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Dr Spencer Pitfield OBE is Director Union Blue and Senior Consultant at Techne UK.

It goes without saying that we live in simply unprecedented and febrile political times. Like others, I approach the evening news with a sense of foreboding and overall weariness as day after day one new devastating revelation after another appears.

I spend a lot of time it seems repeating my newfound mantra to those who ask for a quick personal political comment: I will not, and cannot, defend what is clearly indefensible… if you break the rules, you must be held accountable… no one is above the law.

Like everyone who enters into politics, whatever their level or role, I have always wanted to do the very best for our communities and country at large. Whilst the unedifying sight of the Conservative Party attempting to self-destruct and the polarised tub thumping of the other parties continues, I cannot help but be so very saddened that we are losing sight of the really grave issues we face at this time.

How difficult it seems now to get ‘airtime’ for the required debate and careful consideration of key policy issues and approaches which are so urgently required.

In 2019 the Prime Minister was elected with a sizable majority, and at the time I was particularly excited by the then promise to further develop and promote what has become known as the ‘levelling up agenda’.

A promise, in short, to provide a better quality of life and opportunity for those in the most deprived parts of our country; an exciting vision to reduce inequality, support those in poverty out of it, and to give those people in most need across our country a ‘leg up’ on the ladder of opportunity.

Polling just released, however, conducted by Techne UK in partnership with the think tank Bright Blue, makes for very sombre reading at the halfway mark of this Parliament.

Those surveyed believe the Government has been performing worse than expected since the last general election across almost all key policy areas polled. Significantly, and most worryingly for the Government, except in the policy areas of climate change and healthcare (net +13 per cent), a majority of 2019 Conservative voters believe too that the Conservative Party is not delivering on its key election policy promises.

Further to the overall assertion that Government has not been able to deliver on its promised agenda, this poll also highlights voters feel particularly concerned that we remain massively unprepared to deal with the major challenges no doubt coming down the line in 2022. These include the rising cost of living (food and energy prices in particular), flooding, and crime.

Here particularly social care (net -34 per cent) and Local Government (net -37 per cent) received the poorest marks from those surveyed.

Poverty is particularly emphasised by those questioned in this research highlighting that the public feels that people on lower incomes have been most likely to suffer since the last election. Indeed, large majorities of respondents think those on low incomes (71 per cent) and the very poorest in our society (70 per cent) have become financially worse off since December 2019. By stark contrast very few people thought those on high incomes have become worse off (nine per cent).

Other ways the Government might better support hard working families included keeping prices for everyday goods low (16 per cent) and increasing the minimum wage (23 per cent). Those polled believed the best ways to support businesses affected by the pandemic would be the continued provision of well-targeted grants and loans to those companies most affected.

With regards to what the Government should prioritise in 2022, improving healthcare and social care perhaps unsurprisingly come out on top.

The considerable dilemma though that the Government faces – both within the Conservative Party and across the country – is the fact that those polled are also clear that the best way to help people at this time is to cut taxes for low- and middle-income families, whilst simultaneously also wishing for public spending levels in key policy areas to be increased.

A balancing act that this Chancellor, indeed any chancellor, would struggle to accomplish – especially at a time when Government debt levels due to this terrible pandemic are so very high.

Throughout this important poll it is clear that voters feel that Boris Johnson’s Government has underperformed, is unprepared for what is to come, and across almost all key policy areas of concern has not delivered.

People feel worse off, and they fear things are only going to get worse.

Regardless of the Prime Minister’s very considerable political problems, history tells us when you are seen not to be delivering on the policy priorities of the people your days in office are numbered.

This is therefore not just a critical juncture for the Prime Minister – without immediate action in key policy areas it will become difficult to win people back.