While the polling inquiry continues and we all work out what went wrong the Guardian aren’t publishing their ICM/Guardian polls, but they are still being done. Martin Boon has tweeted July’s results, which have topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%.

As I wrote in my previous poll, YouGov released a second bite of budget polling on Friday, this part conducted after the initial press reaction to the budget. This wave highlights some of the public’s rather complex views on benefits and the living wage.

Public attitudes to welfare are complicated, sometimes contradictory and it is easy to cherry pick polling results to show the public support or oppose big cuts to benefits, depending on one’s views. At the simplest level people like the idea of benefit cuts because they think they go to people who don’t deserve them and who haven’t contributed to them. Exactly who they imagine these people are is more difficult to say, since if you ask about most groups who recieve benefits people oppose cuts.

So, overall 38% of people say cuts to benefits have gone too far, 23% they they are about right, 24% would go even further. Asked about the level of benefits and the number of people who can claim them 45% say benefits are too generous, 40% they they are too low (23%) or about right (17%); 57% say too many people are eligible, 30% that too few (19%) or about the right number of people are eligible (11%). Looking at those figures people seem to be pretty pro-cut.

Asked about individual groups of people who receive benefits though and the public suddenly become much more charitable. Only 4% think retired people on the state pension get too much in benefits, only 9% think disabled people do, only 12% think people in low paid work do. 19% think working people with children get too much in benefits, but 33% think they should get more. Opinion on unemployed people is the most evenly balanced, with 28% saying they get too much in benefits, 24% too little, 31% about right. The only group where people come down heavily on the side of too much money being spent on benefits is better off retired people… the group that politicians never cut benefits from because they vote.

This raises the question of why people think benefits are too high and too widely spread if they don’t think the unemployed, pensioners, parents, disabled people or the working poor get too much. I hardly think when people talk about benefit cuts they are thinking of winter fuel payments, rather I expect the support comes from the continuing belief that lots of benefits go to categories not asked about like “people who aren’t really disabled”, “people who could work but can’t”, “asylum seekers” and so on.

Attitudes were similarly complex on the government’s national living wage. We saw in Thursday’s poll that this received overwhelming support. This poll however found rather more nuanced attitude. 31% of people think that the living wage will end up increasing unemployment… yet only 7% think it is being set too high (the implication being that some proportion of people think it more important that jobs pay a decent wage than unemployment is minimised). The principle of the government’s approach is backed – 39% think it’s better for government to reduce in-work poverty by forcing business to pay higher wages (even if it increases unemployment) compared to 19% of people who think it is better for government to reduce in-work poverty by using the tax and benefit system (even if it costs a lot). However, asked about their overall perceptions of the budget people think, by 39% to 28%, that it will leave people in low paid jobs worse off. The question the poll hasn’t asked is how much that matters to people. Too what extent, if any, would people rather low paid workers got more money in wages and less in benefits even if they are less well off.

337 Responses to “Latest ICM poll and more YouGov budget polling”

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  1. If there’s a Welsh one I’m game, though.

  2. Top Hat

    In the 18th century, Edinburgh was known as the “Ahens of the North” due to the vigour of the Scottish Enlightenment.

    I’d have expected anyone reasonably knowledgeable about the major cities of the UK to have known that, just as Manchester was known as “Cottonopolis” in the 19th.

    But perhaps my expectation of general knowledge among the population is too high.

  3. Top Hat

    Just remembered that, IIRC, you are young and may not have been taught the relevant cultural references (rather like my having to study Pope and Dryden at school).

    If you have a look at yesterday’s EVEL debate, there are a number of Welsh and Irish (as well as Scottish) references, which clearly confused Chris Grayling, so you are not alone. :-)

    According to the Encyclopedia of Wales, Cardiff’s claim to fame seems to rest on its ability to have marginal Tory constituencies. Its status as a capital being reliant on a written answer by the Home Secretary in 1955. A decision that “had more to do with the fact that it contained marginal Conservative constituencies than any reasoned view of what functions a Welsh capital should have”.

    Maybe Cardiff as the “New Delhi of the West”?

  4. @07052015

    It’s hardly the Match Girls v Bryant and May

  5. Corbin to win? Does labour really have such a death wish? DC would think all his birthdays had come at once.

  6. New Lib Dem leader announced today. It’s probably going to be Farron, but by how much? And what will the effects be?

    Bit of trivia that if George Osborne becomes Tory leader and Andy Burnham wins the Labour leadership – neither that unlikely – all three party leaders would represent constituencies in the North West. Maybe Paul Nuttall can take over UKIP as well and get four for four.

  7. WOLF

    @”It’s hardly the Match Girls v Bryant and May”

    Certainly not-just come back after three days at Jeremy Hunt’s outfit.

    A few hours in the Nightmare World that is A&E on a Saturday night..

    A silent & pointless Sunday in the amusingly named Accute Assessment Ward……not being assessed.

    A few hours in the Heaven of Peace & Professionalism that is a Specialist Medical Ward on a Monday.

    This is a stupid & dysfunctional system built entirely around the priorities of the consultants.

    It will be one helluva battle though & hunt will need nerves of steel.

  8. Robert N

    “DC would think all his birthdays had come at once.”

    You mean it would age him that much?


    “Corbin to win? Does labour really have such a death wish? DC would think all his birthdays had come at once.”


    Well Dave’s already had all his birthdays via a party falling on its sword, courtesy of Nick Clegg…

  10. Sam

    “If people still hold such opinions this government may face difficulties as the benefit cuts bite more.”

    AS AW says, rightly (IMO) “Looking at those figures people seem to be pretty pro-cut.” See his discussion paper above reflecting on YouGov polling n the budget.

  11. @colin

    “This is a stupid & dysfunctional system built entirely around the priorities of the consultants.”


    You go too far sir!!

    I mean, to be fair, there’s the needs of the nurses as well, esp. if your consultant is on his hols…

  12. MrNameless

    Must be that Northern Powerhouse we keep hearing about!

  13. Sam

    “The remedy for reducing health inequalities is the redistribution of wealth, income and power.”

    Can’t see that agenda getting voted in at a GE any time soon. People who really need benefits will vote for them. THe rest will not vote for them if it means higher taxes (=redistribution) IMO.

  14. “Looking at those figures people seem to be pretty pro-cut.”


    Or half-cut…


    It doesn’t mean people working 7 days a week.

    The solution is found in what HR people call The Shift System.

    But it needs employees with contracts which require 7 day cover, and an attitude of mind which does not see patients in Hospital on a Sunday as in some sort of waiting room-waiting for proper doctors to turn up some time on Monday morning.

  16. TopHat

    Edingburgh is not a European capital city since it is in Scotland which is part of the United Kingdom, capital London.

  17. Colin

    Sorry to hear you had to use A&E, your experience does not sound good. Hunt is correct in the need for new Consultant contracts. It will be a hell of a fight but it has to be one if the NHS is to work properly

  18. TOH

    The “assessments” I received from “consultants” on Sunday ( two) were completely pointless. A superficial reading of the file-repeat of the same endless question with a verdict that I need to see the x team on Monday. Whatever these people were paid for that aimless wandering around was money wasted.

    The procedure which I finally had, and which I have had on all too many occasions over some years should have been available on Sunday.

  19. @Colin

    In such a big system, it’s hard to find enough peeps with that attitude of mind. Or to get a complex system working to line up the ducks to that end.

    Same as with education.

    Private sector can cherry-pick enough of them if it doesn’t have to cater across the board. If it does, then you get… healthcare in America etc.

    People don’t get it. My partner had the school carpeted. Teachers initially weren’t keen. They didn’t see the reasons, including to stop pupils running down the corridor ‘cos they liked the echoey sound it made on the wooden floor in the corridors. Which can cause accidents and diminish behaviour.

    Lots and lots of little things like that add up. They often didn’t see it at private school either. Some people, like Steve Jobs, REALLY get it, are genius at it, at how you put things together to make a really good system or product that works properly, but not enough of ’em about.

  20. @colin

    When our currency was in a mess and close to collapsing, they put Newton in charge of the Royal Mint. He was pretty ruthless about it, but boy did he turn things around.

    But there are not many Newtons…

  21. TNS Scottish poll conducted in late June / early July (changes from their May/June poll):

    Holyrood constituency

    SNP – 60% =
    Lab – 20% +1
    Con – 14% -1
    Lib – 5% +2
    Other – 2% -1

    Holyrood regional

    SNP – 51% +1
    Lab – 21% +2
    Con – 13% -1
    Green – 7% -3
    Lib – 5% =


    Ho hum


    It may be hard-but thats what its managers should be doing.

    The NHS is there to provide healthcare for patients. -those who fall ill on a Saturday or Sunday, as well as those with the foresight to do so on a weekday.

  23. @colin

    I know, but hard to find enough of them. Whether private sector or public. And they don’t necessarily get into a position of power to change things. Often they’re held back, because the rest gang up against.

    Even Steve Jobs was removed from his own company for a while.

  24. Most people west of Bathgate would maintain that Glasgow is the real Capital of Scotland.

  25. @colin

    When Whittle came up with the idea for the jet engine, he went to the MoD for funding. His idea for one of THE most significant inventions of the Twentieth Century was rejected, because the guy evaluating it thought he’d got his calculations wrong when he hadn’t.

    Of course the guy evaluating also had his own engine project he was pushing.

    So Whittle soldiers on alone, has a couple of nervous breakdowns, and eventually the govt. provides a relative pittance to assist with development. After the war, they handed it to Rolls Royce, cutting out one of our greatest inventors. He still invented some stuff for the oil industry, but should have been more at the heart of things.

    Look what happened to Turing…

  26. @colin

    Bear in mind that Whittle also struggled for funding from the private sector… for the effing Jet engine!!

    Peeps don’t get it.

    Sometimes they do get it, but screw with it. Thus Guttenberg gets some funding to develop the printing press, then they pull the funding and “acquire” it from him. I think eventually his town gave him a pension or summit. Whittle got a small award down the line. He should have been worth billions…


    Whittle, Guttenburg, Turing, Rolls Royce & Steve Jobs are irrelevant to the subject in question.

    I didn’t think about any of them on Sunday-just my health & the dysfunctional organisation which was then in charge of it.

  28. @Colin

    Yeah, I might have thought the same thing, until I experienced the health service myself.

    What I am telling you helped save my life. If you wanna carry on having your health experiences, that’s up to you.

  29. @Colin

    Would you have wanted to work regular Sundays when you were working. I know I wouldn’t.

    I’m sorry your experience was not very good but I know from experience 7 years ago that consultants do work weekends. I had a dual op to remove part of the bowel and part of the kidney. The only time both consultants were available at the same time was a Saturday so Saturday morning it was.

    After a collapse in hospital a week later on a Sunday, I had a CT scan followed by a procedure to block the kidney bleed within a few hours This was all performed by staff on call. I have nothing but praise for them.

  30. @Peter Bell

    Same here, having broken myself on the weekend in a very silly orthopaedic manner, I was operated on by an excellent surgeon an Sunday morning. That said, she thanked me warmly for providing such an excellent example for her students but asked if I could possibly do it on a weekday next time ….

    Whenever I came in for the subsequent non-emergency surgery that was required, I would see her early on doing ward rounds etc. and would invariably see her again walking down the ward some time in the evening. Of course she may have been golfing much of the rest of the time, but I doubt it.


    Whether I would want to or not is irrelevant. If I worked in an organisation charged with providing a 24/7 service to customers , I would expect to work shifts which include weekends-whether in a Supermarket, or a Hospital.

    The fact that your weekend experience differs from mine just shows what a patchwork it all is.

    I join you in your praise for specialist care in the NHS. When it is delivered it is superb , as I know only too well.

  32. TOH

    I am sure you are right that people are not now going to vote for redistribution of wealth in order to remedy health inequalities. I suspect this is because many people do not understand the complexity of health inequalities or the effect they have on society.

    Audit Scotland reported in 2012 on efforts by the SNP government to reduce health inequalities. It was quite a critical report. However, there was no real attempt to explain the social effects of health inequalities. Audit Scotland’s report made the front page in both of Scotland’s main papers, The Herald and The Scotsman. Here again there was little beyond the fact that health inequalities result in early deaths.

    Poverty frequently causes chronic stress. Chronic stress raises levels of cortisol. Cortisol thickens arteries. Susan Everson examined large numbers of depressed Finnish men, grading them into four groups according to their degree of hopelessness. She measured their carotid arteries. The most hopeless had the most thickening. You can imagine what prolonged unemployment or prolonged poverty and the use of foodbanks can do to hope.

    Children in poverty quite often have difficulty learning. Quite often they fall behind and never make up lost ground Too much cortisol will impair learning performance. Governments may be spending a lot of money in attempts to help such children catch up lost ground. There is no guarantee it will work. These children may never achieve their potential.

    The effects of poverty can get into the genetic material so the adverse experiences of people ages ago can still be operative in sons and grandsons even though they are not exposed to those adverse experiences.

    Poverty has links to alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence and child abuse, early pregnancies and other social ills.

    If benefit cuts increase health inequalities then, in my opinion, polling would be more useful to policy makers if it those participating were more knowledgeable about the effects of poverty on the health of the poor.

  33. Regarding what I was saying yesterday about Germany’s reputation being trashed – take a look at the following article


    Notice the comments, particularly the readers picks. Brits tend to go on and on about the war, but Americans generally don’t unless it is to take pot shots at the French for surrendering. So their re-examination of Germany is new.

    If I was a German business person, I’d be worried.

  34. “Whether I would want to or not is irrelevant. If I worked in an organisation charged with providing a 24/7 service to customers , I would expect to work shifts which include weekends-whether in a Supermarket, or a Hospital.”


    Well, one might reasonably expect many things. Having freed up the bankers one might have hoped they wouldn’t use it to trash the economy.

    And of course it’s a patchwork. In a sufficiently large and complex enough system, you won’t be able to find enough people to do things well enough. Diagnosis can be v. difficult, as can treatment, and optimising the efficiency of summat as complex as a health provider, with so many different treatments and services.

    Those who can tend to get burned out compensating or get marginalised.*

    Before I left hospital, I was telling the doctors what anaesthetics to use…

    *Except in wartime. Then they tend to put the best peeps in the right jobs. Once the war is over they can get back to their empire building squabbles and prosecuting Turing etc.

  35. Tim Farron wins the Lib Dem leadership.

  36. Liberal Democrat leadership result:
    FARRON – 56.5%
    LAMB – 43.5%
    (turnout 56%)

    Closer than might have been expected.

  37. Farron -19,137
    Lamb – 14,760

    Farron wins with fewer votes than he got in his constituency.

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