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. Amber,

    lol. Quite a few years ago Charlie McGreevy (now at the EU commission) was our Finnce dude.. at the height of the boom he incentivised savings… for evey £4 you put in, he matched it with £1. Our cash reserves dwarf greece’s at this stage of their woes.. even without aid, we could last all the way to May/June 2011. The scallcrows were too hasty, done Cowen a favour in creating acceptable climate for more cuts… since Ireland does not have a public secotr so to speak, it was the only option lol

  2. Eoin Clarke

    Irish Independent (i suppose i own these as well)

    Friday November 12 2010

    Irish-based lenders’ borrowings from the European Central Bank rose 7.3pc last month as the yield investors demanded to hold the state’s debt surged on concerns about its budget deficit and mounting bank losses.

    ECB funds used by lenders including international and domestic companies climbed to €130bn as of October 29, from €121.1bn at the end of September, according to statistics published on the central bank’s website today.

    Irish companies & Banks cannot lend in the money markets,the ECB is now keeping the Irish Government afloat & the country of Ireland from outright bankruptcy.

    Do you not get it? business needs to borrow every month for employment roll,without the ECB 100’000s of Irish workers would not be paid.

    The ECB is acting as lender of last resort.

  3. @OldNat & Howard….Please don’t resort to Carter Ruck, I apologise for my mistake ! :-)

  4. It’s hard to see why the Met would have filed with the CPS if they don’t think there’s a case to answer for. And the CPS can only state if they think it would be likely to secure a conviction or not…

    The CPS declining to prosecute won’t mean the bad-press goes away, since “There is not enough evidence to secure a criminal conviction” is not going to be seen as acquittal. In fact, the worst case could be if the CPS don’t prosecute, but there is damaging evidence released. And even the barest hint of political pressure to drop the case would be hugely damaging.

    The best the Government can hope for now is that Coulson wasn’t the person named in the dossier.

  5. Ken

    Only a cad would resort to the courts. :-)

  6. @ Richard

    Dare I suggest, you could be posting on the wrong site. This is UK Polling Report – We are polling geeks who hang on every stutter & flutter of the polls.

    Have you mistaken this for UK Bonds Report or Gilts R us? Don’t you ‘bondsmen’ have a site of your own? Please point us to it… I want to post some comments about VI. ;-)

  7. ? More trouble for the Dems:

    The Liberal Democrats were drawing up plans to abandon Nick Clegg’s flagship policy to scrap university tuition fees two months before the general election, secret party documents reveal.

    As the Lib Dem leader faces a growing revolt after this week’s violent protest against fee rises, internal documents show the party was drawing up proposals for coalition negotiations which contrasted sharply with Clegg’s public pronouncements.

    A month before Clegg pledged in April to scrap the “dead weight of debt”, a secret team of key Lib Dems made clear that, in the event of a hung parliament, the party would not waste political capital defending its manifesto pledge to abolish university tuition fees within six years.

    In a document marked “confidential” and dated 16 March, the head of the secret pre-election coalition negotiating team, Danny Alexander, wrote: “On tuition fees we should seek agreement on part time students and leave the rest. We will have clear yellow water with the other [parties] on raising the tuition fee cap, so let us not cause ourselves more headaches.”


  8. Richard,

    Do you understand the term “cash reserves”. If so, tell me how do Ireland’s compare to other EU states?

  9. Amber, Eoin and Richard.

    I did ask the gents for reasons why the devlopments in Eire’s finances were relevant to VI here in GB (altight UK but you know what i mean).

    But got no compendible answer from either.

  10. @Amber…….. Students would, of course, appreciate Voltaire… ‘ Dans ce pay-ci, il est bonde tuer de temps un amiral pour encourager les autres ‘ English judges love him. :-)
    By the way, I am enjoying the psephologically influenced debate going on between Éoin and Richard, don’t be rude. :-)

  11. clear yellow water ……there’s a joke in there somewhere; but not a very tasteful one.

  12. Amber

    thanks for that, It shews LDs were already fit to govern before being forced to..

  13. What damage could this do?

    “Revealed: Lib Dems planned before election to abandon tuition fees pledge – Exclusive: Documents show Nick Clegg’s public claim was at odds with secret decision made by party in March”.

    h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/12/lib-dems-tuition-fees-clegg

  14. Eoin Clarke

    The Irish state has cash reserves.(2-6 months) depends on which report you believe.(without further Bank bailouts)

    The problem in Ireland is the Banks,they have to roll over debt month after month at the same bond rates that the Irish Government would face if it were lending today.

    The Banks pay for payroll of companies during a cash flow shortage,all businesses experience this it is normal,big & small business throughout the world.

    The Banks are in trouble,so every business in Ireland who needs to borrow short term funds for payroll and other requirements could face a crisis.

    If the ECB did not exist,Ireland would already be in the hands of the IMF,it is frozen(both Government & Banks) out of normal money market borrowing.

  15. While I’ve been communicating here, we are watching DA on Beeb 2.

    I do hope our rightist friends will never abandon public service broadcasting. It’s all we British have left as a force in the world (IMHO)

  16. @Ken

    By the way, I am enjoying the psephologically influenced debate going on between Éoin and Richard, don’t be rude.
    You squeezed “psephologically influenced” in. And I wasn’t being rude, I was getting into the pantomime spirit of the debate:

    Ireland is bankrupt…..
    Oh no it isn’t
    Oh yes it is
    Oh no it isn’t
    Oh yes it is

  17. Irish economic policy has often been compared, on here, with ours, rapid deficit reduction etc., and then used to illustrate the more ‘ tapered ‘ pay down preferred by Labour. This argument, ‘ look what’s happened to the Irish ‘ has been made mainly by you Lefties, Éoin excepted of course.

  18. Richard,

    ROI has 6 months reserves… that’s 2 quarters… we will know a lot by then about the state of the economy… stable growth eg. to coin Gordy’s phrase 0.0% …. will convicne the investors to return. The plan is to relaunch 10 year bonds in February

  19. @Amber
    You beat me to it!

    In the words of Kevin Keegan, I would love it, love it to observe the reaction if Clegg ever tried publically to justify his actions in such terms.

  20. @ Howard

    It shews LDs were already fit to govern before being forced to..
    Marvellously succinct – & I agree with you. 8-)

  21. Eoin Clarke


    6 months if you spend the nations 22bn euro pension fund.

    Great idea!! this is to pay for the pensions of Irish citizens for decades.

    After this is spent you will(my opinion)/could still end up at the ECB in mid 2011.

  22. Richrd,

    According to you we were going for bilout next week? Has that changed?

    Bonds at 6% in Feb/Mar will do nicely…

    As the world economy recovers, we will gradually follow.

    You misunderstand the resilience of the inhabitants. There is n appetite and stomach for these cuts…

    You see before we looked fter ourselves we had you lot, so we know what adversity is. It’s engrained in our DNA :P

  23. Eoin
    I am confused about your nationality -what’s with the ‘we’?

  24. Eoin Clarke

    Wrong,i can put up what i wrote if you want to look foolish feb 2011(i can find it & put it up for you if you wish).

    Ireland is proposing spending the family silver(nations pension fund),on the hope that with the 6Bn of further austerity(last round caused a contraction in economy) will bring about GDP growth to take the wolves from the door in 2011.

    This austerity will be the same as the UK cutting £120bn in one year,instead of our cuts of £81bn over 4 years.

    It is all delusional stuff.

  25. Howard,

    If I not mistaken you are British English and European. Three for one offer.

    I am Irish, a citizen of the UK, and European. I bought the same deal. I was born in the Free State and we have a peat bog there, ahem I mean farm.

    Still confused?

  26. I love doing this.

    What interest do you, Richard, have in Ireland’s finances and what makes you think anyone here is also (so interested)?

  27. I wonder how the Government will tackle the gas price hike. Labour did manage to deflect getting the ‘blame’ for not helping keep them down, by talking about funding energy efficiency programs and warning about rapping knuckles of price gougers if it came to that.

    But I suspect the Conservatives might be too bogged down in all their other troubles to do anything, or not see it as a priority.

    This is risky, since high utility bills have always been seen as something that “the government aught do something about”.

  28. Howard

    I was challenged by Eoin Clarke to keep posting here 10 days ago,we had a discussion on this subject.

    Eoin thought the bond markets would settle down,i predicted the opposite.

    What is it to you,you don’t have to read my posts.

  29. richard

    i think you will end up with a mohican

  30. Eoin
    No I realise that you are one of those who are marked on my electoral register as being able to vote in local and EU elections but not in our parliamentary one. Is that right?

    And from wherever from you hail, what has your discussion with Richard have to do with what we discuss here?

    I know Irish people can get special voting privileges. Can you vote in Eire too?

  31. richard in norway

    Reds seem to think they can bully people of this forum.

    They are wasting their time with me,i have been posting on & off for three years.

  32. Richard,

    I am very happy to wait until soemthing materialises. Thus far, you have a leak of a newswire. You gotta do better than that? In addition bons fell back 0.7% in 24 Hours.


    No you cant vote in Éire, You are a sassenach…

  33. Eoin Clarke

    We will see what happens over the weekend.

    Reds on here,this is an open fourm,Labourlist it is not,get over it!

    nite nite :)

  34. Eoin
    You mean ‘one’ (an emigre to NI) can’t vote in Eire.

    But remind me, why can you vote in Westminster elections, is it that Commonwealth and Eire thing?

    Don’t get me wrong. I think all EU citizens should be able to vote on the parliament in the EU country where they pay the tax and are domiciled.

    My daughter cannot vote in Dutch national elections and neither could \I which cheesed me off rotten when i was paying 60% IT and the Netherlands s had even more ne’er do wells than we do.

  35. Howard,

    I can vote in Westminster elections.

    It is just that the only options open to me realistically, are sectarian parties. I am not sectarian. If Labour stand, I will exercise my vote. Failing that, the Greens or Alliance might get it next time.

  36. @Howard, Eoin

    The UK and Ireland actually have what I believe is a very uncommon mutual agreement.

    British citizens resident in Ireland may vote at Dáil, European and local elections.

    Irish citizens resident in the UK may vote in General, European and local elections.

    As evidenced, this is not widely known, so a lot of people entitled to vote don’t realise it.

  37. Why does Richard think Ii am a Red? I only wanted to find out what the relevance of his posts were to what we discuss on here.

    Perhaps he will come back tomorrow and try again.

  38. Sad to say, but Richard sometimes comes across as anti-Irish. It used to be a common enough creed in England but I’d hoped we’d dumped it a decade ago.

  39. Jay

    I kind of remembered that , thanks, it’s obviously due to the past when they were a colony.

    Eoin I don;t give a d*mn how you vote, my question was about election law which you and Jay answered. Thanks.

    Do me a favour Eoin, ignore Richard, i am as capable of reading the press as he.

  40. @Howard

    Perhaps the definition of ‘Red’ is ‘Anyone who disagrees with a Blue’. I was certainly surprised to discover that I’m apparently a Red Labour Tribalist Puritan, considering I’ve always voted LibDem…

  41. @Jay Blanc,

    Done a bit of research and it seems that the boundary changes are likely to go ahead. That’s what newspaper articles (i.e. the guardian) and report I have just read seem to indicate anyway. The changes would take place before the next GE too. According to one such report:-

    “The Government’s plan to redraw constituencies and cut the number of MPs will disproportionately hit Labour and the Liberal Democrats – and could halve the number of Lib Dem seats at the next election, according to internal Labour research.

    A confidential briefing for Labour MPs seen by Tribune estimates that, if this year’s general election had been contested with 600 seats instead of 650, the Lib Dems would have won seven fewer seats – more than 13 per cent of their total. Labour would have lost 25 seats, nearly 10 per cent, and the Conservatives 13 – just over 4 per cent.”

    So, judging by these numbers, Labour would really lose out, with the Libs losing out even more! The article in the guardian seemed quite concerned about the said changes and its affect on Labour. I hope that if these changes are made (which it seems is likely by the sounds of it) that they are done with fairness in mind.

  42. A reduction of 10% of total seats is quite substantial. I am not surprised Labour MPs and supporters are strongly opposing the changes.

  43. @Frustrated Voter

    The changes in the bill would take effect immediately… But iirc the next electoral redistricting is not going to take place soon enough to affect the next election. Which means it could well be repealed by the next government.

  44. I wonder how much power Labour MPs (and the House of Lords) has to oppose such changes in reality. I’m for the changes in principle, but I don’t want the Tories to use them unfairly or without consideration for enhancing democracy in the UK.

  45. @Frustrated Voter,

    If the changes reduce the chances of a Labour majority on a 36% vote share then I think it will enhance fairness.

    I’m not sure what the estimates would be based on though, as the new boundaries are not yet agreed. Presumably, if they were heavily gerrymandered then almost any result could be obtained, including theoretically a benefit to Labour. That’s why I hope the rules are set fairly rigidly for the Boundary Commission, even if it does create Frankensteins like a Devonwall seat.

    One thing I am sure of is that the effects of the changes will be a minor factor relative to the overall state of the parties on the eve of the election, and relative to the effects of AV if it is adopted.

  46. @Jay Blanc,

    Knowing DC (and the Tories) they’ll try to force it in by 2015 (of which they have 5 years). I read somewhere that the new boundaries are planned to be redrawn before the next GE. Can’t remember where. The Guardian reporter was livid about it all (article was dated the 10th of Sept, I think).

  47. Howard,

    I think I might take you up on that offer…


    There is an inequity in that… since Brits have to actually be resident i Ireland to get the vote.. In the 1979 election thousands of Irish wrote H on their ballot paper instead of X. We are more aware than you’d imagine. The ironic thing is that back then we were trying to Dump a Labour government for bringing in criminalisation

  48. @Neil A,

    I agree. I think that a redrawing of the boundaries would make it fairer. So would a reduction in the number of MPs. I’m sure it will/would all be done independently, so that it isn’t used to solely gain political advantage.

    I guess these potential changes, and their discussion, are one of the more interesting topics of polling over the next few years.

  49. Frustrated voter
    I think at this minute you find yourself surrounded by a couple of LDs.

    We don’t care who is expected to lose and who gains. that’s what makes us LD. We may lose if people are not alive to possibilities but that’s up to the people in whom, as LDs, we are required to trust.

    Don’t ask me if I agree with all that.

  50. Anyway, see you guys!

    Will pop in very occasionally to see polls over the coming years!

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