The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now up here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 30%, LAB 40%, LD 11%, UKIP 13%. The bulk of this week’s questions were on benefits (and there is a second YouGov poll in the Sun on Sunday also asking benefit related questions, though tabs for that probably wont be up till tomorrow morning).

Looking at the broad findings, a chunky majority of people think that the present benefit system needs reform in some way. Overall, 70% of people think the current system works badly and needs significant (38%) or major (32%) reform.

However, looking beneath that concern seems to be more widespread about who benefits go to, rather than the level of them (though it would be wrong to deny many were not also concerned about that!). 63% think that the benefit system is not strict enough and too open to fraud, 22% think it is too strict, 9% about right. Compare this to 37% who think it is too generous and benefit payments are too high, 21% who think they are too low and 26% who think they are about right. In previous polling we’ve often seen that overall people want to see less spent on welfare, but are actually well-disposed towards benefits for some groups like the disabled or the elderly – the driver of disatisfaction with the system does seem to be exactly who it goes to.

The YouGov/Sunday Times survey asked people what proportion of welfare they thought went to people who genuinely needed and deserved support, and what proportion went to people who did not deserve it and were taking advantage of the system. 36% of people think that half (23%) or more than half (13%) of people claiming benefits do not deserve help and are taking advantage of the system. A further 42% of people think there are a minority of claimants who are not deserving help. (Again, we’ve seen previously that people vastly overestimate the level of fraud in the system, but this is not actually the same question – people may well think that people are perfectly legally claiming benefits within the current rules, but that the rules should be tighter).

Asking more specifically about some of policy proposals and whether they are fair or not, 78% of people think it is fair to put a £26,000 cap on the benefits a household can receive each year (10% think it unfair) and 59% think it is fair to limit the increase in working-age benefits to 1%, less than the rate of inflation. People are more evenly split over the “bedroom tax” – 47% of people think it is fair that people have their housing benefit reduced if they are considered to have more rooms than they need, 40% think it is unfair. The survey in the Sun had a similar batch of questions that asked if people supported changes, rather than if they were fair/unfair – the results were very similar though – 79% supported the cap on total benefits and opinion on the “bedroom tax” was 49% support/44% oppose.

Asked about the challenge made to Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 pounds a week, only 26% think it would be reasonable to expect someone to live on this amount of money. However when asked about whether it would be reasonable to live on £71 – the current rate of income support or jobseekers allowance for a single adult over the age of 25, 57% of people think it would be reasonable to expect someone to live on this compared to 31% who do not . That said, people are slightly less optimistic about whether they themselves could live on that much money! Only 44% say they could, 48% say they could not.

Incidentally, there was also a question on welfare in the Opinium poll for the Observer. In the Observer’s write up here I was somewhat bemused to find that “When asked for their views on the need for further welfare cuts, just 10% of people said they believed more should be made. Only 14% of Tory supporters backed further welfare reductions compared with 10% of Lib Dems and 5% of Labour supporters”, given how it flew totally in the face of all other polling on the subject. The actual Opinium results are now up here and give a rather different picture – while only 10% think there should be “more cuts”, a further 15% think the government should continue with their present cuts and 57% support a rather “have-your-cake-and-eat-it” option of thinking there should be cuts, but only if they are targetted to protected the poor and disabled. 14% think there should not be any cuts to welfare.


282 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 30, LAB 40, LD 11, UKIP 13”

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  1. Interesting variations in the UKIP score.

  2. When was the last time period , that the Conservatives were on a constant of 30 % ?

    Was it the 97-01 period

  3. The polls show that politicians are very poor at articulating where wefare and benefit money is actually spent. This is more a problem for Labour as the Tories approach appears to chime more readily with the average voter’s erronous perception of welfare spending.

    If I was a Lab politico, I’d be doing daily.presentations and briefings both nationally and at constituency level in a language the voters understand to clalify the real status quo.

  4. “However when asked about whether it would be reasonable to live on £71 – the current rate of income support or jobseekers allowance for a single adult over the age of 25, 57% of people think it would be reasonable to expect someone to live on this compared to 31% who do not . That said, people are slightly less optimistic about whether they themselves could live on that much money! Only 44% say they could, 48% say they could not”
    ______________

    It’s a bit of a taboo question this….. Yes anyone could survive on £71 a week but obviously most couldn’t if they were to keep up their current lifestyles. I couldn’t survive on £71 per week at the moment with my commitments etc but if I was unemployed then obviously I would have to make sacrifices and do without some luxuries such as going out, my virgin tv, car etc.

  5. I would very much like to see Labour prove they can deliver on all their spending promises without running huge unsustainable deficits.

    It infuriates me that certain parties promise everyone everything, but refuse to explain how they will do it.

    Labour and SNP are cornering this market at the mo.

  6. RAF

    “The polls show that politicians are very poor at articulating where wefare and benefit money is actually spent”
    ______

    So are the Tories.. maybe if they came out and said how much the govt spends on welfare for the unemployed and how much welfare they spend on households with incomes between £50,000 -£100,000 (family tax credit etc ) then it might actually raise a few moral eyebrows

  7. The Tories have been campaigning heavily on traditional right wing issues for weeks now with support from the press but apart from temporary small increases in support which then ebbs away, the lead is around a steady 10%. It’s almost as if the public have made their minds up and nothing is going to change it.

  8. Does anyone have a link to a report which details how much money is actually needed to live?

    Obviously, because of rent differences (between London and Scotland/Wales etc), housing benefit would have to be excluded from this figure but I’m very interested in seeing how such a figure compares to current/proposed benefit levels.

  9. @Allan Christie

    RAF
    “The polls show that politicians are very poor at articulating where wefare and benefit money is actually spent”
    ______
    AC
    “So are the Tories.. maybe if they came out and said how much the govt spends on welfare for the unemployed and how much welfare they spend on households with incomes between £50,000 -£100,000 (family tax credit etc ) then it might actually raise a few moral eyebrows”
    ___________

    Agreed. But who currently benefits from the public’s general misunderstanding of the true picture, if not the Tories?

  10. Labour now trying to recover lost ground by announcing new policies where benefits are linked to contributions:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/06/labour-plans-shift-welfare-payouts

    Does this involve increasing payments to the recently unemployed…or further reducing those to the long-term unemployed?

    I look forward to the debate!

  11. On polls on benefits ,has there ever been a time when a majority of respondents have said they aren’t generous enough? I doubt it. If a poll was done asking do you think a majority of politicians and journalists are corrupt? You’d probably get a lot of people saying yes but it doesn’t make it true. Few of us know the full details of who gets what,including many of the people responding yes,I’m sure people always think other people shouldn’t get them but I of course do need them.

  12. Paul –

    For longer term trends in attitudes to spending on welfare there is a good analysis in the British Social Attitudes survey here:

    http://www.bsa-29.natcen.ac.uk/read-the-report/welfare/welfare-spending.aspx

  13. RAF

    “Agreed. But who currently benefits from the public’s general misunderstanding of the true picture, if not the Tories?”
    ________

    Good question and I think all the main parties benefit now that welfare spending is in the limelight thanks to some dire scaremongering around a few exceptional cases and resulting in some sort of public backlash,

    Now that the public are concerned about welfare spending (as the polls show) then it’s in the interests of all sides to jump on the populous bandwagon and seem to be acting tough but I wish we could see some actual breakdowns (per household income) where actual welfare is spent then I don’t think people would be so quick to judge the low income/ unemployed!!

  14. On and Off Benefits:

    It interests me that perhaps driven by Media that the term benefits seems in the public mind to apply only to those who do not work. Like it or loathe it the government has been quite successful – assisted by the Media – in focusing the public mind on this as it it represents where all the money is being spent.

    I’d be interested to see how a focus group might feel if they were actually given a more detailed sets of information – for example that tax credits go mainly to the working-poor and cost a good deal more than what the unemployed get etc.

    But for the moment it is a sort of dog-whistle issue.

    I as many of you will know to the point of nausea am greatly concerned that the poor underclass has just gone on getting bigger and bigger all my adult life. The numbers sleeping rough around Victoria are really shocking – and many of them are so young.

    But that is not the debate our politicians want to have and in that we must allow they have been very successful in focusing the public debate on the ‘scroungers’. And me angrily feeling that is morally wrong will not change it one iota.

  15. Thanks Anthony that’s a great site.

  16. There is a good, factual piece on benefits in todays Observer. It deals with the facts & the myths of social security spending.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/06/welfare-britain-facts-myths

  17. John Murphy

    Totally agreed on every point in your post!!.

    “I’d be interested to see how a focus group might feel if they were actually given a more detailed sets of information – for example that tax credits go mainly to the working-poor and cost a good deal more than what the unemployed get etc”
    …….

    Or even how much tax credits go to households with incomes of between £50,000 – £100,000.

    I find it astonishing that a family with two children can claim £1,200 per year per child on an income of £99,999 yet on the same token the govt and others are bashing the unemployed as “scroungers!!”

  18. @Steve2 – “It infuriates me that certain parties promise everyone everything, but refuse to explain how they will do it.”

    It’s called ‘sharing the proceeds of growth’.

  19. Steve2
    “Does anyone have a link to a report which details how much money is actually needed to live?”

    http://www.minimumincomestandard.org/
    Joseph Rowntree foundation does good work on ‘minimum standard of living’ costs – but that does include alcohol, entertainment, etc – so if you took their figures and stripped out any luxuries and housing costs (and remember to get rid of dentistry, if you’re working out an ‘on benefits’ figure), that should give you a pretty good figure.

  20. ALEC

    Have replied to you on previous thread.

  21. I think that what is interesting is that 36% think that not everyone on benefits deserve/ need them but combined UKIP and Tory vote is over 43%. So something odd must be happening with weighting. Dx

  22. I am sure Anthony will correct me if I am wrong but I understand when surveyed the public said they believed basic Job Seekers Allowance to be around £120 Per week .The actual figure is less than half of that.

    Only 3% of the Welfare bill goes on JSA, the publics estimate was around 20% less than 2% is fraudulently claimed (mostly by those who are in work not out of work incidentally) the public guess was around 6% .Nearly half of the budget goes to the old including billions in non pension benefits paid to older people on higher rate tax .

    A huge £12 Billion a Year goes to subsidise the pay of employees whose employers do not pay a living wage and housing benefits are paid to landlords not tenants.

    Removing completely any partisan comment as there are clearly potential political implications in broadening the areas for cuts.

    I still feel it difficult to see how by excluding approximately 80% of the entire welfare budget from potential cuts any significant inroads can be achieved by basically targeting the poorest non retired recipients and excluding everything else

  23. There have been too recent YouGov polls now, this one and the one commissioned by the TUC, that showed 37% and 42% respectively saying benefits are ‘too high.’

    In the light of this I don’t know where the hell the British Social Attitudes Survey got their much-trumpeted 62% figure from. In fact the BSAS seems to have long history of getting results on a wide variety of issues, such as benefits, tax/spend, and redistribution, that seem to lean to the right of most other surveys.

  24. Paul

    “If a poll was done asking do you think a majority of politicians and journalists are corrupt? You’d probably get a lot of people saying yes but it doesn’t make it true”

    And if most people said No it wouldn’t make it untrue

  25. @DRUNKENSCOUSER

    It might relate to when field work was conducted. Given that benefits are in the news then if the polls have moved form 62 to 42 to 37 that would be good news for non-right wingers.

  26. @Couper

    I don’t think that can explain such a stark difference, and definitely not given the BSAS figure was 54% last year.

    I can only conclude it may be down to question wording, or perhaps question order ‘priming’ people to see things through a certain prism. Like I said they seem to have a history of producing results to the right of other surveys, even in the past when public opinion was more pro-benefits and tax and spend. For example in 1997 I believe BSAS showed 62% saying we should raise taxes and raise spending, yet there was an Ipsos Mori survey at the time that asked exactly the same question and found 77% favouring tax and spend.

    Perhaps the nature of the survey could have an impact? I believe BSAS ask people to fill in a questionnaire. Perhaps even in the light of all the gutter press lies and distortions, some people still think it’s socially unacceptable to say to a live person that one favours benefit cuts?

  27. Afternoon All.

    Does anyone have information about the level of support in the polls for the Tories in 1981, 1985 and 1990 please?

    I have a feeling that Cameron may be doing better now than Mrs Thatcher was in 1981, 1985 and 1990. Her Party then went on to win the GE two years later; and yes, I know that John Major won in 1992.

    I think that the Lib Dem figure seems quite high and unrealistic at the moment.

  28. Clane1945

    I know Thatcher was deeply unpopular before 1983, but she was saved by the Falklands, now despite her posturing I can’t see Crazy Kirchner invading any time in the next 2 years, so I doubt Cameron will not be able to rely on any similar boost.

    Cameron’s only hope is some major unforseen event that goes in his favour.

  29. @ChrisLane

    If you look to the right hand side of the page, historical polling is there from the 1970’s until today.

  30. Sorry just spotted the double negative in my post

  31. @ Steve

    I am sure Anthony will correct me if I am wrong but I understand when surveyed the public said they believed basic Job Seekers Allowance to be around £120 Per week .The actual figure is less than half of that.
    ——————–
    I think that people are perhaps ‘smarter’ than we give them for credit for. If you take £71 + average housing benefit + average council tax benefit + free prescriptions etc. it would probably equate to about £120 per week.

    It’s a bit arrogant to think that people just need educating about the facts; people know what it costs them for all the ‘extras’ (about £50 per week) & add it to the £71.

    And they are not thinking of people living on £71 per week long-term, which is why there is concern for the elderly & disabled, they are thinking of that being an amount on which people will survive not live.

    I have been on social security myself, whilst looking for an accountancy apprenticeship after finishing college & waiting for my results to come through. It was awful & I had to borrow money for interview clothes from my mother. I didn’t even have a phone (before the days of mobiles) & had called the agency from a payphone every day at 9am to see whether any of the firms I’d interviewed with would take me on. When I was told one had, I picked up the letter & went straight to the bank for an overdraft so I could pay the electricity bill & repay my mother!

    So, I would be the last person to say that social security is enough to live on, or even survive on for more than a few weeks. But I do not think that people are ignorant about how much it is actually worth as opposed to what the flat cash rate is.

    I also think that people believe there is a lot of fraud precisely because it is impossible to live for any length of time on such a small amount. People believe (probably wrongly) that to live on it for any length of time means that people have other sources of income. Many do, but it is from permitted sources e.g. help from family & friends so it is not fraud. Those who do not have help & cannot quickly find work must be in desperate straits but, as it stands, the public seem to believe that is a proper situation for people who are unemployed to be in!

    I think it will be very difficult to change their minds on that subject so better for politicians to focus on a contributory element – by linking to NIC contributions &/or a compulsory job guaranteed at minimum wage &/or genuine community service (not replacing any paid jobs) which leaves sufficient time for people to look for paid employment.

    Apologies for such a very long comment; thanks to all who took the time to read it!

  32. Amber

    Went through a similar thing as you. I have an ok job now in an accounts payable department, but still haven’t been able to pay off my debts. Not sure about whether to save up for Uni, or just go for something like ACCA.

  33. Amber/Steve – You’re both wrong! ;) It was the same poll I link to in the original article about how much fraud people think there is.

    People were asked how much a couple with two children would receive in jobseekers allowance excluding any other benefits such as housing benefit, child benefit, council tax benefit and so on.

    Jobseekers for a couple is actually £111, people said an average £146, so it wasn’t as much of an overestimate as Steve thought. However, people were asked to exclude housing benefit, council tax benefit and so on, from their estimate so one way or other they were wrong. Either they were misunderstanding the instructions in the question or wrongly estimating the level of benefit support people received…or, more likely, a mixture of both.

  34. I have a feeling that Cameron may be doing better now than Mrs Thatcher was in 1981,

    I doubt we will have a “Popular” War to take peoples minds off the economic situation or a new centre party to split the centre/ left vote.

    The SDP Liberal Alliance peaked in early 1982 with 50% while the Tories were running at 25%.

    Perhaps a lesson there for UKIP support doesn’t mean seats.

  35. A few people have commented on the disconnect between the popularity of benefit cuts and the Tory VI but maybe it ain’t so surprising, it might be a case of mistrusting motives. I would love to see a poll on what the public believe is the motivation behind benefit reforms

  36. Just for once, I will not comment on how stupid we voters are. The first time you learn about benefits is when you are on them and as Amber explained, it’s a shock, I am sure.

    So no Philpott bounce as far as one can tell. Also, there is a more liberal (caring?) attitude to the subject of benefits than one might have supposed. Perhaps there will be a late kick-in on VI in the next few days; that does sometimes occur.

    Otherwise, it will teach the populists to keep their mouths shut, as I believe some hasty benefits quotes related to Philpott could rebound on them down the line.

  37. It baffles me how these myths about benefits have managed to have been perpetuated for so long. The tories have certainly done exceedingly well with their propaganda.

  38. David A
    Well my point was – it hasn’t, and they haven’t, apparently, unless we see a change in the next few days.

  39. @ Anthony

    Jobseekers for a couple is actually £111, people said an average £146…
    ————————
    I think that in this instance people are making the simple ‘error’ of 2 x £71 = £142. And it’s not actually an error to do that per se because that is the amount for contributory JSA which is not means tested & is available to each person in a couple, for 6 months, if both have been working & become unemployed (at around the same time).

    For the question to correctly draw out the figure £111 it would have had to specify income-based, non-contributory JSA which I don’t think it did.

  40. Amber
    I am sure you may be right there. How encouraging, generally, to see an adult attitude being held by voters to the issue. The value of these polls is great indeed.

  41. Chris,
    Ipsos-Mori
    1981 had Con 30-ish, Lab 40-ish until late 1981 when Alliance polled 40-ish, with Lab and Con on 30-ish each.
    Tories then recovered to 40-50% in 1982, with support dropping from Alliance and moving to Con.

    Not really a comparable time.

    1985 saw a Lab lead of between -8 (Jan 1985, Con 42, Lab 34) and +6 (Sep 1985, Con 31, Lab 37), but Lab only achieved a lead great than +4 three times that whole year.

    Not really a comparable time.

    1990 saw Lab leads as high as +23, but those quickly faded once Thatcher was replaced as leader. And it ignores the fact that pre-1992 polls really exaggerated the Labour lead due to the ‘shy Tory’ effect.

    Not really a comparable time.

  42. Guardian/ICM –
    1985 – saw Con leads of +9% (Con 42, Lab 33) in January 1985, falling to Lab leads of +5 (Con 31, Lab 36).
    1990 – Saw Lab lead of +24% (although often much smaller than that), but shrank with Thatcher’s replacement, but again polling in 1992 was wrong due to the ‘shy Tory’ effect.

    Completely different set of contextual circumstances and poll trends.

  43. Interesting responses to the questions on Class identity.

    LDs more Middle Class than Cons ( 61% to 57%) less Working Class than Cons ( 24% to 34%)

    UKIP supporters least Middle Class of the lot.

    UKIP supporters more ” Traditional Working Class” than Labour ( 42% to 33%)

  44. @ Howard

    I think people who are unemployed after working continuously for several years are shocked when they discover that non-contributory JSA is paid at the same rate as contributory. And, if you have children, all JSA for having children &/or being a single parent is means-tested. There is no family element to contributions based JSA.

  45. @Steve2

    “I would very much like to see Labour prove they can deliver on all their spending promises without running huge unsustainable deficits.
    It infuriates me that certain parties promise everyone everything, but refuse to explain how they will do it.
    Labour and SNP are cornering this market at the mo.”

    Well, Steve, that’s just the reverse of the problem at the mo when talking about Labour – they haven’t “promised” anything at all! (I am not in a position to comment on the SNP from down here in leafy Berkshire!) Indeed, when talking about Labour I fear they are not going to come up with “Big Ideas” to capture the public imagination as they are leaving things so late that it looks like “a tinker here and there” to existing policies announced just before the election. Whilst I think the People’s Forum and new Left party project of the Trade Union & Socialist Alliance so beloved of the otherwise intelligent Owen Jones is a potential “losing deposits” farce, at least they are through their supporting unions presenting an alternative vision to the austerity programme. If we are going to end up with anything more than just a pink rinse austerity government after 2015, Labour must come up with something big!!!! What about a Registered Electors’ Citizen payment of £54 to everyone? You could reduce all other benefits including Old Age pensions and actually Abolish Child Benefit at the same time at that amount for every man and women over 18. As the poll shows there is a huge desire for a massive reform of the benefits system – so, why don’t Labour turn it to their advantage by coming up with a big redistributionist idea like that which could benefit all those on less than average incomes?

    So, Steve, Labour’s problem is that they are coasting by promising nothing much – rather than putting forward a radical plan and campaigning for it – as they did in the run-up to the 1945 election – and won a landslide for it! It isn’t a question of promises that cannot afford to be fulfilled – its a question of who you take the money off that is there and who you give it to instead!

  46. @”its a question of who you take the money off that is there and who you give it to instead!”

    mmm-would make a catchy slogan .

    I can see some good posters too. Evil Bankers-Starving Mothers-Robin Hood -Maid Marion.

  47. @”What about a Registered Electors’ Citizen payment of £54 to everyone? You could reduce all other benefits including Old Age pensions and actually Abolish Child Benefit at the same time at that amount for every man and women over 18.”

    Hmmm.

    47 million registered voters at £54 pw= £ 132bn pa

    Total Current Welfare costs :-

    From DWP :-
    State Pen £ 80bn
    HB £ 13 bn
    JSA £5 bn
    others £ 67bn
    Total £ 165 bn

    From HMC
    CB £ 12 bn
    Tax Credits £ 23bn
    Total £35 bn

    Total £200bn

    So -Cost of Citizen Payment -£132 bn pa
    Less reduction of State Pension -10 million @ £54pw=£28 bn.
    Leaving £104bn pa
    Less all Child Benefit £ 12bn pa
    Leaving £92 bn pa to be deducted from all existing Welfare costs over & above State Pension & Child Benefit-ie

    £200bn minus £80 bn minus £12 bn =£108bn pa.

    So…..All other Welfare benefits to be reduced by 92/108ths

    ……or 85%

    Mind you….it would be one way of getting those unregistered voters to register.

  48. @ Colin

    Yes, indeed! If Labour could spin it with posters that we want £54 pw for everyone – and the Bankers and Rich Property Investors in their Mansions can pay for it – now there’s a majority waiting to be won IMO!

  49. @Colin

    “Mind you….it would be one way of getting those unregistered voters to register.”

    Yes, and the beauty of only Registered Electors for UK Parliamentary Elections being eligible for the £54 is that it answers the UKIP question totally – foreigners aren’t eligible to get it – full stop! No benefit tourism…..

  50. @ Colin

    Thank you for your sums – very informative! Looking at them I think you would have to raise more from taxation to protect the disabled from an 85% cut of their welfare over £54. Mansion Tax perhaps? Otherwise, I think it works…..but it is very bold! Too bold for our timid establishment parties nowadays sadly I suspect?

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