Full tabs for this week’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll are here, covering the Euro crisis, public sector pensions and the protests outside St Paul’s (along with some stuff about cricket which I won’t parade my ignorance by writing about!)

18% of people think the Eurozone should try to keep Greece in the Eurozone, 59% think they should not, largely unchanged from a week ago. An overwhelming majority of people (80%) think that it is important for Britain’s economy that the problems in the Eurozone are solved, and by 39% to 18% people think it would be bad for Britain if the single currency collapsed. However, a majority (55%) of people continue to think that Britain should not be financially involved in any bailout.

Moving onto public sector pensions, people think it is right that public sector workers should contribute more of their salaries towards their pensions by 51% to 35%, support linking pensions to average salary rather than final salary by 49% to 30%. They are, however, evenly split over whether public sector workers should have to work until they are older to recieve their pension – 44% think it is right, 45% wrong. These questions were a repeat of a poll back at the beginning of July, and show no real significant change.

Asked about the changes the government proposed to the pension scheme last week (keeping existing retirement dates for those within 10 years of retirement, building up pension entitlements quicker… but still requiring public sector workers to contribute more to their pensions), 16% of people thought they were too generous, 17% thought they didn’t go far enough, 42% thought they seemed like a reasonable compromise.

On the strike action at the end of the month, 31% of people said they supported public sector workers taking strike action over their pensions, 53% were opposed. This is a slight shift against the strikes since YouGov last asked the same question in September, when 38% of people supported it and 49% were opposed.

Moving onto the Occupy London protests outside St Paul’s, YouGov asked a general question over whether people supported or opposed the protest outside the Cathedral. 20% of people said they supported it, 46% were opposed, 33% said neither or don’t know (note the contrast with the question a week ago that found 39% of people saying they supported the aims of the protesters, suggesting there are significant numbers of people with sympathy towards the protesters aims but don’t support them protesting outside the Cathedral). 44% of people said that legal action should be taken to remove them, 38% said it should not.

The news agenda has rather moved on from the strikes now, and is dominated by News International’s travails – however, I expect we’ll have to wait until the weekend to get any substantive polling on that (though I believe there is some Survation stuff tonight, which I’ll include in my 10 o’clock post. In the meantime, there are a couple of YouGov polls from earlier in the week looking back at the strikes.

Firstly on Monday YouGov repeated the questions on the strike and pensions that were originally asked a week ago, to see if the actual strike had changed views. In terms of support or opposition to the strike there was no substantive difference. Last week people opposed the teachers’ strike by 49% to 40%, this week people opposed it by 50% to 41%. There was a similar lack of movement on opposition to the civil servants strike.

On the subject of pensions though, people were marginally more *supportive* of the government’s pension proposals. Last week 37% said they supported them, this week it was 41% . Normal caveats apply about small movements not necessarily being significant, but certainly the argument does not appear to be moving against the government.

On a different measure, the strike action does appear to be keeping pensions firmly near the top of the political agenda. It remains third on the list of what people consider the most important issues facing the country and second on what people think are the most important issues facing their families (both percentages up since last month).

Will post again later tonight with today’s YouGov VI and the Survation figures on hacking.


ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has been released here. Topline figures with changes from May are CON 37%(+1), LAB 39%(+2), LDEM 12%(-3), Others 12%(+1).

The Lib Dem score is the lowest ICM have recorded for 14 years according to the Guardian, though of course, it would be a comparatively good score for the Lib Dems were it from Populus, MORI or (especially) YouGov. ICM have, for reasons which are not obvious, tended to show a higher Lib Dem score than other companies, even Populus who have very similar methods.

ICM also asked leadership approval ratings. David Cameron’s stand at minus 5, Nick Clegg’s at minus 20 and Ed Miliband’s at minus 21. According to the Guardian his ratings are lower than Hague and Howard scored as opposition leader in ICM polls, and on a par with the doomed IDS. This follows recent polls by ComRes and YouGov which have also shown increasingly bad ratings for Miliband, though is the first one to show him with worse ratings than Clegg.

ICM also asked about the reforms to public sector pensions and found 49% in support and 41% opposed, so slightly more in favour than against, compared to the YouGov/Sunday Times findings at the weekend which were marginally against. The difference will probably be down to the question itself, since it takes quite a lot of text to explain the actual proposals, but either way the public are pretty evenly divided.

YouGov’s voting intention figures for the Sunday Times this morning are CON 37%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%, so pretty much stable. On the regular trackers, leader approvals are Cameron minus 4 (from minus 6 a week ago), Clegg minus 46 (from minus 49 a week ago), and Miliband minus 32% (down from minus 23 a week ago, and easily his worst ratings so far).

There is also negative news for Ed Balls on the question of who would make the better Chancellor. YouGov first asked the question straight after Balls’ appointment, and found him neck and neck with George Osborne, 27% a piece. Osborne now leads Balls by 29% to 22% (48% of people said they don’t know). The poll would have been only just after Balls’ speech calling for a VAT cut… but I wouldn’t necessarily expect most people to notice a speech by the shadow chancellor anyway, such is the nature of opposition. More generally YouGov asked whether or not the last Labour government spent money wisely – 27% thought it did, 56% that it did not.

On the subject of the economy, 55% of people said they thought the worst was still to come for the financial crisis and the effect on the economy, with only 22% disagreeing. 37% of people think the government is managing the economy well, 53% badly (slightly up from last week, when it was 35% well, 58% badly). Overall the “feel good factor” stands at minus 48, with 10% expecting things to get better for them over the next 12 months, 58% to get worse.

Most interestingly though we have some questions on the public sector strikes and pensions (though sadly not any direct questions on whether people would support or oppose strike action on cuts, or by teachers. I’m sure some will turn up soon!).

In terms of strikes, a majority of people continue to think teachers should have the right to strike, but don’t think doctors or the police should. On the whole people do have sympathy with the idea that there should be a turnout on strike ballots – only 24% think a strike should be allowed on a simple majority, 7% that there should be a relatively lax 25 percent turnout threshold, 24% a fifty percent turnout threshold, 24% an exacting seventy-five percent threshhold. 11% simply disagree with the right to strike altogether.

Turning specifically to the issue of public sector pensions, 38% of people think that public sector pensions are too generous, 14% not generous enough, 25% about right. This means people are evenly split between thinking public sector pensions are too generous, or about right/not enough, and indeed when people are asked if they support the recommendations in the Hutton report there is a broadly even split, with only slightly more opposing than supporting – 38% support them, 43% oppose.

The YouGov tables also have cross-breaks by public/private sector workers and by whether people are trade union members. These are interesting in themselves. To start with the caveat, these are cross-breaks, the poll is weighted to be representative overall, not necessarily of trade unionists or public sector workers – it can only be indictative of those sub-groups. That out of the way, Trade Union members are, as one might expect, overwhelmingly Labour supporters – Con 15%, Lab 68%, LD 4%. Public sector workers are also more Labour than people in the private sector, but the contrast is not as large as think some people imagine – Labour lead by 11 points amongst public sector workers, compared to 2 points amongst private sector workers.

Turning to the pension questions, public sector workers are unsurprisingly less likely to think that public sector pensions are too generous (though 18% do!), and only 21% support the Hutton Report’s recommendations, with 66% opposed. Amongst private sector workers 46% support Hutton’s recommendations, 33% are opposed. It’s worth remembering that people’s opinions are not entirely selfish. While clearly self-interested, there are people who support policies that may be detrimental to their own interests, and people who oppose policies even though they personally benefit from them.

Pensions Reform

The Turner Report into the future of pensions has now been published – the main recommendations, as expected, are that the pensionable age should gradually increase over the next 45 years (though to 68, not 67 as reported in the press), the state pension should be residence based and linked to increases in average earnings, and there should be a national pensions saving scheme (NPSS) that everyone should be automatically enrolled in unless they opt-out, contributed to by both employees and employers.

How popular are these recommendations likely to be? YouGov carried out a detailed poll, published earlier this week, looking at the future of pensions.

The first thing to note is that there is a very widespread acceptance that there is a problem – only 4% of people think there is not a pension crisis, and 69% think there is a serious crisis in pension provision. 87% of people think that ‘most’ people are not saving enough for their retirements, and 65% of people think that they personally are not saving enough for their old age.

Recognising that there is a problem with pensions does not, of course, equate to automatically supporting any and all proposals to deal with it. YouGov went on to ask a question that stated there there were only a limited number of ways of dealing with the future of pensions, and asking people which they would prefer – the options offered were making or encouraging people save more themselves, taxing people more, raising the retirement age, increasing immigration or simply letting people’s retirement incomes fall. Far and away the most popular solution was making or encouraging people to save more – chosen by 49% of people, following by increasing taxes – 18%. YouGov went on to ask which of the options people would find acceptable, and which would be their least favoured option – the only option acceptable to a majority of people was making or encouraging people to save more (supported by 69%). Increased taxes would be accepted by 39%, while raising the retirement age would be acceptable to only 33%. Reducing pensioners’ income was acceptable to only 5% of people, while increasing immigration was acceptable to only 13% – it was also the least popular option overall, named as such by 33% of people. YouGov also asked a more specific question on tax – only 9% of people said they would be willing to pay a lot more in tax if they thought hte money really would increase pensions, and only 39% would be willing to pay a little more. 45% said they wouldn’t be willing to pay any more tax at all, even if it would increase pensions.

So, if the public generally support more saving, and oppose a later retirement age, what are they likely to think of the specific proposals in the Turner Report? Pretty much as you’d expect: YouGov asked if people would support increasing the pension age to 67 (which, at the time, was expected to be Turner’s recommendation) – 39% said they would be in favour, 47% said they would be opposed.

Asked if employers should be compelled to contribute to a pension for their employees, 82% said they should, with only 25% opposed. Compulsory contributions by employers are generally criticised for adding extra labour costs to businesses, and therefore leading to job cuts or lower wages, YouGov therefore went on to ask if people would still support such a proposals if it lead to employers “either having to reduce pay levels, or cut the size of their workforce, or both”. While this obviously reduced the level of support, a majority – 54% – still supported proposals to force employers to contribute.

YouGov also asked respondents under the age of 60 how they personally would respond to an opt-out pension scheme like that subsequently recommended by Turner. 56% of people said they would remain in the scheme, while the overwhelming majority of those who said they would opt out said they would make alternate arrangements. Only 3% of people said they would opt out and not join a pension scheme.

YouGov’s findings therefore suggest that most people think more savings are the answer to the pension crisis, and that the majority of people would remain in an opt-out pension scheme – althought it remains to be seen how they react to the specific sort of contribution levels suggested by the Turner Report. On the other hand, there is far less support for increasing the pensionable age or increasing taxes.

YouGov also asked a series of questions about public sector pensions – 74% of people thought that public sector pensioners got a better deal than those who worked in the private sector and 60% of those thought they did not deserve this (predictably there was a huge difference between public and private sector workers on this question – 55% of public sector workers thought that, yes, they did deserve better pensions than the private sector). Asked about the government’s proposals for the future of public sector pensions, the most popular option was the government’s original plan to gradually increase the retirement age of public sector workers under 50 to 65, supported by 39% of respondents. 32% of respondents opted for the compromise agreed with the trade unions – that current workers should retire at 60, but future workers at 65. Amongst public sector workers themselves the most popular option was the compromise position, supported by 40% of public sector workers.