YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has voting intention figures of CON 42%, LAB 37%, LDEM 13%. It’s a higher Conservative lead than YouGov have shown recently, and the highest Lib Dem score from YouGov for a while – but nothing that couldn’t just be normal random variation. What it does suggest is that the continuing row over housing benefit is not damaging the government. Full tables are here.

On that specific issue, YouGov asked again about support for the cap on housing benefit, and found 72% of people in favour (this is much in line with the levels of support YouGov found when the cap was first announced in the budget back in June, althought the question itself was not the same so you cannot draw a conclusion about support going up or down).

The regular trackers are broadly positive for the government. David Cameron’s approval rating is up to plus 15, from a low of plus 8 a week ago and people’s opinion of whether the government is managing the economy well is back in positive territory after falling into negative territory a week ago.

Ed Miliband’s approval rating has dropped to plus 2, as those thinking he is doing a bad job rises to 32%. This is largely following the normal pattern for party leaders – when they first become leader people give them the benefit of the doubt for a couple of weeks. After a while supporters of other parties start giving them negative answers and leader’s net ratings fall.

Impressions of the state of the economy have risen following the announcement of GDP figures – 7% think the economy is in a good state, 70% a bad state. While extremely pessimistic, the net figure of minus 63 is actually the highest since the end of July and start of August… straight after the last lot of GDP figures were announced. The boost in optimism then didn’t last very long.

YouGov also asked some questions about Europe. Unsurprisingly people overwhelmingly thought that Britain paid too much towards the European Union. Attitudes towards an expansion of the EU’s powers to limit government borrowing and impose greater budget discipline were more positive though. 29% supported the idea of gving the EU greater powers to stop countries borrowing too much, including the UK. 37% supported the EU having such powers over the Eurozone, but not the UK. We did also ask a question about David Cameron supporting the economic powers in exchange for a freeze in EU funding, but it was alas overtaken by events.

336 Responses to “YouGov show 72% in favour of housing benefit cap”

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  1. As often stated, the benefit cap policy is extremely popular with the general public.

    It is one of the few political topics I have heard discussed :

    a) in the local
    b) at work on the shop floor
    c) at the golf club
    d) at the workies…..

    Where support has been pretty universal amongst people from all parties. In fact there are even mumbling from the usual labour supporters ( ok not at the golf club because there aren’t any ) saying they won’t vote labour again for opposing it !

    As others have said, in the public perception benefit caps are very very popular.

  2. Today all eyes turn to Brazil and the second round of Presidential Election. All polls predict the victory of Dilma Roussef, leading an impressive alliance of 12 parties, from moderate center to radical left, over the center-right alliance of J. Serra. It is, nevertheless, interesting to see if the victory will be a landslide, as some polls predict (over 55%), how the vote is distributed by state and what will be the attitude of the 19% of voters that voted for the Green candidate Marina Silva in the first round. The Dilma alliance has already secured a comfortable majority (the most important ever for the center-left) in both Parliament and Senate in the first round. For those that interested in the issue, go to the site of the newspaper O Globo.
    At any rate, this announced victory is very comforting for us progressives, before the black tide of midterms in the USA.

  3. [Snipped – Chris, please don’t invite partisan responses from both sides, there are no party spokesmen here and anyone taking on that role for themselves hasn’t read the comments policy. This is a place for discussing public opinion, not the policies themselves – AW]

  4. @Chris Todd

    Probably because there are now so many buy-to-let mortgages out there.

    Its all about the public perception….

    Limiting benefits or limiting rents – especially when the press report so many people getting more than the vast majority of home owners could ever dream of affording…

    Which is politically more popular ? The polls have the answer ?

    It would be interesting it reds came out with that policy to see which way the public fell….

  5. As I remember it, rent controls were brought in because of abusive landlords like Rachman in the 50s and early 60s. The trouble was, they went too far and made it uneconomic for private landlords to rent property out, and so this had to be corrected. The pendulum swings back and forth, and will at times hit a happy medium almost by accident.

    Capping Housing Benefit is a step in the right direction, but the cap should eventually be much lower. When average wage is anout £25000, how can it be fair that some people get £20,000 in Housing Benefit alone?

  6. I have a general question about polling.

    There is now a significant number (probably no accurate figure exists) of people in the country who have little or no English. Yet many of these will have the vote (even if it is a postal vote filled in by a ‘Community Leader’). Presumably these people do not respond to polls, whether face to face, by telephone or internet.

    How do pollsters allow for this? Even if is only be one or two per cent, this could be a factor in elections and yet there is seemingly no way of polling them?

  7. really the reds need to get away from this issue, they only hurt themselves by attacking it head on, they should shift the debate to the minimum wage. if you asked the public if they thought it was right and/or fair that the state had to help working people with their housing costs, i think the answer would be a resounding NO!

    of course the problem is the ghost of labour leaders past. the reds have a certain amount of responsibillty for the problems we now have in housing

  8. The lib dems have got to be a little more happier with recent polls.the decline appears to have stopped somewhat.

    If they can hit 20 again then the pressure may just be put back onto to labour.

  9. It would be hard for Miliband E to find two more popular cuts to attack than the housing benefit cap and the withdrawal of child benefit to high earners. I posted a few days ago that Labour’s focus was strategically inept, when there are so many other targets to choose from, and I see no reason to change this opinion now.

  10. Hooded,

    Thanks for that. reply on the previous page…. [I’m off to bake apple tarts :) ]

  11. @ Phil

    I have been posting exactly the same. I said yesterday that they were becoming like the “boy who cried wolf” with their knee jerk opposition to every change, regardless of its popularlity or its common sense.

    Their only policy is that the cuts shold be “a little slower and a little less” and without saying where a single one of these cuts is comming from.

    Their only strategy seems to be that there will be a double dip and that their predicitons of doom come true. Since the possibility of this happeneing gets less and less with each set of economic figures this is hardly the best solution to regainig power.

    As I have also said, what IMO they should be doing now is putting together policies and straegies for a post recession, post cuts election in 2015.

    A measure of how rattled they are is the “ginger rodent” gag. To use your own words it was Inept.

  12. This round up by AW explains and the numbers from the poll validate, exactly what I have been saying since the HB cap story broke.
    Please, dont apologise for being wrong now the proof is in place on the board.

    If you wont to attack the coalition, join me in attacking any cuts in national security at this very dangerous time.

  13. Eoin,

    You’re welcome.

    Happy baking. I would have thought on the current theme that pumpkin scones, carrot cake and ginger snaps would be the order of the day! ;-)

  14. I don’t think there is any great surprise in this poll finding regarding the HB cap, but in many way’s it’s not particularly relevant.

    So far we’ve had a very well presented series of benefit cuts, that may or may not be justified, but with the headline based almost entirely on a very small part of the package that in well supported by many. As such, the voters have effectively been presented with all the positives and none of the negatives.

    This has played on the myth that benefit claimants are generally getting large sums from the working tax payers and are consequently living better lifestyles than ordinary working people not on benefits. I describe this as a myth, because it largely is – sure there are some gross examples where the system doesn’t work with sufficient nuance to prevent what I would term legal abuse, but there is no question at all that most people reliant on benefits are not well off and find life tough, not withstanding the fact that many who are working are also in the same boat but without the benefits.

    Where the polling damage will come, if indeed it does, will be once the actual effects, not the politcally spun projections, come to be seen on the streets. I don’t claim any expert knowledge on this, but respected (and independent) non political groups with extensive expertise in this field, notably Shelter, are indicating real fears that the impacts of the total housing reform package will be deep and extensive.

    If this comes to pass, we can expect the reforms to be viewed in a different light and with much less public support. I’ve said many times before that many of Osborne’s policies achieve pretty spectacular support in the short term before unravelling over time.

  15. What sets me of on an even bigger ego trip is the level of support for HB cuts amoung LD and Labour supporters. 52% of reds and 73% of yellows. If this does not show that the likes of Simon Hughes belong in the Labour party, I dont know what does. As for BJ, well he has the London vote to think of we know, but he will have to think a bit harder.

    There is clearly a large element of disagree for the sake of it, were Labour is concerned, even swarthes of their own people dont agree with them.

  16. I think Labour’s overall approach is right, but I agree that some of their specific targets are wrong. There is far more traction to be had from proposed cuts in services than from cuts in welfare.

    It does seem that the coalition aren’t quite the sitting ducks they might have seemed to be on spending cuts. Teflon Georgie strikes again, perhaps.

    And “Ginger Rodent” annoyed me, but it was a personal mistake not a policy platform. It was apologised for promptly and I agree that it will be chip paper in a week.

  17. @ALEC
    Your post is a classic of the genre. Tories always wrong. When they appear right, they are not because it will go mammary glands up in due course.


    LD support for HB cuts 78% NOT 73%. Tory suppot 94%.

  19. roland

    i’m sure that simon is perfectly capapable of deciding where he belongs without help

    shall i begin to suggest where bill cash belongs(AW would banish me to the naughty spep for life if i did)

  20. “…and found 72% of people in favour (this is much in line with the levels of support YouGov found when the cap was first announced in the budget back in June”

    So, one can argue that the focus on the HB cap in the last week has had not altered joe public’s views on this issue. Arguably neither Cons nor Lab have benefited, so although the Con share of VI has increased it would seem not to be due to this particular issue.

    I agree with Alec’s comments at 10.57am.

  21. i don’t know what a “spep” is, suggestions on a postcard please

    i meant step

  22. @roland – “Your post is a classic of the genre. Tories always wrong.”

    I’ll be honest Roland and say that you irritate me sometimes and you appear to pre judge posts without reading them. I just don’t get your last post.

    With the exception of the last sentence in my previous post – which was a personal viewpoint and potentially biaised – the rest of my post was not in contradiction to the Tory policy and did not claim it to be ‘wrong’.

    I said the benefits cuts may (or may not) be justified and that the headline reforms are well supported. I said that there are clearly some ‘gross examples’ of what I termed ‘legal abuse’ of the current system and I made it clear that I was not predicting any particular outcome from the reforms. I merely observed that if the impacts of these reforms fulfill some people’s expectations then we might see a shift in public attitudes.

    On previous threads I have welcomed the benefits cap as a means to reduce inflated private sector rental values. Others disagreed with me on this, and I may well be wrong. The Association of Landlords have said landlords will evict tenants rather than reduce rents and the House Builders Federation claims there will be thousands made homeless because of these changes. I don’t quote their press releases because clearly they are biaised with overiding vested interests in keeping housing benefits payments high.

    The jolly Sir Bufton Tufton stuff wears a bit thin. Read people’s posts and respond in kind. Yes, I’m generally critical of this Government, a bit more so than I was of the last (but only a bit). I know very little about the benefits system but I’m trying to see where it might take polling under different future scenarios. In this, I’m right in line with many Tory backbenchers in urban seats – do they think ‘Tories are always wrong’?

  23. John Rentoul just tweeted that Labour are on the ‘wrong’ side of every debate at present.

    Whilst I don’t agree with his assessment, it is certainly true that the debate is being framed very effectively by GO. In opposing, Labour are inevitably finding themselves on the ‘difficult’ side of the debate. These figures illustrate that clearly.

    Populist policies have a habit of being devilishly difficult to turn from crowd pleasing soundbite to workable reality. That both the HB cap and the CB cut are likely to prove either unworkable or far less effective in terms of savings than initially presented is probably a better line of attack for Labour. Most people won’t view these policies (at first glance) as reductive, but they won’t be impressed with incompetent implementation (already the coalition seems to have a problem with detail).

  24. If unemployment increases we will

    Reduce that person’s housing benefit by 10%
    put up VAT by 2.5%
    probably increase tax on vices such as alcohol/tobacco

    This human being will earn NO income and yet his overall income is set to be reduced by 15% or more.

    i have never heard one morally justified argument for taxing these people.


    Tax people who earn for pete’s sake.

    Bill Cash is a bank bench Tory MP. Simon The Daft, is whatever he is, Directer General President ect ect, so there is quite a difference. The point is he is clearly out on a limb on this one.

    @MIKE N
    “I agree with Alec’s comments at 10.57am.”
    Of course you do dear boy, 48% (nearly half) of Labour supporters agree with Alec. The trouble is 72% overall do not.

  26. I agree with Spencer.

  27. @Spencer – I think that is a good point. Journalists often have short horizons and limited imagination – even good ones survive by quietly forgetting what they used to believe once circumstances move on.

    I have seen some projections that suggest total Housing benefit claims will rise substantially as a result of the move towards higher rents in social housing and limitations on council house tenancies. I have no idea if such outcomes are likely, but not withstanding Roland’s earful, I’d like to wait to see the policies in action before I personally judge there effectiveness.

  28. Roland
    “Of course you do dear boy, 48% (nearly half) of Labour supporters agree with Alec. The trouble is 72% overall do not.”

    I haven’t been called ‘dear boy’ in years. Thank you.

    We all jump to hasty conclusions about what we think posters here mean, but I suggest you should go back and read Alec’s post fully. It was really quite sensible.

  29. @ALEC
    The constant bitching about everything the coalition do wears “a bit thin” also Alec. I should do a long piece on Ashcroft if I were you. Another grand opportunity to forcast doom for the goverment, that will never happen.

  30. I’m not suggesting it’s particularly sensible, but if increases in social housing rents are largely met by increases in HB, isn’t that just “churn” of taxpayers money sloshing from one account to another? Not necessarily a net loss to the treasury.

    For me the issue with subsidised housing is that it’s not means tested. You can have a tenancy on a flat on the edge of the City, paying 1/4 of market value, land yourself a banking job on £500,000 and keep your tenancy on the same basis as before (unlikely I know, but think “The Pursuit of Happyness”.

    And before anyone says there are is no social housing on the edge of the City – let me tell you there is lots…

  31. roland

    simon is out on a limb but he is still a libdem until such time as HE decides that he isn’t

    at the mo the blues are trying to kick half the the dems out of the party and the reds are trying to kick out the other half. but you both forget that it is our party. look to your own house

    next year will see the first defections from the blues to the yellows and from the reds to the yellows. i say this without a hint of partisanship.

  32. Neil A

    When you say ‘City’ do you mean the City of London, greater London, or all cities?

  33. Simon Hughes is not out on a limb. Mike Hancock, Bob Russell and at least 8 others plan to resist tuition fee legislation when it comes before parliament.

    Bob Russell has spoken out against HB changes for some time… the Murdoch press blackened his name a little so he has had to keep schtum.

    Mike Hancock, has bad press against him, which is forcing him to take a lower profile..

    Simon was elected deputy in full knowledge of the type of character he is… alone he most certainly is not.

  34. For Bob Russell’s dissent see here:

    h ttp://

  35. Cameron and Osborne will soon realise that they can make all the announcements they like, but actually making changes happen is a lot more difficult.

    I can’t see the government saving much money in the next 2 years and they will be faced with much larger cuts in the last 3 years of the current parliament. By then they would be extremely unpopular, as taxes will have had to rise to cover the lack of cuts actually made.

    My bet is still on this coalition failing by the summer of 2012, as some of the Lib Dems jump ship. I would not be surprised if there was a GE in April/May 2012.

  36. I am wondering whether the 29% who favour EU powers over UK deficits are pro joining the euro which would be logical? If so, this is a very high score for the single currency.
    Incidentally, regarding recent posts on the low saliency of ‘Europe’, I think this illustrates something I have noticed in polling I have commissioned over the years, that the European issue is so tied up with other questions: the Economy, Immigration, now Defence, that it is very difficult to get a true picture. I am told there are similar difficulties, though much less severe, with tracking the Independence issue in Scotland.
    Finally, what is the current best guess on the Scottish Parliament elections next year?

    Your party is a very recently formed coalition between disaffected Labourites who did not wish to be Marxists and Liberals. I have been more than happy with the grit and determination of the Liberal element during the term of the present government. Simon Hughes can attempt to wreck this up to now, admirable administration if he choses, but on his head be it.

    As for your predictions about next year, I really dont know where they come from. Certainly I would like to see LD deserters return from supporting Labour, but people leaving the Tories, I cannot see it.

  38. I may be wrong but I got the impression that the HB cap (as opposed to the cut) was openly ideological and not presented or intended as a particularly significant money saving measure. The ‘cap’ served as a headline to bury the more significant ‘cut’ as far as I can see. Clever.

    As it happens I filled out a CB application for my first born just this week (she’s five weeks old). I’m a higher rate taxpayer, so I’m aware we’ll only receive it for a year or two. However, as I filled it in I realised that they asked me nothing (apart from her name) about my wife. The form asked for my NI number, but there was no mechanism I could see by which my partner’s income could be discovered or assessed at all. My wife is still a US citizen (which is why we decided I should claim – less hassle), but does not pay top rate tax. Requesting this information from all current CB claimants would be a huge task and depend entirely on their honesty and compliance. Savings, or another layer of potential fraud?

    I honestly don’t think anyone had even thought about that problem when the announcement was made. This seems pretty basic to me, and does rather smack of a lack of communication with civil servants. See nearly everything which comes out of the Department of Education at present for similar levels of confused policy making. In the medium term this sort of thing will catch up with the government and filter down to public consciousness.

  39. Eoin

    Some daft comments have been made on tis site recently about Lab being rattled on the HB issue, but it is evident that there is within the LDs (and possibly the Cons) severe tension.

    I said on another thread that the HB issue could take on a llife of its own and bring about change. IMO this issue could precipitate sudden and radical change. The issue is the sort of thing on which individuals can focus their anger.

    There are three possible outcomes, IMO…

    – the LD MPs swallow it all, or
    – a LD MP deserts the party perhaps by crossing the floor to Lab, and this action serves as a valve releasing for a short period the anger felt by other LD MPs, or
    – the issue provokes a fundamental split in the LDs.

    We shall see.

  40. @R HUCKLE
    I think if the tribal anti -Tory attitude retreats for 5 minuets Mr Huckle, you would see that Cameron & Osbourn realise a very great deal more than you or the Labour leadership understand. But as they say in the Peak District of Derbyshire, “you can live in Hope if you die in Hathersage”.

  41. @roland – “The constant bitching about everything the coalition do wears “a bit thin” also Alec. I should do a long piece on Ashcroft if I were you. Another grand opportunity to forcast doom for the goverment, that will never happen.”

    Sorry Roland, but this is pointless drivel. You really should read peolpe’s posts. If you did, you’ll see from my 11.37am post (and some previous ones) that I have stated my support for the HB cap. I’ve previously given my reasons for it, but I could well be proved wrong.


  42. I don’t see why anybody could be surprised by the public support to the capping of HB and that half of Labour supporters also support it – I’m more surprised that half of them are against it.

    As it was discussed a few days ago by many here, the system of HB is a bad compensation for the 30 years of neglect of, and in some cases deliberate attack on, social housing. Consequently, if the cap happens, it will cut in the flesh.

    However, I’m not at all sure if it happens. If (and it’s a big if) those who know about the issue are right, the cap would have a very quick and broad effect – I really cannot see how it would be politically feasible to manage eviction of several thousand families in a short period (including children switching schools, redirecting post, pension, etc.). Suddenly the HB claiments would have a face. So there would have to be compensating measures, probably from council budgets.

    And this comes back to what John Fletcher said today (and earlier): Labour does not have a policy of dealing with the CSR at all and partly it is because (just as it came out during the campaign) in concrete (!) economic ideologies two parties are rather close to each other, partly because they still fall for the Tory tactic of dripping policy announcements making Labour to jump on it every single day, thus distracting from serious debate.

    Nevertheless, I think, Labour could take on the government policies and it should do it on two fronts: 1) concentrate on the implementation issues of the measures. This is the weakest part of the coalition partly because of the lack of experience, partly because of the above mentioned tactic, partly because they are too preoccupied with ideological messages (as they are really good in that one). 2) Send out the researchers to find people, real ones – not the type they referred to during the debates – with lots of details (shopping bill, spending, etc.), familiar to people and give a face to those cuts (not the downtrodden, but the ones whom most of the people would have a drink with). The more people they find the better it is. Put the question constantly: what happens to Mrs C after this? Why does Mr X has to suffer? These two steps can change the polling.

    Only after this there is a need for a positive programme. However, I don’t think that the Labour Party is in the state at the moment to develop one. Since there is the burden of 13 years (partly imaginary, partly real), it has involve debates about the fundamental issues on what and how the Labour Party sees Britain should look like (economic governance, role of the state, future of the welfare state, relationship to Europe, regional policy, taxation, economic policy, etc.) – such a debate at the moment would probably break up the Labour Party. Hence the constant seeking of compromises and the reflection of these compromises in the pitiful response to a not particularly competent CSR.

  43. Mike N,

    Yes I agree with that. I would add two caveats. If you are going to politically position yourself to prosper from a political debate you must alwasy take what I call teh bethamite line. “The greatest happiness for the greatest number”. The best visual way to describe this, is to imagine a deck of cards built in a pyramid syle fashion, or indeed the battle of stalingrad, or indeed in the words of Sun Tzu, “choose your battleground”.

    Targetting blues on behalf of yummy mummies or 21,000 HB claimants is the opposite of this strategy. IT is the equivalent of trying to win a boxing match in round one. Ill thought and hasty.

    To get the public to listen, or respect your argument, you have to earn currency. That is done by pursuing a dialectic line. Put simply, choose the rpecise tipping point that attracts the most sympathy, and affects the most people.

    In a geordie steel worker finds himslef unemployed, and struggles to get work 12 months on… why should his relative payment to the state, or money in his pocket, decline by 15% (VAT, HB reductions etc. etc.). As Alec has pointed out, the real losers in HB will be the 750,000 people who face supposedly ‘small’ reductions. £32 a month cut to your HB is not a small reduction. Add it to VAT, child trust fund cuts, or cuts to the nursery care element of CTC, and it all adds up. If ‘we’ pick that patch of land to plant our flag, it will leave blue in a much weaker position. As OCtober ends, I am going to try and pretend it did not happen. Ed’s first month was too principled, and ill fitted to the current Zeitgesit of the public. I understand his gamble, “Create reds as the catch all party” Attract “the queezed middle classes”. Families on £86k revile Labour and they always will. Chasing their vote is sycophantic, and delusional.

  44. The bottom line, look at the polls….Its a polling site after all, and the evidence is pretty clear. Everything else is tribal and in the eye of the beholder…you say regressive I say progressive la la la

    The polls say the public love ( or as close as you can get to love ) the idea of the HB cut…..Anecdotal conversations support this as well….

    So people can talk whatever party politics they like, this is clearly a very popular move.

  45. @ Spencer

    I agree with you and I think a very large proportion of the CSR comes under the same heading.

  46. @ Simplesimon

    Yes, this is correct, thus the only chance of the Labour Party to attack it is not attacking the cap on HB, but cap on Mr X’s, Mrs D’s, etc. HB.

    Then the cap would not be so popular.

  47. It has struck me as very indicative of Ed M’s calibre that he chooses to highlight at PMQs two of the policies that are most popular with the public, presumably because he can score debating points that resonate with lefty politicos and journalists.

    Unless and until he gets some credible policies he will not be take seriously except by said politicos and journos.

  48. EM has come in for some stick but it is worth keeping in mind the circumstances in which he leads Lab.

    We have a minority Con gov propped up by LD stooges etc.

    The coaltion could break down at any point.

    The UK has a large fiscal deficit.

    The gov proposes swingeing cuts across the public sector and in social security.

    Altogether this is a peculiar situation for a new leader of any of the three main parties.

    I agree with you Mr Simon. But you see we really must present everything the coalition presents as a likely cause of its disintergration. Further the public have been fooled, as it will cost them dear in the long run. Followed up by the fact that it will ,in practice be unworkable.

  50. @ Mike N

    Very good points.

    In addition, the noise in the data is really very large. Would be rather difficult to present a short-medium term coherent, credible set of policies without completely breaking with the past.

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