Who do voters trust on the economy?

The economy is the second most important issue for Britons today

Latest opinion polling from IPSO found the economy is the second most important issue facing Britain today, after inflation and prices, and that half of those surveyed expect the economic condition to get worse in the UK this year. 

With inflation remaining stagnant and still double the Bank of England’s target, the UK’s central bank has also warned it expects zero growth for 2024 with fears ONS figures on Thursday will show a recession.

But what do the public think when it comes to who to trust on the economy?

YouGov polling on which political party would be the best at handling the economy over the past four years has shown a rollercoaster shift in public opinion, with Liz Truss’s economic policies haunting the party’s legacy. 

The Conservative Party were at their peak level of economic trustworthiness in March 2020, when overall, 47% of those polled voted the Tories as best at handling the economy. This compared to 14% voting Labour and 26% who were unsure. 

From then on saw a steady to dramatic decline in economic trust levels for the Conservatives with Labour overtaking the Tories at the end of 2022.

By October 2022 – just after Truss and Kwateng’s disastrous mini-budget – 32% of people felt Labour was best placed with the economy compared to 15% for Conservatives. While 27% remained unsure.

Currently, Labour is polled top still with a quarter of voters seeing them as the best party to handle the economy,  equalled by those who are unsure, with the Tories not as far behind with 22%. The Lib Dems have remained with around 5% of the vote over the past four years. 

Among young people the gap is much greater, with 18-24 year olds currently three times more likely to trust Labour on the economy than the Tories. 

Trust among Conservative voters on whether their party is the best to handle the economy has dropped from 82% in February 2020 to nearly half that (47%) four years later.

Overall it seems Labour still have some convincing to do over their economic policies, based on the latest Ipso research from October 2023. Although ahead in the majority of key issues, the Tories had a narrow lead of 1% when it came to having the best policies on managing the economy. 

Although Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves was seen as the more capable Chancellor compared to Jeremy Hunt, leading by 41% to 29%. 

Liz Truss may have wrecked the Tories image as a ‘safe pair of hands’ when it comes to the economy, but it seems public economic pessimism and the cost-of-living crisis mean the population need more convincing on who to trust on the economy going forward.

(Image credit: HM Treasury / Creative Commons)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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