Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%. This is the first voting intention poll conducted wholly after the budget, though much of it was before this morning’s newspapers and the continuing media coverage we’ve had today (for the record, YouGov’s actual fieldwork times are from around about 5.30pm yesterday until around about 4pm this afternoon)

The eight point Labour lead equals the largest this year. It could be a budget knock for the Conservatives, though it is worth remembering that we also had another eight point lead earlier this week before the budget (in so much as it can be “before” a budget that had been so widely leaked), so it could be normal margin of error.

The YouGov poll has various other questions on the budget. The increase in the personal tax allowance is predictably popular, with 90% of people supporting the change. There are also solid majorities in favour of the cut in corporation tax, allowing shops to open on Sundays during the Olympics and the increaase in stamp duty on homes worth more than £2million.

Turning to the more controversial measures, 55% of people opposed the decision to cut the 50p tax rate to 45p, with 32% in support. The opposition to this measure is less strong than most of the pre-budget polling on the question – the difference is largely because polls before the budget tended to show Conservative voters opposed to the abolition of the 50p tax rate. The post-budget poll shows 60% of Tory voters in favour. Part of this might be because people are happier with a 45p compromise than abolishing the band completely, but a lot is probably Conservative supporters being more supportive of a policy when the Conservatives actually do it.

Where they haven’t done that is the least popular part of the budget, which predictably is the “granny tax”. Only 18% of people support increasing taxes paid by pensioners by phasing out the age-related tax allowance, with 64% opposed. This includes 57% of the Conservative party’s own voters and, as one might expect, 79% of people over the age of 60.

Overall just under a third of people (32%) think the budget is fair, compared to 48% who think it is unfair. To put this in context, YouGov asked the same question after last year’s budget and found 44% thought that budget was fair.

The survey also asked people whether they thought different income groups would end up paying more or less in tax as a result of the budget. 46% thought poorer people would pay less in tax, and 56% thought that the richest people in Britain will end up paying less tax. In contrast, 40% think people on average incomes will end up paying more, compared to just 23% who think they will gain and asked about “people like themselves” 21% of people think’ll end up paying less tax, 37% think they’ll end up paying more.

All this suggests the budget has not gone down well. What remains to be seen now is whether there is any real knock to voting intention once we’ve got some more polls to judge by (as ever, one should never put too much weight on one poll) and, if so, whether it lasts once the immediate negative coverage of the budget fades.

Tomorrow’s budget

A version of this post also appears on the YouGov website here

Ahead of the budget tomorrow here’s a round up of the various questions that YouGov have asked about the budget in recent weeks, mostly in the YouGov/Sunday Times polls.

The budget comes under a background of deep public pessimism about the state of the economy. Only 4% of British people think the economy is in a good state, compared to 75% who think it is in a bad condition. Only 10% expect their financial position to get better over the next year. The government’s cuts are unpopular, are still seem as unfair by 60% of people, too deep by 45%, too fast by 50% and bad for the economy by 49%. However, the public have largely accepted the government’s argument that they are necessary (55% agree) and that they are largely the fault of the last Labour government (63% blame the last Labour government compared to 51% for the current government, including 27% who blame both).

The coalition are still trusted more than Labour on the economy by 32% to 26%, and the public are fairly evenly split on the government’s economic strategy. 38% think they should stick to their present strategy of prioritising deficit reduction, even if this means growth is low. 34% would prefer them to prioritise growth, even if this means the deficit stays longer or gets worse.

If George Osborne has money to spend in the budget though, the public would like his first priorities to be cutting living costs for those struggling (31%) and cutting taxes for those struggling (21%).

50p tax rate and taxing the wealthy
YouGov’s polling has consistently shown widespread opposition to the abolition of the 50p rate, with only 27% supporting the abolition of the 50p tax rate.
Support for the 50p rate would not be much diminished even if it was shown that it was not raising much money, one of the arguments that has been made for its abolition. Asked what should happen if it was shown the tax was not raising extra money, 41% of people would support its abolition, but 40% would still want to retain it anyway for moral reasons.

One idea that has been suggested is to replace the 50p tax rate with an alternative tax on the wealthy, with a common suggestion being a mansion tax. Our polls have shown that a mansion tax on property worth more than £2million is popular in its own right – supported by 75% of respondents including 68% of Conservative voters. While the 50p tax rate was seen as both a fairer and a more effective way of getting wealthy people to pay more in taxation, people were evenly split on the idea of replacing the 50p tax rate with a mansion tax – 34% would support the replacement, 37% would oppose it.

Another suggestion has been to remove higher rate tax relief on pension contributions. YouGov’s polls suggest a broadly even split on this, with 38% of people supporting the abolition, 37% opposing it.

Personal tax allowance
There is wide public support for an increase in the personal tax allowance to £10,000. 90% of respondents would support an increase in the allowance to £10,000.

Polls on tax, however, will almost always find support for a cut if the question doesn’t ask them to balance the cut against how it might be paid for. In this case though there is still majority support for an increase to £10,000 or more if respondents are prompted to consider the need to balance an increase in the personal tax allowance with tax hikes, spending cuts or more borrowing – 54% would still support an increase in the personal tax allowance to £10,000 or more.

Fuel duty
A cut in fuel duty remains overwhelming popular. 77% of respondents would support a decrease in the level of fuel duty on petrol and diesel, 16% think it should be kept the same with only 4% supporting a rise. Asked to pick priorities for tax cuts, a reduction in fuel duty came top on 34%, making it more popular than an increase in personal tax allowance (31%) or a cut in VAT (23%).

Asked to balance the need to cut the deficit against their support for lower fuel taxes, 59% of people think it is more important to cut fuel taxes than it is to cut the deficit, compared to 20% who think that the state of the economy means it is more important to reduce the size of the deficit.

Child benefit
There have been some suggestions that George Osborne will take measures to soften the planned withdrawal of child benefit from households with a higher rate taxpayer. Our polling shows 61% support the existing plans to withdraw child benefit, compared to 27% who oppose the move. However, there is a widespread perception that the proposed arrangements, whereby a family with a single higher rate taxpayer could lose the benefit despite earning less than a family with two basic rate taxpayers that would keep the benefit. Only 24% of respondents think this is fair.

YouGov/Sunday Times(17th Feb)
YouGov/Sun on Sunday (24th Feb)
YouGov/Sunday Times(26th Feb)
YouGov/Sunday Times (2nd Mar)
YouGov/Sunday Times(9th Mar)
YouGov/Sunday Times(16th Mar)
YouGov/Sun (19th March)


Full results for YouGov’s weekly Sunday Times poll are now up here, mostly concentrating on next week’s budget and Britain’s relationship with the USA. On the regular leadership trackers David Cameron’s approval rating is at minus 5 (up from minus 9 last week), Miliband’s at minus 45 (from minus 38), Clegg’s at minus 46 (from minus 44).

Looking at the budget questions, even when we prompt people to consider that rises in the personal tax allowance need to be paid for through tax increases, cuts or borrowing elsewhere there is still strong support for it. Only 18% think it should remain at the current level, 16% would support an increase to £9000, 34% to the Liberal Democrat’s proposed £10,000 and 20% higher than that.

On the 50p income tax rate, only 27% support it being abolished in this budget with 60% opposed. Amongst Conservative supporters the split is very even, 45% support, 46% oppose. Labour and Liberal Democrat voters are heavily against. Opposition for it being abolished is not much less to a pledge to abolish it in a later budget – 52% would oppose this, with 29% in support.

Unsurprisingly the overwhelming majority of people (77%) would support a decrease in the level of fuel duty. There is still a substantial majority in favour when YouGov asked people to balance the competing priorities of cutting the deficit or cutting fuel duty – 59% think it is more important to cut fuel duty compared to 20% who think it is more important to cut the deficit. Opinion on the higher rate of tax relief on pension contributions (even split) and the abolition of child benefit for higher rate taxpayers (majority support) remain the same.

Turning to the USA and the special relationship, 54% think the relationship between the US & UK is very or fairly close. 20% think it should be closer, 21% weaker and 49% think it is about right. Perceptions are now that the relationship has got a little closer since David Cameron became Prime Minister – 26% think it has got closer, 13% less close and 54% no difference. This is significantly better than when YouGov asked the same question in 2010, when the figures were 15% and 20% respectively.

People still, however, don’t think we have much influence over the USA – only 11% think we have a lot or some influence, 44% think we have not a lot of influence, 39% think we have no influence at all, not much changed from 2010. On the specifics of David Cameron’s trip to the USA, 28% think the reception was over the top, but 46% think it got the balance about right.

The tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here, with the usual range of issues: amongst others the budget, gay marriage, Prince Harry and Afghanistan.

As the overall voting intention figures seem to be heading back to the sort of position we were seeing last year, with Labour enjoying a 4 or 5 point lead, so do Ed Miliband’s ratings. His net approval rating is up to minus 38 (from minus 44 last week). These are Miliband’s most positive (or perhaps more accuately, least negative) ratings since they slumped at the beginning of January. David Cameron’s approval meanwhile stands at minus 9 (from minus 6 last week), Nick Clegg’s at minus 44 (from minus 47).

Turning to the budget questions, 73% of people support the Lib Dem idea of increasing the tax allowance through the adoption of a mansion tax. On the trade off between a 50p tax rate and a mansion tax, while people are more likely to see the 50p tax rate as both fairer than a mansion tax and more effective than a mansion tax, they are very evenly split on the idea of replacing the 50p rate with a mansion tax (34% would support it, 37% would oppose it). Asked what their view would be if the 50p tax rate didn’t actually raise any extra money, 41% would abolish it, 40% would keep it anyway, suggesting that a fair amount of people support higher taxes on the rich regardless of whether or not it actually brings in money.

On abolishing higher rate tax relief on pension contributions YouGov asked a more detailed version of the question that a fortnight ago, actually explaining what higher rate tax relief was. The answers, however, were very similar to what we got with a simpler question: a pretty even split. 38% think higher rate tax relief on pensions should be scrapped, 39% think it should be kept.

Turning to the questions on gay marriage, 43% of people support gay marriage, 32% support civil partnerships but not gay marriage, 15% are opposed to both. Attitudes to the church’s stance pretty much mirror this – 47% think they are right to oppose gay marriage, 37% think they are wrong. More generally, 62% of people think same-sex relationships are as valid as heterosexual ones, 27% do not.
The percentage of people supporting gay marriage here is, incidentally, very similar to that in ICM’s poll today in the Sunday Telegraph which found 45% in favour of gay marriage and 36% opposed.

Finally, on the issue of Afghanistan 40% of people think troops should be withdrawn now. YouGov have asked this question every fortnight since the election, and this is the highest level of support for immediate withdrawal we’ve seen (typically it is around 30%) – it would seem likely that the increase is due to the coverage of the death of six British soldiers this week.

UPDATE: Here is Peter Kellner’s take on the gay marriage questions.

Full tabs for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here.

On the regular leader ratings all three are up: David Cameron stands at minus 1 (up from minus 3 a week ago), Nick Clegg at minus 38 (up from minus 50) and Ed Miliband at minus 48 (up from minus 53).

74% of people now expect Britain to go back into recession in the next 12 months. This isn’t actually much changed from before the recent negative growth figures (it was 72% when last asked in November), but that’s probably to be expected that people already expected a second recession anyway (not to mention that most people don’t pay much attention to economic figures!)

On the cuts, 42% think the government should reduce the scale of the cuts, 45% think they are right as they are (33%) or should be bigger (12%). On taxes 47% would like to see taxes cut more to encourage growth, 11% think taxes should be increased to reduce the deficit, 30% think the present balance is about right.

Exploring taxes a bit more we see the usual pattern – people support tax cuts, but support tax hikes for people significantly richer than they are. Hence 83% support increasing the personal allowance to £10,000, but 65% support a “mansion tax” on houses worth £2 million or more. Interesting support for a mansion tax does drop somewhat if the threshhold comes down to £1 million, bringing support down to 50% and to under half in London and the South-East. On the 50p tax rate, there is high support for keeping the tax rate (by 68% to 19%, up from last year), but much less support for expanding it. People are pretty evenly split on bringing down the threshhold to £100,000, with 39% in support and 42% opposed.

Moving onto the benefits cap, 72% of people support the principle of a benefits cap and, of those who support it, 33% support the proposed £26,000 cap, 52% support a lower cap, 9% a higher cap. 24% support the House of Lords amendment excluding child benefit from the cap, with 58% opposed.

Finally there were a series of questions on honesty: 65% of people think that people have become less honest in the last decade. Asked about various professions, people overwhelmingly think it is likely they would lie – over 90% think it is likely that politicians, celebrities and business leaders would lie. 77% think lawyers are likely to lie. Only in the case of doctors do a majority (68%) think it is unlikely they would lie. Asked if it is acceptable for figures in public office to lie, 70% think it is never acceptable on matters of public interest, but they are more understanding when it comes to their personal lives, where 57% think it is sometimes acceptable for them to lie.