Public turned off “age of austerity”

A poll shows voters think shielding services is more important than reducing the deficit. The findings are a blow to the Conservative's "age of austerity" message.

A PoliticsHome poll has found that British voters think that shielding services is more important than reducing the budget deficit. The findings will be seen as a further blow to the Conservative party’s economic message about the “age of austerity“.

Politics Home interviewed 1,082 voters over the weekend who were “asked to say whether their greater worry about the next government was that it would cut public spending too deeply, or that it would fail to reduce the budget deficit quickly enough.” The website found:

“Forty per cent of people were more concerned that state services would be cut back too deeply. Meanwhile, only twenty five per cent said that their greater fear was that the deficit would not be tackled with sufficient speed.”

Floating voters were particularly sceptical about prioritising paying back the deficit quickly. According to Politics Home:

“Only sixteen per cent were more worried that debt reduction would be too slow. Meanwhile, more than double – thirty six per cent – are more concerned about the effect of a spending squeeze on public services.”

The finding corroborates polling by Ipsos-MORI last year which found that the public disagree by 48 per cent to 21 per cent that too much is spent on public services. Ipsos-MORI’s CEO Ben Page told Left Foot Forward last year:

“The public are not convinced that there will need to be massive cuts in front line services in order to balance the books. In fact, 50 per cent deny that the debt situation needs addressing in that way.”

Other surveys covered by Left Foot Forward show that, when pushed on bringing down the deficit, the public is split on tax rises versus spending cuts while another poll showed that 60 per cent favour tax increases to help close the budget deficit.

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s PPC for Leeds West and a leading left-wing economist, told Left Foot Forward:

“People want more than an age of austerity. We are one of the richest countries in the world with fantastic people and businesses. The age of austerity that Cameron and Osborne prescribe once again seeks to talk Britain down. It’s not surprising that voters are turned off.”

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