group to choose from?

    The Tories are supposed to be public school and posh, but they have room for Eric Pickles. They seem to be a much broader alliance, and that’s before you even get to the Libs.

  20. Hooded man

    JH was very good when a recent government minister in my field- so not surprised to see him in the 19.

    Though granted I would not have forecast 4th.

  21. since child benefit was announced

    blues average 42.33%

    reds average 39%

    yellows average 11.33%

    gov approval averages +2.66%


    Reds should probably be most pleased with that. to average 39% on blue conf. week is darned good.

  22. @Pete B

    RE: ‘small group of middle class lefties’

    As PM and Chancellor you have two multi millionaire trustafarians form that longstanding echelon of society who see themselves as ‘born to rule’:- how unrepresentative is THAT :-)

  23. @ Rob Sheffield

    It’s a nicely balanced cabinet, I’d say. Good sharing of women/ men, Blair/ Brown, Ed/ David, Experienced/ New(ish) faces. 8-)

  24. @Amber

    yes I agree- it was tongue-in-cheek 8-)

  25. Rob Sheffield.

    At least they’re not related. Indeed Osborne is somewhat of an oik. I believe his people are in trade.

  26. PeteB

    They look alike though- I am sure they must be distantly related as that part of society tends to be ;-)

  27. Am I right in thinking that there is no one from Wales on that list?

    If so, can Milliband draft someone in to cover the Welsh remit (with a referendum on the way) or does he have to work with what he was given?

  28. @Eoin – “I went and hoked (do you guys use that word?) out…”

    ‘Howked’ is a word from where I come from, meaning to dig up or generally rummage for something. Sometimes used disparagingly when catching someone picking their nose – eg ‘he’s having a good old howk…’

  29. Pete B,
    They have a very impressive gender mix, and some very good women too.
    We’ve got……well, Warsi and May :-(

  30. alec,

    yes that’s the one :)


    conf. bounce- I said before the conference season that historically all parties get a bounce. If anyone rememebrs I also said that reds (when the dust settles) year in year out tend to profit by 1%. Put very very crudely, when the public hear all three messages they tend to shift redwards by about a %.

    We can be sure yet, since we have to wait until blue’s sunday poll but that has shown to be the case this time around…

    yellows +2.3% up (but quickly deflated).
    blues +2.3% up thus far- and no sense of sustainability’
    reds +2.66% up but with high sustaiinability.

    Red ed has barely spoken and the shadown cabinet publicity is about to go up a gear….

    I am a huge fan of submarine novels. (sad I know) but the periscope has spotted a 5,000 tonne tanker on its bow- it aint moving very fast…. and the aft tubes are being readied… :)

    Bring on the CSR.

  31. Pete B
    ‘It seems that Labour (or whatever they call themselves these days’

    Simply Red?

  32. Oldnat. Wasn’t the South African Hain in charge of Wales once? Obviously Welshness isn’t important.
    Hooded Man. Women should be at home cooking the tea.

  33. @Eoin – “I think at tonight’s (and Sunday’s) poll could be the most important for the Liberal Democrats in the last 13 years.”

    I think you might be right – although not necessarily on the precise timing. Daily now there are very serious signs that the rapid austerity approach is going to come up against a serious economic decline. Even the Treasury are starting to worry about what they have done.

    I suspect that pretty soon we’ll be talking about bail outs and stimulus again. If this does happen, Brown and Darling will look like sages and Osborne a complete pimple. Clegg will be toast and the Lib Dems will want out if their ratings stay this low.

  34. Old Nat
    Peter Hain was SoS for Wales. After that John Redwood looks a real ‘boyo bach’.

  35. @Oldnat

    answer is yes to both your questions

  36. Amber/Rob S,
    thanks for your replies. Does the ranking mean that John H is likely to get (expect/be able to demand) a more senior role?

  37. Alec?eoin
    As in when the Scottish captain was asked to explain a somewhat unexpected victory over England at rugby
    Response “We knew Robinson (now Scotland’s coach) was going to be off-side the whole game so we just decided to give him a right good howkin”

  38. Pete B

    Hain was MP for a Welsh constituency – which was the more accurate question, I should have asked.

    No one from a Welsh constituency? What are the rules for Shadow Cabinet, in that case?

  39. Alec if so, I agree (if).

  40. Oldnat- reported on PH

    Paul Flynn has just tweeted

    “Miliband must spurn simple democracy and appoint a non-elected shadow cabinet MP to the Welsh job. Otherwise the hot cawl will hit the fan.”

  41. Oldnat: I get you now. i suppose the Welsh wouldn’t be too chuffed to be represented by an Englishman or Scot??

    Maybe they can find someone with a Welsh grandad like they do in the football?

  42. Hooded Man
    No. Not necessarily
    There have been popular contenders who did not warrent high end jobs eg the MP for Coatbridge in time of John Smith

  43. Xiby

    Thanks – but my second question was an either/or!

    Did you mean that Milliband can draft someone into the Shadow Cabinet?

  44. Barney,

    I was a pugilist in my younger days but I have since switched to following rugby (union ofc). This is our year (not your’s ours ;) ) :P

    congrats btw.


    housing 3.6% did not look good. If unemployment is a lag- housing tends to be the opposite. I still remain hopeful we’ll get thru it but yes it is back seriously on the cards. I don’t think the UK would forgive the coalition for a double dip.

  45. Hooded man

    ‘Does the ranking mean that John H is likely to get (expect/be able to demand) a more senior role’

    I think- @Amber can correct me if wrong- that EdM can choose whoever he wants for whatever posiiton. For example rumours abound that neither of the Cooper-Balls household will get to shadow Osborne (though I think that would be a mistake).

    Obviously some account should be taken of MP’s preferences.

  46. Barney C,
    Ta for your reply to my question today re Donside prospects.
    Best of luck (on a personal level obviously!)


    From that tweet presumably we should assume that there is no procedure in place at the moment.

    Is Paul Flynn putting himself forward?

  48. Numbers for Shadow Cabinet elections:

    Cooper 232
    Healey 192
    Balls 179
    Burnham 165
    Angela Eagle 165
    Johnson 163
    Alexander 160
    Murphy 160
    Jowell 152
    Flint 139
    Denham 129
    Benn 128
    Khan 128
    Creagh 119
    McKechin 117
    Maria Eagle 107
    Hillier 106
    Lewis 104
    Byrne 100

    Thornberry 99; Hain 97; MacTaggart 88; Keeley 87; Coaker 85; McFadden 84; Goodman 80; Lammy 80; Timms 79; Bryant 77; Woodward 72; Thomas 71; Jones 68; Brennan 64; Blackman-Woods 63; Abbott 59; Harris 54; Twigg 55; Bradshaw 53; Wright 43; Gardiner 41; Hanson 38; Lucas 34; David 30; Irranca-Davies 28; Leslie 26; Flello 15; Gapes 12; Michael 11; Joyce 10

  49. Oldnat#2

    Newsnight just reported that EdM team confirmed tonight a Welsh MP will be shadow Welsh secretary- they seem to think it will be Hain who represents a Welsh constituency.

  50. @Oldnat

    not sure of the exact rules but yes he can under certain circumstances

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