Pollster Find Out Now and election experts Electoral Calculus have run a poll asking people about the government's fiscal policy, and possible tax rises and spending cuts.
The poll asked GB residents questions about whether and how the government should balance its books. We also asked, assuming there had to be some spending cuts, where the public would like the cuts to fall.
Our first question asked people if they agreed or disagreed that the government needs to balance its books a bit better.
A clear majority agreed with the statement. Those who voted Conservative in 2019 agreed particularly strongly, but most Labour voters did too.
|Response||All voters||CON voters||LAB voters|
Table data excludes those who refused to answer
We then asked people how this should be done. We gave them three options: mostly by cuts, mostly by tax rises, or a combination of the two.
More people chose the combination than any other option. A majority of people (58%) wanted some spending cuts in the package, though a small majority (51%) wanted tax cuts in the package as well. Labour voters were keener on a tax-only strategy which avoids spending cuts.
|Responses||All voters||CON voters||LAB voters|
|Mostly by cuts to government spending||20%||23%||14%|
|A combination of spending cuts and tax rises||38%||52%||33%|
|Mostly by tax rises||13%||6%||28%|
Table data excludes those who refused to answer
Finally, we asked people about where they thought spending cuts should fall. We asked about the five areas which have the highest government spending: health, pensions, welfare, education and defence. For each area, we asked people (if cuts have to be made) how much spending should be cut on that area compared with the average level of cuts.
The chart shows how people answered:
Health stands out as the public's priority, with over half of respondents saying cuts to health spending should be smaller than the average level of cuts. There was also fairly strong support for spending on pensions. Education is a middling priority with people fairly evenly divided between protecting it and cutting it. For welfare benefits and defence, there were more people asking for average (or higher) cuts than wanted below-average cuts. On welfare, 43pc of people prefer average or above-average cuts, while only 29pc prefer below-average cuts. On defence, there are 48pc for average or higher cuts, with 24pc wanting small cuts.
This data can also be seen as a table.
|Spending area||Much smaller|
|About average||Larger |
|Don't know||Net appetite for cuts|
Table data excludes those who refused to answer. "Net appetite for cuts" is defined as the net support for average or above-average cuts, less the net support for below-average cuts.
We can also see how opinions differ based on how people voted in the 2019 general election. The chart shows "Net appetite for cuts" by spending area and broken down by party preference in 2019. Conservative voters are keener to cut welfare and education, but are less keen to cut defence and pensions. Labour voters are less keen on cuts overall, but are in favour of defence cuts particularly.
The tabular form of this chart is also shown below.
|Spending area||All voters||CON voters||LAB voters|
Table shows "net appetite" for spending cuts, defined as the net support for average or above-average cuts, less the net support for below-average cuts. Table excludes those who refused to answer. Party allegiance is based on vote in 2019 general election.
Chris Holbrook, CEO of Find Out Now: ""
Martin Baxter, CEO of Electoral Calculus: "The public are broadly supportive of new chancellor Jeremy Hunt's plan to balance the books with a mixture of spending cuts and tax rises. The public are a bit less dogmatic than either party, since they have an appetite to cut spending on both welfare and defence, which are sacred cows for the left and right respectively. These findings provide support to those in the Treasury and Number 11 who think that fiscal rectitude shouldn't be achieved mostly with tax rises."
Find Out Now polled 2,427 GB adults online on 19-20 October 2022. The sample was weighted to be representative by gender, age, social grade, other demographics and past voting patterns.
Find Out Now and Electoral Calculus are both members of the British Polling Council and abide by its rules.
Full tables can be downloaded here.
Q1. Do you agree or disagree that the government needs to balance its books a bit better, by reducing the gap between what it spends and what it raises from taxes?
Q2. Assuming that the government has to balance its books a bit better, how do you think this should be done?
(INTRO) Thinking about government spending, we've made a chart which shows the fraction of government spending which goes to each type. We spend a lot of money on health and pensions, and a smaller amount on things like overseas aid.
Data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, for year 2019-20
Q3. Please look at the chart above, showing what the Government currently spends. If spending cuts have to be made across the board, how much should spending on health be cut compared with the average level of cuts?
Q4. Still looking at the chart above, if spending cuts have to be made across the board, how much should spending on pensions be cut compared with the average level of cuts?
Q5. Still looking at the chart above, if spending cuts have to be made across the board, how much should spending on welfare benefits be cut compared with the average level of cuts?
Q6. Still looking at the chart above, if spending cuts have to be made across the board, how much should spending on education be cut compared with the average level of cuts?
Q7. Still looking at the chart above, if spending cuts have to be made across the board, how much should spending on defence be cut compared with the average level of cuts?