Today's ICM poll for the Guardian appears to show that the public are open to tax rises as well as public spending cuts. The findings appear to undermine a Sunday Times report from September 13th that, "Voters are overwhelmingly in favour of cutting public spending rather than tax rises to close the budget black hole."
Beyond the headlines, today’s ICM poll for the Guardian appears to show that the public are open to tax rises as well as public spending cuts. The Guardian reports that:
“Today’s poll also shows the public are split about the best response to the budget deficit. Asked whether they would rather pay more tax, or see cuts in services, including ones they use, 45% pick tax and 47% service cuts.”
On September 13th, the Sunday Times set out that, “Voters are overwhelmingly in favour of cutting public spending rather than tax rises to close the budget black hole.” The YouGov poll showed 60 per cent support for spending cuts versus 21 per cent support for tax increases.
But Left Foot Forward pointed out that an earlier poll by Populus for the Times revealed that 60 per cent of voters favoured tax increases to help close the budget deficit. This broke down into 11 per cent who wanted just tax increases and no cuts in public spending, a further 11 per cent who favoured greater emphasis on tax increases but some cuts, and 38 per cent who called for an equal split between tax increases and public spending.
Left Foot Forward will update later when we have the underlying data.
UPDATE: YouGov President, Peter Kellner, tells Left Foot Forward:
“The differences in the two questions is crucial. ICM talks about ‘the services you use.’ Ours doesn’t. We have found in the past that most people think public spending can be cut significantly without harming the quality of front-line services. Both main parties claim that they intend to achieve this.
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“The ICM question assumes that this endeavour will fail, and that front-line services will be hurt. They might be right, and they might be wrong. Taking the two polls together, we can make the following predictions:
- If taxes are raised, and spending either not cut, or not cut much, this will prove unpopular, as many voters will believe they are being made to pay for continued inefficiency in public services
- If spending is cut, and front-line services maintained, this will be popular
- If spending is cut and, and front-line services suffer, this will still be popular with some (mainly families who don’t use public services much, such as the NHS and state schools), but unpopular with others.”