We used to get a flurry of opinion polling around a budget, but this year there has been very little. Part of that will be polling’s recent troubles (many companies are doing much less polling than before the election), perhaps it is just because it wasn’t a very interesting budget. If Hammond had done something that was spectacularly unpopular I expect many newspapers would have been scampering to commission a poll, as it was however, it was rather a dull affair and few seem to have bothered. I think the only post-budget poll we’ve seen is YouGov for the Times.

Topline figures there were CON 39%(-1), LAB 41%(-2), LDEM 7%(nc). Fieldwork was Wednesday afternoon/evening and Thursday and changes are from the Sun-Monday before the budget.

Even after a year and a bit in the job a large chunk of the public have no real opinion of Philip Hammond – 48% say they don’t know if he’s doing a good or bad job (20% say good, up five points from before the budget, 32% say bad, down three points from before the budget). Asked whether he or John McDonnell would do a better job as Chancellor 23% pick Hammond, 13% McDonnell and a hefty 64% say don’t know. Put simply, this is a comparison between two people who the general public either don’t know or don’t care about.

Moving to the question of wider economic expectations, people expect the state of the economy to get worse over the next twelve months by 51% to 11%, and expect their own personal finances to get worse by 40% to 12%.

The budget itself seems to have gone down adequately. All the budget measures YouGov asked about recieved more support than opposition, with the most popular being giving extra money to the NHS (87% thought it was a good idea) and increasing the National Living Wage (82% a good idea). The least were extending the young persons railcard up to the age of 30 (45% a good idea) and setting aside money for Brexit plannong (48% good idea). Most of the changes were giveaways of some sort of course, without anything likely to cause a big political row – the most contentious issue after the budget seemed not to be the unpleasant things Hammond had done, but whether his Stamp Duty cut would actually have a negative impact and whether the changes to Univeral Credit were enough.

On those two issues, only 9% of respondents thought that the Universal Credit changes went far enough and addressed all the problems, 45% think there are still problems with the policy (7% thought no changes should have been made and 39% said don’t know). On Stamp Duty for first time buyers, only 30% thought this would help make housing more affordable, 45% thought it would make no real difference (and 10% thought it would make housing even less affordable).

Overall, 34% of people thought Hammond’s budget was fair, 23% unfair. YouGov ask that same question after every budget, and that answer is pretty so-so. Nothing to shout about, but not the sort of negative reaction that Osborne got in 2016 or 2012. Full tabs are here.


YouGov’s latest voting intention figures for the Times are CON 44%, LAB 25%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%. The nineteen point Conservative lead is the largest YouGov have given them in government, the 44% share of support the largest since the coalition’s honeymoon back in 2010.

The budget seems to have got a modest thumbs up. 32% think it was fair, 24% thought it was not – a fairly so-so rating compared to past budgets (YouGov ask the same question after every budget; the only times a budget has been seen as unfair were the Omnishambles budget in 2012 and George Osborne’s final budget in 2016).

On the individual measures, everything was approved of, with the most divisive policy being spending money on new free schools – 41% thought this was a good idea, 38% the wrong priority (interestingly that wasn’t just a partisan answer – a third of Tory voters also thought it was the wrong priority). Increasing NI contributions for the self-employed to the same level as employees was seen as a good idea by 47%, the wrong priority by 33%.

While people did approve of the NI rise, the majority of them did think it amounted to breaking a manifesto promise. 55% think the government have broken their pledge not to increase taxes, only 16% think they’ve kept it. Whether that really matters or not is a different question – the public tend to think all government break at least some of their promises anyway, so this may be seen as par for the course.

It’s crucial to note the timing of the poll: fieldwork was mostly conducted on Wednesday night with some during the day on Thursday. That means while it’s all post-budget, it’s very immediately post-budget. Most respondents will have answered the questions before the more hostile press coverage on Thursday morning, before the ongoing pressure and the government delaying the National Insurance rise. It may be that the unravelling of the budget on Thursday and Friday has lead to more negative perceptions – but we won’t be able to tell until the next round of polls.

Looking through the rest of the poll, the Conservatives & Theresa May have a lead over Labour & Jeremy Corbyn on almost every economic measure YouGov asked about (36 on cutting the deficit, 32 points on managing the economy, 15 on providing jobs, 11 on keeping prices down, 11 on improving living standards, 6 on getting people on the housing ladder), the only exception was reducing the number of people in poverty, where Corbyn & Labour had a 7 point lead.

Philip Hammond meanwhile is still very much an unknown quantity with the public. 25% think he’s doing a good job as Chancellor, 21% a bad job, 54% don’t know. In comparison, the government as a whole are getting the benefit of the doubt on the economy – 44% think they are handling it well, 38% badly.

Full tabs are here


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The Times have a new YouGov poll in tomorrow’s paper, conducted after Wednesday’s budget. It’s not good news for George Osborne.

Every budget has positive and negative parts, and it’s the same here: some parts of Osborne’s budget are popular, some aren’t. Increasing the personal allowance is popular (83% say its a good idea), as is cracking down on international tax avoidance (81%), freezing fuel duty (74%) and the sugar tax (62%). People are more divided over the increase to the higher rate threshold (46% say it’s good, but 37% the wrong priority), and are negative about the cut in corporation tax (32% good idea, 43% wrong priority). The worst ratings are for the cuts to disability benefits for people reliant on aids or appliances. Only 13% of people support the disability cuts, 70% think they are the wrong priority at the present time, including 59% of Tory voters.

Budgets are more than just the sum of their parts of course. After each budget YouGov ask the same question about whether people think the budget was fair or unfair, this year 28% thought the budget was fair, 38% unfair. Both of last year’s budgets were seen as more fair than unfair, so were the budgets of 2014 and 2013 (past figures are all here). You have to go all the way back to 2012 to find the last time an Osborne budget was seen as unfair… the omnishambles budget. That is not a good precedent.

Meanwhile voting intention stands at CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 16%. This is very much in line with the ICM poll earlier in the week that had Labour and Conservatives equal. People were understandably wary of reading too much into one poll, but we now have two polls both showing Labour and the Conservatives neck-and-neck, suggesting something is genuinely afoot.


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.


YouGov have their immediate post budget poll out tonight here, overall the budget was seen as fair by 43% of people, unfair by 33%. Compared to Osborne’s past budgets this is pretty so-so, the net rating is less positive than his last two budgets, but better than the mid-term budgets in the last Parliament. The rest of the poll asked about some of the individual measures in the budget:

  • The most popular are, predictably, the introduction of the National Living Wage and the increase in the personal tax allowance which both get overwhelming support.
  • After that limiting child tax credits to two children and lowering the benefit cap both get the support of two-thirds of respondents. There are some areas where government cuts to benefits are pushing up against public opposition, but with the benefit cap and limits on the number of children benefits are given for they still seem to have public opinion firmly on their side.
  • Meeting the 2% NATO target on defence spending and raising the inheritance tax threshold both get majority support. So, slightly to my surprise, did stopping housing benefit for under 21s (some previous polling had suggested opposition to this)
  • Moving the cost of television licences for over 75s to the BBC was supported by 49% of people (34% opposed), freezing working age benefits was supported by 46% (opposed by 36%) and cutting corporation tax was supported by 40% (opposed by 33%).
  • Only two of the measures YouGov asked about were opposed. Limiting public sector pay rises to 1% for the next four years was opposed by 51% of people. The abolition of student grants was opposed by 52% to 24%, the least popular of all the measures tested.

A so-so reception overall, though many of the individual measures were supported. A few important caveats – the first is that budgets are often a lot more or less than the sum of their parts. It is the overall impression a budget creates in people’s minds that matters, not an accounting exercise of “8 measures I like vs 2 measures I don’t like”. The second is that first impressions, while important, can sometimes be misleading. This poll was mostly taken on Wednesday evening and overnight, so most respondents will have answered it before seeing the newspapers’ reactions on Thursday morning and much of the response and debate about the budget on Thursday daytime (not least the IFS verdict on Thursday afternoon). YouGov will have some more in depth polling on the budget going out tonight and reporting tomorrow…