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.

While we won’t have any post-budget voting intentions yet, there is a snap online Populus poll for Which, conducted straight after the budget, results are here.

On the details of the budget, 92% supported the rise in the personal allowance, 77% the increase in stamp duty, 68% the increase in tobacco duty, 64% the change in the threshhold for the withdrawal of child benefit and 51% not changing fuel duty. In contrast, 46% of people opposed the reduction of the 50p tax rate to 45p, with only 34% in support. The freezing and gradual abolition of the age related personal tax allowance, which looks as though it may end up being the most controversial part of the budget, was not asked about.

In the past, however, we’ve seen budgets where people liked all the individual parts but still disapproved of the whole. Asked about the budget overall, 46% say it was good for the country, 20% bad for the country; 39% said it was good for them and their family, 19% think it was bad. There were more mixed findings when Populus asked if the budget made people more or less confident. People said it made them more confident about the economy overall by 33% to 25%, however they were more negative about its effect on their own personal spending. On confidence in spending on everyday essentials 31% were less confident, 18% more confident and on paying for big ticket outcomes 27% were less confident and 8% more confident.

Bear in mind, however, that initial responses to the budget sometimes don’t reflect the longer term view – these answers will in many cases be the first people had seen of the budget, or have been answered before people saw the media analysis and reporting of the budget, which may well change opinions.

Meanwhile tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figurs of CON 36%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10% – back to the sort of five point lead we were seeing last week. Note that the fieldwork for today’s YouGov poll was overwhelmingly done before the budget, so you won’t see any budget effect yet. For any budget impact on voting intention you’ll need to wait until tomorrow or the weekend.


Two new polls tonight, showing contrasting pictures. I already mentioned Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor in passing earlier on, but for the record their topline figures are CON 36%(+1), LAB 37%(-4), LDEM 11%(-1), Others 16%(+4). Like ICM’s poll earlier in the week they have Labour’s lead dropping, though unlike ICM (which had a boost for the Tories at the expense of others), MORI have the smaller parties increasing at the expense of Labour.

Meanwhile YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 43%, LD 9%. An eight point lead for Labour is the highest YouGov have shown since the start of December, before David Cameron’s veto, so there is certainly no sign of a narrowing of the Labour lead there. If anything it’s the opposite, though I will add my normal caveat about not getting too excited about individual polls. Sure, it might be the start of bigger Labour leads, or we might be back to smaller Labour leads tomorrow. Watch the underlying trends, rather than getting excited about individual polls.

Nevertheless, it’s interesting that we’ve seen ICM and MORI both showing Labour falling relative to the Conservatives (albeit, the actual shifts in the two polls were different) while the YouGov daily polls are still showing solid Labour leads. While pollsters may have different house effects, they are all polling the same population at the end of the day so normally show the same trends.

It is possible for them to diverge (for example, YouGov don’t weight by likelihood to vote, so wouldn’t pick up a trend that was solely turnout based) it would be unusual though. I’d still expect them to settle down into a clear trend over the next few weeks.

Tomorrow is budget day – for those who missed it earlier on, my pre-budget summary of YouGov’s recent budget polling is here.

YouGov has published its latest London voting intentions here. For the last few months YouGov have shown Boris and Ken effectively neck-and-neck, these latest figures have Boris opening up a lead.

On first preferences Boris is at 49%, Ken at 41%, Brian Paddick 5% and others 4%. When respondents are asked which of the leading two candidates they would prefer in a forced choice, Boris leads Ken by 54% to 46%.

The last polls were conducted when Ken was making most of the running with pledges on transport fares, and Boris’s campaign could have been kindly described as “masterful inactivity”. Since then Boris launched his own slate of pledges and Ken has faced a rather troubled month of accusations about his personal tax affairs, perhaps explaining the apparent shift towards Boris.

Looking at the other questions there have been some significant drops in perceptions of Ken Livingstone. The proportion of people who think he sticks to what he believes in has dropped to 34% (down 6 points) and the proportion who see him as in touch with ordinary people is down to 32% (down 5 points).

There has also been a shift in how the public perceive the respective records of the two main candidates. Last month 40% of people thought Ken had acheived more than Boris during his time as mayor with 31% thinking Boris had the better record. Boris has now closed that gap, with 36% thinking he has achieved more, compared to Ken’s 34%.

Ultimately though, Ken’s problem remains that he cannot convert Labour’s national support in London into support for him. In London’s Westminster voting intentions Labour have a 12 point lead over the Conservatives, CON 34%, LAB 46%, LDEM 9%. However, only 69% of those Londoners who say they’d vote Labour in a general election say they’d vote for Ken for mayor (10% would vote for Boris, 3% for Paddick, 3% for others, 4% wouldn’t vote and 11% don’t know). In comparison 86% of London Tory voters say they will vote for Boris.

There is also an Ipsos MORI London poll out today for the BBC. BBC producer guidelines essentially prevent them from ever commissioning voting intention questions, so there is a rather obvious gap on that front, but they do have some questions on perceptions of the candidates on issues and qualities. Boris has small leads on crime, the environment and (surprisingly, given other polling has shown Ken ahead) on transport. Ken has a substantial lead on Housing.

On personal qualities Boris has leads on being likeable, being an ambassador for London and getting the best deal for London from the government. Ken leads on grasp of detail, understanding ordinary Londoners and being good in a crisis. The two main candidates are neck-and-neck on making the best use of public money and being trustworthy.

UPDATE: Ipsos MORI have also released their monthly political monitor here. Topline figures are CON 36%(+1), LAB 37%(-4), LDEM 11%(-1), Others 16%(+4).

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)