YouGov have some polling out on attitudes towards the government’s tax credit changes – full tabs are here. They suggest that the policy is seen as unfair, and seen as likely to have a negative financial effect upon most recipients… but people are evely divided on whether it should go ahead.

Overall the changes are seen as unfair by 46% of people, fair by 28% of people. YouGov then asked about the combined effect of the tax credit changes, the minimum wage increase and the increased tax allowances and whether it will leave different groups better or worse off. By 45% to 1% people think they will leave those out of work worse off, by 57% to 13% they will those on the minimum wage will be worse off, by 53% to 7% they think those in work and earning low wages (but above the minimum wage) will be worse off. Whatever the actual facts of whether people will be better or worse off, the government have clearly failed to convince the public that the combined effect of the policies will leave people better off.

While it was seen as unfair and bad for most of the less well off, when YouGov asked it if it should go ahead people were evenly divided. People didn’t like the principle of the changes – 53% thought they were a bad thing, only 21% a good thing. However, within that 53% of people who disapproved, 16% thought they should go ahead regardless given the state of the public finances, 37% thought they should be stopped and the money found elsewhere. Adding up those who like the changes and those who dislike them but reluctantly think they should happen brings us to 37% wanting the changes to go ahead, 37% wanting them stopped.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily answer the real question on the extent to which the policy damages the Conservative party, and George Osborne in particular. Currently we are still talking about a political row within Westminster that most people will pay relatively little attention to (the survey found 15% of people saying they were playing close attention to the story… and it’s likely polls over-represent those who pay attention to politics anyway). If the changes go through though the political impact will be on the number of people who actually see their income fall… assuming, of course, that they are still sore about it in four years time and it hasn’t been dulled by the passage of time. There is a good reason why politicians implement the unpleasant and unpopular decisions they want to make early in the Parliamentary term.

On other matters, Ipsos MORI have their monthly political monitor in today’s Evening Standard. Topline voting intentions are CON 36%(-3), LAB 32%(-2), LDEM 10%(+1), UKIP 12%(+5), GRN 3%(-1). Labour and the Tories are both down, with UKIP popping up to the sort of level that we’re used to seeing in other polls, but which is unusually high from MORI this year. Full tabs are here.

66 Responses to “YouGov on tax credits & latest MORI voting intentions”

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  1. “In July Ipsos MORI had Tories leading Labour 38:28 amongst social grade C1s. Today it’s at 36:32….to Labour.”

    Crossbreaks not to be trusted, but this from @election_data on Twitter caught my eye. Let’s watch and see if replicated in other polls.

  2. Margin of error on those cross breaks is about +/- 7%, so changes are not significant.

    And besides, one should probably wait until seeing a pattern across lots of polls *before* speculating, otherwise you end up constantly getting excited over random noise, grabbing at data that appears to fit a narrative, and ignoring stuff that doesn’t.

    For example, if one was to get excited about that, one also needs to explain stuff that doesn’t fit so neatly – e.g. C2s have apparently gone from a 5 point Labour lead, to a 16 point Tory lead…. or it’s just random noise.

    Always best to ignore the crossbreaks in individual voting intention polls. That way madness lies.

  3. @MrNameless

    I spotted those tweet too. In fact this one caught my eye particularly – “In September Ipsos-MORI had Tories leading Labour 40:35 among female respondents. Today it’s 39:32….to Labour.” If there is any effect I would be astonished if it was quite that large, but interesting nonetheless.

    Of course, George Osborne will almost certainly play his usual trick come the autumn statement – i.e. he’ll announce some new policy that means that all of the previous calculations are redundant and it is suddenly harder to say that so many people are worse off.

  4. @MrNameless
    Aggregate first, for firmer foundations to your construction.

  5. I have been noticing the rise of the Conservatives in the Scottish crossbreaks this poll 30% to Labour on 12% SNP 51%. The Scottish crossbreaks were a good guide to the rise of the SNP after the referendum so I wonder if perhaps this is a portent of things to come. As you may know I have a theory that the Conservatives may over take Labour in the May elections.

  6. If Osborne is clever, he could completely turn this fuss over tax credits into an advantage in the Autumn statement. Pundits and the media are always saying he is a political chancellor (could anyone name one that wasn’t), so a snip here and there, a tweak maybe, he could possibly wrap it all up into a new policy and come out looking as though he is both practical and prudent.

    I’m sure he won’t want to allow McDonnell to bask in any perceived victory through a climb down, despite McDonnell’s assertions that Labour would not make any political advantage out of this (thereby making political advantage out of this by making those remarks).

    Unless the Lords do a bit of Kill Bill first, then what?

  7. @Bernard

    I expect the Lords to pass the ‘delay’ motion today. At the autumn statement something will be announced that will change the calculations. The Lords will then be asked to look again and, presumably, will feel that they can’t then do more than ‘regret’.

    I suppose the difficult bit is what the government say between now and the autumn statement – the answer is I’m not sure.

  8. @Bernarn

    There’s politically clever and politically manipulative. Politically clever people are not seen; the whole thing is ridiculous he tried to trap Labour and has now found himself trapped (no doubt The Lords revolt is a big part of this as well, the government is on a really weak leg here, was this policy political or economical?).

    I mean some of those poll figures are astounding. 45% to 1% think they will leave people off worse. Terrible numbers for the government side.

    End of the day – theres a reason Cameron promised a freeze on tax cuts before the election, and theres a reason Osborne’s enemies are making this a big thing. Its not an election platform.

  9. Quite right, Anthony. The tax credits thing has been getting a bit of traction, but individual crossbreaks don’t mean much.

  10. AW – The ‘Latest Voting intention’ list near the top right of this window doesn’t appear to have been updated since September 23rd. I find that a handy little guide to spot trends that look interesting and worth investigating further. Have you abandoned it?

  11. Pete – nope, I’ll get round to it. Just been doing the EU referendum polls and the swingometers!

  12. Ok, sorry to nag. Maybe it’s time you started employing staff. I bet you could get a 14-yr-old kid to do the donkey work for about £2 an hour.

    Whoops! Sorry, I know we’re not supposed to give away our political affiliations. :-)

  13. @pete b

    They have the same thing but more detailed on wikipedia and it’s updated every day:

    There’s a similar page for EU referendum polls

  14. Omni – thanks. Very useful.

  15. Green Party support seems to have totally disappeared…

  16. @Interested

    Not very surprising given that the people voting for them at the GE were essentially Corbynistas.

  17. @interested

    They’ve gone to Labour. But Labour report has stayed fairly stable since the election. So while Labour has been boosted by Greens (making their voter distribution even less efficient), I think some Labour support has gone to other parties since May. Difficult to tell where it’s gone, and in what quantities.

  18. “Labour report”
    Labour support*

  19. @Interested,

    3% isn’t nothing, but yes it’s not great. They’ve had zero publicity since their conference. They’ve probably the worst votes to membership ratio of any reasonably serious political party right now.

  20. @Omnishambles

    Seeing as the LDs are up to 10 maybe thats where some has gone. In Scotland, more haemorrhaging to the SNP?

  21. @interested

    Nah, the 10% is just one poll. Lib Dems have been pretty much static since the election. I would guess UKIP are the biggest beneficiaries but there’s no way to know until the 2016 elections.

    Also the extra Green support is only a few percent so if Labour are losing a few percent to other parties, and it’s split, the changes to other parties’ VI would be tiny. Another thing is that everyone has been changing their methodology.


    Yes, I do wonder how the Greens membership will hold up. According to the Graun the membership peaked in August and had dropped by a 1000 toward the end of September.

  23. It seems as though the general media opinion is that the Tories have rather lost the plot on tax credits, from a point of view of spin and narrative control that they are normally so good at. A phrase I’ve heard a lot of commentators spouting recently is “if you’re explaining, you’re losing”, which poses the question: why haven’t the living wage and free childcare caught the public consciousness in the same way the tax credit cuts have? What went wrong with the message? Were people ultimately suspicious of the Tories all along, but voted for them as the lesser of two evils? Did they believe the living wage stuff at the last budget was too-good-to-be-true electioneering?

    I doubt this will do much damage to the Tories in the long run; it’s a marathon not a sprint. In the last Parliament, the Tories looked down and out after the notorious “Omnishambles” budget but ended up timing their run to the line so well that nobody even saw them coming (if you’ll excuse the drawn-out metaphor). It may have more of an impact on George Osborne’s leadership bid, but the Conservative Party membership is something of an unknown quantity.

  24. @Polltroll

    I heard what Paul Johnson said to the select committee, ie most people will be worse off, and the other changes to soften blow don’t prevent this.

    This sort of information would appear to be more persuasive than the Government has been.

    However, this is only a major issue for the Government should people be more convinced by Labour’s approach, which would seem not to be the case.

  25. Peers vote to delay implementation of tax credit cuts by majority of 30

    The Meacher amendment delaying the implementation of tax credit cuts has been passed by 307 votes to 277 – a majority of 30.

  26. Peers vote to protect those who lose out from the tax credit cuts by majority of 17

    The Hollis amendment has also been passed by a smaller majority. It was passed by 289 votes to 272 – a majority of 17.

  27. Here’s the Hollis amendment which has just made it through the Lords.

    “…this House declines to consider the draft Regulations laid before the House on 7 September until the Government, (1) following consultation have reported to Parliament a scheme for full transitional protection for a minimum of three years for all low-income families and individuals currently receiving tax credits before 5 April 2016, such transitional protection to be renewable after three years with parliamentary approval, and (2) have laid a report before the House, detailing their response to the analysis of the draft Regulations by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and considering possible mitigating action.”

    Hollis made clear that, by “full transitional protection”, she meant exempting existing claimants from the cuts, at least until they migrate over to universal credit.

  28. …at least until they migrate over to universal credit.

    Is the pressure now on IDS as well as Osborne?

  29. The wording of the final set of YouGov questions on tax credits is rather imbalanced. Two options both of which effectively support the government, compared to only one against, and with prominence being given only to the government’s main arguments on public spending and “the deficit” to boot (as opposed to pointing out say that the impact is falling on low paid people in work, or any other of the arguments used by opponents of the changes).

    So I think that AW’s conclusion that “people are evely divided on whether it should go ahead” is more a manifestation of the peculiar wording of that specific YouGov question than a genuine reflection of the balance of opinion.

  30. I wonder whether Osborne’s insistence on these tax credit cuts is actually part of a strategy to undermine Cameron (because of his promise) in order to hasten his demise, and for Osborne to grab the leadership before Boris gains momentum?

    Osborne’s supposed to be very Macchiavellian, but am I over-thinking it?

  31. No 10 saying this is a constitutional crisis.

  32. Hmmm…No 11 saying there will be transitional arrangements announced in November.

    Constitutional crisis or measure worthy of a response? Who is running the government’s press message tonight?

  33. @Alec

    I think a few people like Lord Butler, or perhaps David Cameron’s old tutor, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, might consider it a constitutional crisis, but I don’t see the public at large buying that argument.

    If the Government push this line too hard, they will most likely come across as sore losers.

  34. Good evening all from Westminster North.

    “CON 36%(-3), LAB 32%(-2), LDEM 10%(+1), UKIP 12%(+5), GRN 3%(-1)”

    It appears UKIP is taking chunks off the Tories and Labour.

    The government has been dealt a major blow after the House of Lords voted to delay tax credit cuts and to compensate those affected in full.
    Peers voted by 289 votes to 272 to provide full financial redress to the millions of recipients affected.
    Bad poll ratings and now a snub from the undetected shambles that is the Lords…not a good day for the Tories and we still have the small matter of the inevitable Tory EU implosion to come.

  35. Most seem to be concluding this lords defeat is bad news for the Cons, is there a possibility though that the opposition parties have “forced” the government to dodge a bullet? Further down the line the cons might be thanking labour for this in making them amend what was undoubtedly a unpopular policy.

  36. The opposition has forced the government to dodge a bullet. That’s the opposition’s job. But opposition politics is about lining up the next bullet whilst the government are still obsessed with the previous one. This is when the opposition gets an opportunity to change the game.

  37. Oh the Tories should be thankful but Osborne reminds us he and others talk himself up but his supposed political brilliance has just been someone with an easy ride. The majority conservative government have so far been able to achieve little and a lot of what they are passing looks driven by Osbornes short term thinking.

    Their message around this whole thing has been messy and purely negative. The weaknesses in Cameron’s cabinet from May to Osborne makes me wonder how they’ll fair with a new leader.

  38. You wait ages for a YouGov poll and tax credits and then two come along at once. One was one that YouGov seem to have done for their own benefit (YG) that Anthony links to above, the other was for 38 Degrees (38D), the results of which can be found on the YouGov archive here:

    The two polls were simultaneous (21-23 Oct and 22-23 Oct) and of similar size (1595 and 1625) (YG and 38D respectively).

    Some of the questions were similar and got similar responses to slightly different options. Asked if the changes should go ahead the sample for 38 Degrees splits five ways:

    Should go ahead – continue with plans to change and cut tax credits 24%

    Should go ahead – the changes and cuts should still occur but at a lower rate or at another time 19%

    Should not go ahead – cancel plans to change and cut tax credits altogether 19%

    Should not go ahead – cuts and changes should be made elsewhere 19%

    Not sure 19%

    Which suggests 20-25% fully in favour plus another 20% limited support with a roughly equal number opposed – a similar picture to YG. Similarly YG’s do you think the proposed changes to tax credits are fair or unfair? split 28% to 46% while 38D’s do you think that these proposed cuts and changes are a good or bad idea? went 34% to 48%.

    The two surveys have different cross-tabs: 38D breaks down to the 8 EU regions, while YG looks at how closely voters have been ‘following the story’. The more they have, the more they are opposed – which you might expect (you will pay more attention to something that might harm you), but if the story continues to be prominent it could suggest that greater knowledge will swing people against the cuts – something we saw with the bedroom tax.

    38D were more concerned with the political impact and asked From what you have seen or heard, do you think that David Cameron has or has not broken a pre-election promise by making changes to cut tax credits? 44% said he had, only 23% not. 33% said Don’t Know, including 40% of Conservative voters. This is surprising (they’re usually much more certain than average) and suggests a lot of Tories think Cameron has broken his promise, but are too loyal to admit it. (Of course they may also think it’s a good thing that he did).

  39. @Pete B

    Yes, you’re overthinking it.

    Major error from Osborne today to be quite honest. It was quite obvious that the two motions passed by the Lords would be agreed unless GO shifted as soon as they appeared on the order paper. So he should really have made the concessions first, not afterwards. I’m sure that come the autumn statement he will pull off something that allows him to say that people affected won’t be worse off (or at the very least significantly less worse off than they will be under current plans) but in the mean time he’s going to take a significant personal hit.

  40. Also, in the Commons – and I haven’t read the debate yet so may find that the minister made a good case – I’m a bit surprised to see the government not supporting Labour amendments to end the ‘tampon tax’. Would have thought this would be a good chance to both bash Europe and do something left-wing feminist types will like at the same time.

  41. An interesting day. We will have to see what Osborne can come up with later this year.

    So far as I can see, it’s not so much a rebellion, as the government simply not having a majority in the Lords. It does beg some questions about constitutional reform, but as the Tories have been pretty lax about pursuing that to date its hard to see much being done about it. I don’t think packing the Lords with new Tories is really a good option.

    Trouble ahead for the government, and the system, if the opposition parties start to gridlock the government from the red benches.

  42. The 38 Degree poll queried whether the changes “make you think of the government more positively or more negatively” and negatively ‘won’ by 28% to 12%. But that meant that most people said they were unaffected – though the already negatives won here as well 29% to 18%.

    They also asked whether people would be worse or better off under the changes and this showed the minimal impact politically in terms of people’s pockets. Only 16% said they would be worse off and 2% better off, with bias towards the young (26%), but surprisingly little in terms of ABC1/C2DE (13% v 18%) or gender. Politically Conservatives expect to be least affected (8%) but UKIP voters were almost as worried (20%) as Labour’s (22%).

    In theory this sort of issue should have low salience with so few affected, but some may still be unaware of what is coming. Furthermore there may be others who are hit indirectly – grandparents having to fund more than before for instance. But as sometimes with low salience issues, those who do care, may care a lot and change their vote accordingly. And those untouched may still have their perceptions of the government and its intentions altered.

  43. @Neil A

    It seems everywhere you look, we see a constitutional mess.

    The wallpaper started to peel off sometime ago, and there are cracks everywhere.

    I think today also demonstrated that despite acting like they have a decent majority, the realities of have a small majority in the Commons makes governance tough.

  44. @Neil A

    Oh, absolutely. The defeats are already stacking up so it is a big challenge for the government. Packing it with more peers is entirely the wrong thing to do though on many different levels. The right approach is to reform the appointments system to make the House sustainable in the long-term and, in the short-term, to negotiate compromises much as Labour often had to when they were up against in the Lords.

    Actually, I expect that having pulled off this big one tonight peers will be a little cautious for a while – they may not kill the SI on ending individual electoral registration early tomorrow, for instance.

  45. Jack Sheldon

    To be fair, the main misjudgement seems to have be Cameron’s. Osborne had been making vague noises of the sort that will normally pacify the Lords, it was the threats from No 10 of a constitutional crisis if the upper house didn’t do as ordered, that seems to have irritated them into outright opposition.

    I suspect we’ll hear no more of the threats to create hundreds of new peers (something that the public will despise even more than Brenda), though Cameron may be pigheaded enough to try. But ramping things up will only benefit Labour and cause the Lords to dig their heels in.

  46. I thought Pat Hollis was dead

  47. @Roger Mexico

    The briefed threats (including of things that were impossible) certainly didn’t help, though I think they would have lost anyway.

  48. @ Wolf
    Alive… & also kicking, metaphorically speaking.

  49. @Jack Sheldon

    If I was to be truly Machiavellian I would play it something like this.

    1, GO realises that the tax credit plan is too harsh and doesn’t like the longer term electoral consequences of it. Think 10p tax rate abolition, that lost Labour a heap of votes they never won back (my auntie being one of them). Tax credits would be harsher and more wide ranging that that.

    2. GO decides to make it new claimants only, so will save some money and still more money as universal credit rolls out. But he has his reasons revealed later for wanting to push the Lords to a vote. He gets some friendly peers to hint to Labour peers some ideas along those lines.

    3. Labour abstains on the Fatal Motion because they know they can get their own motion, one which GO is comfortable with through and can claim credit (point to Labour)

    4. But the real Lords vote the Tories DID NOT want to lose was the ‘individual voter registration’ vote. Now while everyone is focussed on tax credits and the Lords have a big rebellion the IVR vote goes smoothly

    Hence DC still talking about ‘constitutional crises’.

    So GO is able to change a policy that would have cost him loads of votes and the Tories get their IVR through.


  50. Couper
    Wow! You should be there!

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