A new YouGov poll for Channel 4 News yesterday found strong public support for many of the government’s planned cuts to benefits. 73% of respondents supported the idea of making the long term unemployed do compulsory work placements or risk losing benefits, 66% supported withdrawing jobseekers allowance from people who turn down job offers or interviews, 69% supported more stringent testing of people claiming disability living allowance and 68% supported capping housing benefit at £400 a week, “even if this means people are forced to move house if they live in an area where the rent is high”. In all these cases the policies weren’t just popular amongst Conservative and Liberal Democrat supporters, they were also backed by a majority of Labour voters.

YouGov also asked if people thought the government should have cut benefits more or less, or had they got the balance about right. 31% thought the government was cutting too much, but 58% either thought the balance was right (34%) or would support even larger cuts to benefits (24%).

These findings are very much in line with earlier polling after the budget and the spending review, which found high levels of support for capping the total amount of benefits a family could receive, reducing the welfare budget and freezing the working tax credit. While some of the coalition’s planned cuts, such as higher tuition fees, higher VAT, or sending fewer criminals to prison are unpopular, polls have almost universally found that cuts to welfare benefits are popular.

This doesn’t necessarily mean cutting benefits is politically an easy option for the government though. Firstly, the cuts have not yet taken place, and when they do come into effect there are likely to be many media reports of individuals losing homes or facing financial difficulties which could turn public opinion away from the cuts.

There is also a risk that while individual cuts are popular, it will play into a broader image that the coalition are cutting spending in an unfair manner, or are interested only in helping the rich and don’t care about less well off people. YouGov’s regular tracker of whether people think the government’s cuts are being done fairly or unfairly has shown an increasing perception that savings are not being found in a fair way. Straight after the budget in June 45% of people thought the cuts were being carried out fairly, 34% unfairly. In our latest polling 37% thought they were fair, but 50% unfair.

In YouGov’s trackers of how people see the parties, the Conservatives are increasingly seen as being prepared to take tough and unpopular decisions (59% thought this description applied best to the Conservatives in our last poll), but they are also seen as “appealing to one section of society rather than to the whole country”.

However, opposing benefit cuts also carries risks for the Labour opposition. At the simplest level, the benefit cuts themselves are very popular, but even if that changes with time there is also a risk to Labour’s image. In polling for the Policy Network earlier this year YouGov found people already percieved the Labour party as being closest to the trade unions, benefit claimants and immigrants. If the Conservatives need to worry about still being seen as a party that cares only for the rich, Labour need to beware of potential middle class Labour voters seeing the party as one only for the dispossessed and poor.

(This article is cross posted from the YouGov website here)

488 Responses to “Polling on welfare cuts”

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  1. @Éoin……From the previous thread, your description of the condition of our client base, resonates, however, the various agencies work with them to improve their lives, we clean ’em up and turn ’em round, to the point that they are able to face the world, and employers. Rough sleepers, substance abusers, ex-offenders, torture victims, et al., bring ’em on ! :-)

  2. @ Colin

    *-I’m duty bound to point out that Purnell b******d off because GB said you must be joking when Purnell proposed a Universal Credit.
    I’m duty bound to point out that it was rejected because it was considered technically unfeasible without a specially written, complex & costly IT program that would require the personal, financial & tax details of the majority of UK citizens to be collated within a state computer system.

  3. @ Howard

    There are going to be less civil servants

    ‘Fewer’ whoever wrote that.
    Perhaps s/he meant the servants would be less civil.

    Entirely possible, if they are unpaid, workfare servants. ;-)

  4. @ richard

    how do you like your haircut

    are you burning effigies of madam merkel yet

  5. @Roland and others,

    Labour will move many points clear IMO, as indeed the vast majority of parties do in opposition. I would be surprised if they aren’t 5 points or more clear by this time next year. However, the fact that Labour is not ahead at the moment given the nature of everything is very concerning in my opinion. A large part of this is down to EM not outlining Labour policies to tackle the deficit etc. People have to see the alternatives to the present government before they can have confidence in them.

    As for my earlier point, I think the working class (e.g. those working full-time but on low incomes, especially those who are childless) people in Britain are fed up with Labour’s direction. I am frustrated that society thinks more of the girl who bullied me at school and now has children, than someone like myself. I will have to work my whole life, without probably much chance of owning my own house. Even moving out seems difficult at the moment giving rental prices. Meanwhile, she undoubtedly has a place of her own. There is something fundamentally wrong with society (and Labour) when that situation happens IMO. It encourages those who haven’t got many prospects to get caught up in the welfare state. This will become a growing problem for young people like myself, as most, even uni graduates, won’t have good pensions/own their own house etc.

    Bring back old labour, I say! Rather than focusing on the rich and protecting the bankers’ bonuses as Labour did in office, they would look after the vulnerable. Instead, Labour can only talk about rich people losing child benefit! Their priorities need sorting out IMO. That’s why they have lost touch with the electorate.

  6. richard in norway

    The bailout will mean the bond holders don’t get burned.

    The German & French,in particular the Germans though had made noises about bond holders having to take losses,this will not happen with debt aquired before 2013 the Germans have confirmed today.

    Merkel has bitten the bullet to get this thing sorted.

    It also means that any UK bank arm in ireland will continue to put bad debt in the NAMA(Irish Gov bad Bank) which is & will be fully funded by the ECB.

    This means the UK banks will not face substantial losses on Ireland now.

    The Irish are being shoved into this now,i expected it around Feb 2011.

    The problem was it is effecting confidence in the Euro & Germany/France will not allow that.German & French GDP numbers today were weaker than thought.If this drags on for months confidence in the Euro will be shot.

    Ireland of course will have to cede Sovereignty,are you really indepenedent though when you don’t control your own currency?

  7. Referring to earlier posts, I would have to say that rather than blaming people who claim unreasonably off the state, I don’t blame them at all. People are economically rational on the whole, so they’ll go with whatever makes them better off. If someone offered you £x amount per year, would you not take it? Surely, it’s up to the system to ensure that the welfare state can’t be abused in this way IMO.

  8. Fustrated Voter!

    three cheers! I fully agree! :)

  9. Fustrated Voter : I agree with your 8.08pm. I have dissected your recent contribution yet..

  10. @Amber….Great idea, selling their own stuff back to them, I believe that amber is highly prized in Scandinavia. :-)

  11. It’s heartening to see how many people support benefit cuts. I’m not at all surprised that this support is strong among Labour supporters, because those who work will in general, be worse off than many benefits claimants. Yes I know there are many Labour millionaires, but the bulk of their vote is still working class.

    The cap on housing benefits is a step in the right direction, but is still far too high. £400 a week is £20,000 a year, so you would need to earn at least £30,000 to cover that. Add in all the other costs of living, and some benefits claimants will be on the equivalent of at least £40,000 pa when the average wage is about £25,000. How can this be fair?

    I think that this policy will continue to be popular.

  12. Just to clarify, what I meant by my post dated 8.15 pm, was that you can’t blame people for claiming what they are legally entitled to. If someone earning over £50,000 is entitled to claim child benefit, for instance, is not rational to do so? Whether it’s right that someone earning £100,000 can claim said benefits is a different matter entirely. Surely, it’s up to the system to sort such things out?

  13. Earlier today the Met revealed 10 of the 54 people arrested during sprawling outbreaks of disorder were aged under 18 and most of the others were students, most aged between 18 and 26, and including 33 men and 21 women.

    A man has been arrested in Cambridgeshire by police hunting for the protester at Wednesday’s anti-fees march who threw [or perhaps accidently dropped/] a fire extinguisher from a roof at police officers on the ground below…..The man, 23, who is understood to be a student from Reading, was arrested by the Cambridgeshire force at the request of Metropolitan police.
    So not the SWP, Anarchists or other ‘organised, left-wing trouble-makers’ after all.

  14. I wouldn’t say that I am a Tory or a Labour voter. I want the Labour of old back!!

  15. @ Ken

    LOL :-)

  16. We have symmetry ! The rich, and the poor, are ripping the rest of us off………! I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime, I am a fulcrum ! :-)

  17. If Labour, reconnects with the working class workers, they stand a good chance of winning in 2015. If they don’t, I think David Cameron and the Tories will win again.

    BTW anecdotally I can say that most people where I live do support the welfare cuts. There is a perception that Labour were more interested in the welfare state than helping those working on modest and low incomes. If they can sort this out, I think they might be back in business.

  18. Frustrated voter

    We had old Labour!

    The county was on the verge of bankruptcy.

    Strikes were at there highest since 1997.

    Tax was the highest in our history.

    Labour ran up more debt than every other British Government in history combined!!!

  19. richard

    so short back and sides, then

    i heard angela, bondholders must take some of the losses

  20. Ken

    “I am a fulcrum”

    So given a long enough lever, and pressing down on you hard enough – we can move the world!

  21. Is anyone aware of a problem with the Political Betting website? I am completely unable to access it.

    I am able to access all other websites as usual.

  22. @Richard,

    But they weren’t truly ‘old labour’. At times, they seemed more interested in protecting bankers’ bonuses and going to illegal wars, than helping the poorer worker. That’s why Labour lost my vote at the last general election. Until they sort the welfare state out and go back to helping the ordinary man off the street, I will never give them my vote again.

  23. @Richard,

    Of course, I also accept that you can’t hit wealth and wealthy people too much, otherwise you discourage wealth creation and entrepreneurship. It’s a balancing act. Firstly, we should resolve our bloated welfare bill in a way that protects the genuine but releases us from painful present and future national debt.

  24. richard in norway

    Na.won’t happen.

    Merkel is sounding tough for domestic audience.

    Think about this:

    Irish banks borrowed 130bn from the ECB last month alone,the reason? they are frozen out of the bond markets(borrowing costs too high).

    When the ECB borrows money for Eurozone members they do it through an official German Government owned bank in Frankfurt.They do this to borrow at Bund rates,this debt is effectively on the German Government books,all ECB borrowing!.

    Would you want to annoy your bank manager when you are loading up on debt?

    The hidden ECB debt is massive,we can only speculate on it though.

    The FED is open about its balance sheet,around $2 trillion(pre QE2)the ECB keeps its balance sheet largely a secret.

  25. Electoral Reform Update:

    A report by the Lords committee published today takes issue with the voting and constituency bill going through the house.

    The government is seeking to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and redraw the boundaries of constituencies. It is pushing ahead with the legislation at breakneck speed in order to have 600 MPs, with newly sized constituencies of 72,000, give or take a 5,000 margin of difference either side, in place for the next election.

    The Lords crossparty group has criticised the proposed legislation. It says the reduction to 600 MPs is not based on any “assessment of the role and functions of MPs”, and the size of the constituency – potentially seeing new constituencies like that of the proposed “Devonwall” crossing regional and county boundaries – needs to be better assessed in case they are “overly rigid”.

    They also say that reducing the number of MPs but not reducing the number of people who may be appointed to government will increase the size of those on the so-called payroll vote relative to the number of backbenchers, so strengthening the hand of the executive against parliament.

  26. Richard,

    You normally report on Irish Bond %s care to give us the 10 year trend? :)

    also, I am surprised you did not comment on the new bond regulations effective from 2013? :)

  27. Frustrated voter

    The problem is this though,Old Labour!,was the 70’s.

    We are in a global economy.What this means is you borrow from bankers if you run a deficit,Labour ran deficits from 2002.

    The only way you can free yourself from banker control is spend what you take in tax(balance the books).

    basically Become a tory!

  28. Eoin Clarke

    I have just written a post to RIN about 2013.

    Bonds have fallen for Irish,Portugal & Spain Bonds because there is a Irish bailout on the cards.

    If this falls through,all hell will break loose on Monday.

  29. @Amber,

    How much chance has the report got of stopping the changes though? I mean, from memory it seems that a lot of official reports are merely recommendations that can be ignored. Does it make the boundary changes unlikely cos I heard a while back that they are going through anyway.

    For the record, equalised constituency sizes sounds fair to me, especially if conducted in a fair and impartial way. I wonder who it will benefit most.

  30. @Howard………Power, and too much leverage, corrupts. :-)

  31. Richard,

    Bonds fell becuase of the guarantee on new bond regulations at seoul today. Have you read up on them?

    Every Irish news medium is covering explicit rejections of the stories you peddled. There will be no bailout next week. None is required.

    We wont have long to go to see who is right.

  32. @Frustrated Voter

    “If Labour, reconnects with the working class workers, they stand a good chance of winning in 2015. If they don’t, I think David Cameron and the Tories will win again.”

    The Tories didn’t win the last election tho.

    And what’s more, they would still need to make significant gains against Labour to get out of hung parliament. The collapse of the LibDem position does not change the geographic concentration problems of the Conservatives.

    A 42/38/10 result would still mean a hung parliament. A rather nasty one where the Lib Dems reduced to 10 seats, and unable to form decisive coalition!

  33. @Richard,

    I am a wavering/floating voter. I wouldn’t rule out voting Tory for the first time, especially if we don’t go into a double dip recession. Basically, I think the Tories will get a majority in 2015 if we avoid another recession and the national debt is largely/all paid off. I expect, under these circumstance, they would offer the electorate pre-election sweeteners in the lead up the election to get them on their side.

    I agree with the cuts. I accept that they are largely necessary, even though a large part of me doesn’t want to. Having said that, I don’t agree with the way some of the cuts are being done (i.e. child benefit not being for household, university tuition fees etc.) I admire the Tory’s for being courageous enough to tackle underlying problems, but I think it could have been done fairer.

  34. @Jay Blanc,

    It feels like they did. XD Technically they didn’t, but they are governing, and have a pretty healthy coalition government that most see running the distance (if they are being honest).

    “And what’s more, they would still need to make significant gains against Labour to get out of hung parliament. The collapse of the LibDem position does not change the geographic concentration problems of the Conservatives.

    A 42/38/10 result would still mean a hung parliament. A rather nasty one where the Lib Dems reduced to 10 seats, and unable to form decisive coalition!”

    That depends on the constituency boundary changes. If they go ahead, what you wrote above doesn’t apply. It may be easier (I reckon it will) for the Tories to get their much coveted majority in 2015.

  35. I would be very surprised if the reduction in mps and boundary changes do not happen. I just hope they are done fairly.

    Anyway, enough politics for me! Just wanted to post my thoughts.

  36. Constituency boundary changes can’t go into effect until after the next election.

  37. Reuters is reporting it ,so is Bloomberg.

    I don’t own these organisations.

    Same old,same old,blame the messenger.

    reuters 12/11/2010

    Ireland is in talks about tapping emergency funds from the European Financial Stability Facility, euro zone sources told Reuters.

    This is why Bond rates are falling.

    If this srory is false they will soar on Monday.

    Even so 8.4%,is a crisis level anyway.(where they ended) still higher than Mon.

  38. @Amber………..Do these students not realise the implications of a criminal record, especially in a highly competitive employment market……….a CRB check will expose their criminality long after the fire in their bellies has died.

  39. richard

    clip clip, clip clip

    will it be short enough to screw your bonus

  40. John Hutton, the coalition’s tame Labour peer, has spoken out against the downgrading of MOD pensions, especially as this will affect injured servicemen and women.

    It seems the government cannot make an exception to their public service pension reform.

    The dossier on Coulson is winging its way to the CPS.

    British Gas bowl a 7% energy price rise at Mr King’s inflation target, er, milestone.

  41. @ Ken

    They haven’t been convicted yet. I doubt many of them will see the inside of a court.

    They are nice, middle-class kids. Cautions & no criminal record for most of them, IMO.

  42. ‘basically Become a tory!

    Some of us would rather remain human beings!

  43. Frustrated voter

    It is impossible to pay of the debt for a generation.

    You need to realise the difference between the deficit & debt.

    Deficit is the yearly money borrowed,then added to the overall debt.

    National debt=total accumulated debt for every yearly deficit over the centuries.

    This is what Labour relies on,the average voter not understanding when they claim to plan to halve the deficit in 4 years,they still will be adding to the debt around £85bn a year.

    We have to squeeze the deficit 2010-15.

    Then once the defciit is dealt with start bringing down the actuall overall debt mountain.

    To do this we have to be in budget surplus.(spend less money than we take in taxes per year,have no yearly deficit).

    I hope this helps.

  44. @ Frustrated Voter

    Your comments remind me of Kyle (who used to post here). But regarding your question:

    How much chance has the report got of stopping the changes though?

    The bill could be stopped or held up by the Lords.

    That’s why we have the Lords, IMO. To prevent potentially partisan legislation that over-turns Britain’s developed constitution without there being a strong foundation for doing so.

  45. Richrd,

    You must have missed my 8.32pm…

    Bloomberg quoting reuters is hardly a fresh source… Reuters had Papo Giovnni dead three times before it actually occurred. Newswires make mistakes.

    Ireland will not need a bailout. You’ll see.

  46. Ken

    That was Old Nat’s joke not mine (on levers)

  47. @ Éoin

    Ireland will not need a bailout. You’ll see.
    Have you guys found a few Chinese vases at the back of your book-shelves? ;-)

    Joking aside, I am with you on this. 8-)

  48. I think Labour is right in not setting out their policies as yet. Labour will have to deal with what the Condems will put in place when they come into power and until they know these details they can’t possibly know what policies will be required to undo the damage done by the Condems.

  49. @ RIN

    clip clip, clip clip

    ROFLOL :-)

  50. Frustrated Voter,

    The House of Lords does not reject Bills enacting proposals included in the Government’s election manifesto – known as following the Salisbury convention.. This Bill,however, contains proposals that were not in either of the Government parties’ manifestos – making it a fair bit more likely that the Lords will take an independent line.

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