More people prefer higher spending to deeper cuts

The public appear reluctant to embrace George Osborne's plan for even deeper cuts.

The public appear reluctant to embrace George Osborne’s plan for even deeper cuts

Three times as many people would prefer higher taxation to deeper public service cuts, according to new research.

According to polling by YouGov for the Times Red Box, 42 per cent of the public favour giving public services more money and investment even if it means higher taxes.

This contrasts with just 14 per cent who wish to prioritise reducing taxation even if it results in public services having less money.

Almost a third (32 per cent) of those questioned favour keeping the levels of tax and money spent on public services about the same.

Yougov

Meanwhile according to another poll from the same data set, a slim majority favour investing more money in public services over further cuts even if it means the government borrowing more and building up more debt.

32 per cent of those questioned say the government should spend more on public services if it means a higher level of government debt, while 24 per cent say they want to reduce the amount the government borrows even if it deprives public services of money.

29 per cent want to keep the amount of money spent on public services about the same.

Yougov2

While the findings may on the surface cheer the left, the data is in fact open to varying interpretations.

For while according to the first poll 42 per cent favour higher public spending financed by tax rises, 46 per cent want spending kept at the same level or reduced.

Similarly with the second poll, while a third say they want to borrow to spend more on public services, over half (53 per cent) want spending to stay as it is or for there to be further cuts in order to reduce Britain’s debt.

Because the government is already engaged in a tough programme of cuts, both polls could be interpreted as a sign of the public favouring austerity.

And yet Labour can probably take more heart from the polling than the Conservatives. A large majority of those questioned in both polls are against a level of cuts greater than those currently being pushed through by the coalition, and more people favour higher public spending when set against deeper cuts in the next parliament.

In other words, a majority are in favour of the current austerity programme but an even larger majority are against further cuts if it means the erosion of public services.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twittter

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