The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are here, mainly covering the strike and public sector pensions.

40% of people said they supported teachers going on strike last week, with 49% of people were opposed – exactly the same split YouGov found when they asked a similar question for the Sun before the strikes. There was less support for the other workers who went on strike on Thursday though – only 35-36% supported strikes by immigration, job centre and court staff, with 52% opposed.

This is an interesting pattern, teachers going on strike probably cause disruption to more people than immigration officers, job centre staff and so on, yet they have more support. It suggests to me that the difference in attitudes towards the different groups on strike is more down to people having more respect or sympathy for some occupations than others, rather than the different amounts of disruption caused by different occupations going on strike.

Note that parents of schoolchildren were not more opposed to the strike (in fact, they were marginally more favourable – the reason is probably demographic – over 60s were by far the most hostile towards the strikes, and are obviously much less likely to have school age children. If you compare people with school-age children’s views to to those of everyone between 25-59 (the age groups most likely to have school age children), views are almost identical.)

People blame the government and the unions roughly equally for the strikes. 36% blame the government most, 33% blame the unions the most, 22% blame them both equally. They are slightly more likely to think the unions are behaving reasonably though – 43% think the trade unions are being reasonable, 36% think the government are. People are also evenly split over whether the trade unions are primarily concerned about protecting their members’ pension rights (41%), or are primarily using it as a way of combating the government’s wider cuts (40%). There is an overwhelming expectation there were are more wide-scale strikes to come.

Respondents thought both Cameron and Miliband handled the strikes badly- Cameron by 53% to 28%, Miliband by 49% to 19%. There is an interesting difference in the partisan balance though. Opinions on Cameron were largely and predictably partisan – most of Conservatives thought he handled the strikes well, most of Labour supporters thought he’d handled them badly. Compare this to Ed Miliband, where his own Labour supporters think he has handled the strikes badly by 47% to 24%, suggesting that criticising the strikes is not chiming with his own supporters.

Turning to the issue of pensions themselves, YouGov asked specifically about some of the changes proposed to pensions. People tend to think it is right that public sector workers should have to pay more towards their pension (by 51% to 34%) and that pensions should be based on average salary rather than final salaries (by 46% to 32%). However, they are less supportive of making public sector employees work for longer before receiving their pensions (44% think this is right, 44% wrong).


86 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times polling on last Thursday’s strikes”

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  1. ALEC

    “Companies need to make provision at the point of accrual as there is a good chance they won’t be around when the liability arises. The state is much more permanent,”

    I disagree entirely about your arbitrary difference.

    The permanence of the State is irrelevant-it will still have to ensure that sufficient funds are in place at retirement. If the liabilities are not funded as they accrue-at the time they arise-from the taxpayers then living-you throw the whole liability decades down the road & assume tax payers yet unborne will pay up.

    The essential point about DB pension liabilities is that a) they accrue with time & pay inflation & b) they are guaranteed to the pensioner.

    The State should fund such liabilities as they accrue-not when the crystalise.

    If nothing else it is a neccessary discipline for the State & its taxpayers to be transparently aware of the additional pension liabilities which it is accepting each & every year.

    If correction is required-it is far too late to attempt them after the liability has arisen.

  2. Alec

    To finish off-why is the LGPS fully funded & invested-the TPS funded but fully funded or invested-the Civil Service Scheme not funded until retirement ?

    What is the justification for these differences -all in the Public Sector?

  3. Correction

    “TPS funded but NOT fully funded ”

    :-)

  4. On the average pay thing –
    Average Pay in April 2011 was £473 per week, but if you get rid of the bank employees in the ‘public sector’, it shrinks to £10 difference – £465 (pub) vs £455 (pri).
    But that’s taking things out of context, really.

    It was £465 (pri) vs £467 (pub ex fin) in March 2011.
    £2/week difference.

    IIRC, Hours worked in the private sector has been falling – which would also help explain the fall in wages.

    Public sector pay (ex fin) has remained stable at around £465 a week for 2011 so far.

    But how about we look at the context?
    Year – Private – Public – Difference
    2000 319 313 6
    2001 335 329 6
    2002 345 342 3
    2003 355 358 -3
    2004 370 374 -4
    2005 387 394 -7
    2006 406 408 -2
    2007 428 421 7
    2008 442 436 6
    2009 438 448 -10
    2010 447 458 -11
    So there’s a swing back and forth before the crash, between who is paid the highest weekly wage of +-£7/week.
    Then the crash happens and private sector pay is cut in line with the economic difficulties.
    Public sector pay remains stable.

    So – you could make the argument that the public sector pay needs to be cut in line with the ‘pain’ that the ‘private sector has felt’. This would be the race to the bottom argument.
    You could also make the argument that the public sector is outside of the market and shouldn’t take the blame for a problem caused by the market.

    Either way, it’s important not to take figures out of context.

  5. Colin

    “The permanence of the State is irrelevant-it will still have to ensure that sufficient funds are in place at retirement. If the liabilities are not funded as they accrue-at the time they arise-from the taxpayers then living-you throw the whole liability decades down the road & assume tax payers yet unborne will pay up.”

    The same argument could made about the state pension. Do you think NI contributions should be invested with, say. Equitable Life and used to fund future state pensions?

    In fact, everytime the Government plans spending in the future, are you saying they should fund it up front, or should they borrow the money before they need it?

    Why should future pensions be funded years in advance but not, say, defence spending?

    After all, we know we will need an army in forty years time, why leave the next generation to pay for it?

  6. I am off to work now, but will have to try to find the average hours worked and see if there’s a ‘by sector’ breakdown later.
    That’ll be a more important figure –
    If the pub sector works, for example, 38 hrs a week and the private sector works 36.5 (IIRC, it’s around, 36 atm due to the increase in part time but not full time work) hrs a week then this also distorts the weekly pay figures.

  7. On the subject of state pensions, I think a very good case could be made in a court of law that changing the age you can take your pension for benefits already accrued is unlawful.

    Of course somebody would have to test that.

  8. @Lazslo (12.01am) – I’ve often made the point that as the economy is growing by c 2-2.5% a year and the number of old people is due to grow by around 1.5% there is no such thing as a pensions crisis.

    That we think there is is largely a result of a concerted campaign in the 1980s by the financial industry, aided and abetted by the then government, to persuade us that the state system was inefficienct and broken and that only a mass switch to stock market based private pension provision (and the associated high fees) was the only way to go. We fell for it.

    @Colin – “The State should fund such liabilities as they accrue-not when the crystalise.”

    My question would be why? By borrowing money now to set aside for dedicated funds we would incur interest payments immediately that would need to be funded. Yes, the fund would generate it’s own returns, but if this is via secure bonds, you will get back the interest you have to pay out to sell the bonds in the first place, but they incur costs of managing the system, so again you will be running at a loss.

    Purely in terms of economic efficiency it would be much cheaper for governments to pay out the pension from general taxation when liabilites arise, so long as the futute liabilites are planned for and kept within reasonable limits. As the Hutton report suggests that this is indeed what is happening, I don’t really see the need to have hard and fast rules that every future commitment should be fully funded, especially if it means more borrowing now to pay for it.

    I do agree the situation is thoroughly messy and confusing, and I guess it would give us piece of mind if the schemes were all funded and avoid any chance of governments (and workers) ducking the issue of future liabilities, but the bottom line is that decent pensions of all kinds are affordable given the income and assets we have as a nation – we just need a little, some imagination and to stop believing those people who have a vested interest in telling us the opposite.

    By the way – with regard to the ONS stats – I didn’t mean to say that those figure were meaningless in themselves, but rather the way they were presented wasn’t of much use. They could be entirely legitimately comparable, but the information to do this wasn’t provided so it wasn’t possible to know what the figures actually represented. They could be perfectly valid, but I just couldn’t tell.

  9. Interesting polling from Reuters/Ipsos Mori showing the public regard Lady Thatcher as the most capable of modern Prime Ministers way above anyone else, and she was the second most liked as a person. If only she was at the helm now.

  10. @The Other Howard – “If only she was at the helm now.”

    Absolutely. She would probably promote a free market approach to service provision by derugulating the financial sector and relying on massive levels of asset inflation and leveraged debt throughout the economy, while accepting totally their word that the financiers have successfully covered all possible risks and that there would be no chance of the entire system crashing down in, say, 35 years time.

    It would be wonderful.

  11. Colin asked why the LGPS has a fund which is invested – unlike the Teachers Pension Fund which appears to be a on Pay as you Go basis.

    Can the reason be that historically the gov (of whatever hue) has held to the view/principle that education is an essential element for the economy and therefore funding teachers’ pensions is one way of attracting and retaining people of the right skills and calibre to the profession.

    There may also be a misunderstanding about the way DB schemes are funded. By law IIRC most if not all DB schemes must have every three years a valuation of assets and liabilities. The purpose is to establish the difference between these and for the trustees to enter into discussions (negotiations) with the employer to identify how the shortfall is to be addressed – typically by increases to the employer contributions and often by the making of additional significant lump sum payments in the order of hundreds of millions of pounds, over the agreed period.

    Pay as you go schemes are commonplace in the public sector because it is (was) convenient and ‘cheap’ in the short term. Moving from PAYG to fully funded is an impossibility and would entail employer (ie the Treasury/taxpayer) contributions being significantly higher in the short term.

  12. @ Mike N 8:53 am

    “There may also be a misunderstanding about the way DB schemes are funded. By law IIRC most if not all DB schemes must have every three years a valuation of assets and liabilities.”

    I don’t know what the legal status, but a key reason the strikes took place last Thursday was the Govts refusal to conduct the valuation of the TPS that was due (last year iirc). TPS members who are paying attention to the issues are particularly wound up about this refusal: how can the Govt be serious about its claims about affordability and needing to make changes, if it refuses to do what is needed to even find out whether there is a shortfall?

  13. That’s because the increse in penions conntributions for public sector workers has nothing to do with affordibility of pensions and everything to do with getting money in immediately to cut the deficit.

  14. Oldnat @ Anthony

    “1% claim that their children couldn’t go to school because of non-existent strikes! (some Scottish schools were already on holiday)”

    Not least Glasow which is nearly half of Scotland!

  15. POLL ALERT

    ComRes/BBC

    ‘Nearly half of English oppose Scottish independence – poll’
    – The ComRes survey for BBC’s Newsnight and Radio 4’s World at One found 48% of voters in England wanted Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-13995097

  16. The Other Howard

    “Interesting polling from Reuters/Ipsos Mori showing the public regard Lady Thatcher as the most capable of modern Prime Ministers way above anyone else, and she was the second most liked as a person. If only she was at the helm now.”

    Remind me please why her party thought she was a liability?

  17. @ Robert Newark
    He ‘gets it’. Why are the rest on the left so blinkered?
    Actually he identifies as a working-class Tory.

  18. The Other Howard

    “Interesting polling from Reuters/Ipsos Mori showing the public regard Lady Thatcher as the most capable of modern Prime Ministers way above anyone else, and she was the second most liked as a person

    Separating Scotland would be entertaining.

    The comparison was only with subsequent PM’s, so the capabilities of Churchill, Atlee, McMillan and Wilson were not in contention.

    “Capable” suggests to me good at achieving what you set out to achieve, rather than good at achieving good things.

    Prof. Curtice credits her with three enduring changes, one of which was persuading the Scots of the merits of devolution. It took Donald Dewar half a century to persuade just the Labour party, and it was already party policy before he became a member.

  19. Davey

    ‘Christof
    When I read statements like this I fear there’s a strand of conservative thought which heading straight down the Fox News/Republican conspiracy theory route.’

    ‘On the other hand he may just be expressing a view with which you happen to disagree.’

    Yes, and my view is that at the time the left hammered the Tories on ‘Fat Cats’ Pay’; I think the Sun wrote about it, so it could be said that the right wing media was involved, although at the time it supported Labour.

    Incidently I prefer The Independent to Fox, and I have never supported the Republicans, and could not back a Party that led their country into an illegal and immoral war.

  20. Re: ONS Figures…

    An independent government body pressured into producing a dossier that focuses in on making a point via selective presentation of vague information and indirect assumptions?

    Surely that can never happen here.

  21. The thingis 40,000 families forced out of their homes sounds like human misery to me and to do it without actually saving any money (or it even costing more) sounds like a vote loser.

    Surely there aren’t that many voters who will support such a policy?

  22. Nick Poole
    The thingis 40,000 families forced out of their homes sounds like human misery to me and to do it without actually saving any money (or it even costing more) sounds like a vote loser.

    Surely there aren’t that many voters who will support such a policy?

    No, which is why Local Authorities will be required to re-house anyone who needs to move because their benefits are capped at £26,000.

  23. @Henry – “No, which is why Local Authorities will be required to re-house anyone who needs to move because their benefits are capped at £26,000.”

    That’s rather the point. 40,000 people won’t actually be made homeless as councils will have to house them, hence the increasing cost to the tax payer.

    Of course, perhaps the central government thinking is that this will not necessarily mean the central grant to councils is increased, thereby forcing councils to either increase council tax or cut even more deeply elsewhere, thereby achieving a net cost reduction to the deficit, which is apparently all that matters.

    The fact that this policy is likely to affect inner city areas largely under Labour control to a greater extent would not, I’m sure, affect such thinking, but then again…..

  24. @ SoCalLiberal July 3rd, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    “Huh. Interesting. I’d have thought that those with school age children would be less supportive of a strike. But I’d have thought wrong.”

    Maybe I wasn’t the only one who throughly enjoyed an extra day with the kids!

  25. Hi Stuart – re poll on English attitudes to Scottish independence. What is most interesting to me about this is that slightly more English people feel they would be worse off without Scotland than the other way around (21% compared to 19% who think the Scots would be worst off), while most think it would make little practical difference.

    This says two things to me – first the idea that all the English think Scots are just scroungers from the union is nonsense, despite the comments on the Telegraph and Mail, and secondly that support for the Union is far more than the practical issues of taxation, deficits and party politics.

  26. Alec

    That’s rather the point. 40,000 people won’t actually be made homeless as councils will have to house them, hence the increasing cost to the tax payer.

    If there is no financial benefit to the Govt they are unlikely to legislate. However, as you suggest the cost may be transfered from centra to local govt and I can see that this could be attractive to DC.

    I see this as being voter neutral because of the safeguards; but have there been any polls on this?

  27. I’d hate to lose Scotland from the United Kingdom, but the biggest question is, should I get a say, or is it entirely up to the Scots to self-determine?

    We down want a civil war like they had in the States. After all, we let the Falkland Islanders decide without checking with the rest of the UK (or Argentina).

    Two interesting scenarios would be the English voting to get rid and the Scots wanting to stay, and the other way round. I have a feeling the English won’t get a vote at all (rightly?).

  28. henry

    would it be voter neutral?

    So if it’s not popular (a vote winner), doesn’t save any money and inflicts misery, what is it all for?

    It might start out with voters being supportive but in the long run look very bad indeed.

  29. @Nick Poole

    Why spend more to inflict misery?

    Come up with another plan or leave things alone. Don’t do things that will come with a higher cost in money, human terms and (possibly) politically.

    This is not a reform to save money in the short-term, but instead medium-term onwards. It may well cost money to implement but it will save far more later on.

  30. Steve

    40,000 homeless families. Could be social costs such as crime, health etc on top of those “start up” costs.

    It’s a ruthless social experiment and the consequences (and the costs) in the medium/long term look a bit murky to me.

  31. Polls from last year that included questions on capping housing benefit

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2872
    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2858

    (note inparticular the first one, which asked about caps on housing benefit “even if this means people are forced to move house if they live in an area where the rent is high”)

  32. But AW the new info isn’t the having to move, it’s the net cost increase.

    Might change a few minds if the policy cost money instead of saving it.

  33. Stuart

    Methinks ComRes chairman Andrew Hawkins has suffered a logic bypass.

    “That almost half of the English feel that they would like a say over Scotland’s future suggests that the Union should be England’s as well as Scotland’s to determine.” (from the Beeb Report)

    No doubt he argued that those in Sumatra should have had a vote as to whether East Timor stayed in Indonesia.

  34. Nick Poole

    “The same argument could made about the state pension. Do you think NI contributions should be invested”

    Yes

    “In fact, everytime the Government plans spending in the future, are you saying they should fund it up front, or should they borrow the money before they need it?”

    The Budget process takes care of this.
    I am talking about the long term nature of the guarantee inherant in the DB pension accrual. That is different.
    Greece was within days of running out of money-the “permanence ” of the Greek state wouldn’t have helped their pensioners then-but a a funded/invested pension scheme would.

    “Why should future pensions be funded years in advance but not, say, defence spending?”

    Because future DB pension accrue now-each year & each pay rise.
    Defence spending is not mandatory or guaranteed-of course Labour famously did exactly what you would have them do-committ to future spending with no funding in place

  35. Colin,
    I don’t know what is happening, but I am finding I am agreeing with you in principle.

    The problem is that when NI was set up, the Govt pocketed the contributions to start with. Essentially in the period between when contributions started and the rate of pensioners it was funding reached stability, taxpayers were taking a ‘payments holiday’. Our parents and grandparents got us into this fix by not paying enough tax.

    It strikes me, therefore, that some of the assets that their generations built up were because they weren’t paying enough tax. Perhaps the thing to do is for Government to recover that deficiency through inheritance taxes.

  36. Alec

    What a beautiful piece of logic-I love it.

    I quite often try & imagine the set of your features as I read your posts-on this one it would be a straight face , but with increasingly uncontrollable twitches at the corners of the mouth :-)

    Anyway-since I suspect I might get caught in your “our parents” net-I will offer no comment.

    More seriously I do think that pension guarantees offer a good example of the areas where intergenerational committments need much more care by government.

    Government has a very bad record of recognising & accounting for the future effects of binding committments it makes today-environmentally & financially.

    Much more transparency & thought are needed-and if funding has to be set aside by current taxpayers as liabilities are assumed , rather than by future taxpayers when they crystalise -that can only concentrate political minds of the effects of their policies .

    ……we need more accountants in Whitehall :-) :-) :-)

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