London, UK, 19th March, 2015: Following George Osborne’s final budget announcement ahead of the general election, a study from Harris Interactive today reveals the reaction from the nation.
Osborne hoped to convince the electorate to grant him an extension to his five-year term. However, based on a poll of 2,013 respondents conducted yesterday evening and this morning by Harris Interactive, and powered by QuickSurveys, it was found that the electorate remain far from convinced and were in need of greater stimulus.
Economic conditions and personal finances
The poll found that although almost two in five (36%) claim general economic conditions have improved under the coalition, 58% are not as positive, with 29% claiming the economy has got worse and 29% believing the government have failed to make any difference, as the economy has remained the same.
When you include people’s personal financial situations, it paints an even more negative picture. After five years of government just a quarter (24%) feel they are personally better off since the last election, whilst 35% claim to be worse off and 37% say their personal financial situation has stayed the same.
A better future?
It seems this latest budget will struggle to change perceptions regarding individual standards of living, as although 30% agreed the budget was a good thing for them personally, half (50%) claimed it would make no difference to them and a fifth (20%) disagreed.
However, importantly, a greater proportion do believe the budget was a good thing for the UK as a whole, with 40% agreeing and just 15% disagreeing.
The budget announcements supported most by the general population are as follows:
1.Tax free personal allowance to rise to £11,000 in 2017-18 (supported by 60% of respondents)
2.The first £1,000 of savings interest (or £500 for higher rate taxpayers) to be tax-free (50%)
3.Planned September fuel duty increase cancelled (47%)
4.£1.25 billion for children’s mental health services (44%)
5.Charities to be able to claim more gift aid automatically (up to £8,000) (36%)
Conservative / Labour claims
The Tories may have hoped they could dismiss Labour attacks with a growing economy and rising employment, but 43% of the general population agree with Ed Miliband that the Chancellor has “failed working families” (34% neither / nor, 23% disagree), with just 25% agreeing with George Osborne that Britain is “walking tall again” (39% neither / nor, 37% disagree). That is where the good news ends for Labour.
Trusted to run the economy?
Whilst much of this does seem doom and gloom for the Tories, there are success stories. The Tories are still perceived to be the political party that has the best policies to run the economy (29% Conservative, 22% Labour, 9% UKIP, 5% Lib Dem).
However, they could have possibly gained greater political capital by focusing on the areas on which the general population would have preferred greater emphasis in the budget:
1.NHS / Healthcare (55% of respondents)
2.Care for the elderly (36%)
3.Affordable housing (32%)
4.Unemployment / job opportunities (29%)
Another positive for the Conservatives is that George Osborne is seen as the politician the UK population trust most to run the economy going forwards. The list included former Chancellors as well as Ed Balls and current and former Liberal Democrat economic spokesmen:
1.George Osborne (most trusted by 20% of respondents)
2.Ed Balls (8%)
3.Gordon Brown (5%)
4.Vince Cable (4%)
5.Kenneth Clarke (2%)
6.Alistair Darling (2%)
7.Danny Alexander (2%)
8.Matthew Taylor (1%)
9.Norman Lamont (1%)
However, it certainly is not a ringing endorsement, especially when you consider 27% stated ‘none of the above’ and 29% were unsure.
We finally asked, based on the budget announcements, which political party has emerged as the strongest, and perhaps unsurprisingly almost a third (31%) said it was the Conservatives, whilst only 17% said Labour, 7% UKIP and 4% the Lib Dems, with over a third (36%) remaining unsure.
Phil Brooks, Financial Services Director at Harris Interactive, who compiled the research commented:
“We’re pleased to have conducted this piece of research within hours of the budget announcement. Having the ability to gauge the public’s reaction immediately following a national event such as the Budget reveals some intriguing insights, made all the more fascinating in the run up to the general election campaign.”
The survey was conducted between 18th & 19th March 2015 among 2,013 adults (18+) in UK. Respondents were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Toluna surveys. Figures for age, gender and region were weighted to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. As the sample is based on those who agreed to participate, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
About Harris Interactive Europe
Harris Interactive Europe (comprising Harris Interactive UK Ltd, Harris Interactive SAS in France, and Harris Interactive AG in Germany) is a full service, consultative custom market research agency. Working internationally from our offices, our activities span both business-to-business and consumer markets, specialising in: automotive; consumer packaged goods; energy; entertainment; financial services; healthcare; media; technology; telecoms; and travel.
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