Public “not facing up to” spending squeeze

The public are unprepared for public service cuts, according to a new report. The public favours increases in business taxes and inheritance tax above all others.

The public are unprepared for public service cuts, according to a new report by the polling group Ipsos-MORI for the 2020 Public Services Trust. Protecting health and schools spending remain extremely popular while the public favours increases in business taxes and inheritance tax above all others.

A press release accompanying publication of the new report, ‘What do people want, need and expect from public services?’, outlined that “the public are either not facing up to, or are not aware of, the hard choices facing the country, with public borrowing due to hit around £170bn this year.” The report outlines that:

“The key priority for the public is ensuring that a good basic standard of services is available locally. Fairness is seen as important in delivering this, but this does not preclude greater help being available for those more in need. “

The report shows that:

• only 21 per cent believe that “too much money is spent on public services” compared to 48 per cent who disagree;

• 50 per cent do not think that “there is a real need to cut spending on public services in order to pay off the very high national debt we now have”; and

• 75 per cent believe “making public services more efficient can save enough money to help cut government spending, without damaging services the public receive”.

A slide show prepared by Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos-MORI, outlines that the public have a “strong belief in universal provision – and anxiety about postcode lotteries … [and] Like the idea of greater control and localism”. It goes on to outline that “Most will need more than a ‘nudge’ to go further on individual responsibility/co-production”, a reference to the Conservative party’s fascination with the governing philosophy of Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein.

When thinking about bringing “the nation’s debt under control”, the most popular tax rises are taxes on business (25 per cent) and inheritance tax (24 per cent). A significant 82 per cent of the public favour protecting the NHS and health care from public service cuts, 58 per cent want schools’ spending protected, and 46 per cent see protecting care for the elderly as a spending priority. In a blow for internationalists, only 5 per cent want overseas aid to be protected.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.