Tomorrow sees the publication of the TaxPayers’ Alliance‘s annual landscape survey of public opinion in the run up to the party conference season.
Most newspapers will probably focus on the finding that 40% of voters have given serious thought to moving abroad or are actually planning to do so.
For ConservativeHome, however, it is the finding on cutting the tax burden whilst protecting public services that is most interesting. 66% agreed that the nation "could lower taxes without having to cut spending on vital services… if Britain reformed public services and cut waste". That number is up from 54% in January 2007 when ICM polled on the issue. The ‘if’ in that question is, of course, a big ‘if’. Voters may be sceptical about any political party’s ability to cut waste. There is, however, a very strong belief among voters that there is enormous waste in Britain’s public sector:
- Nearly five times as many voters think that they get poor or bad
value for money from local government as think they get good or
excellent value for money. The ratio is 7 to 1 when it comes to value
for money from central government.
- 53% think that more than £20 of every £100 that government spends is wasted.
- 65% believe that the extra money spent by government on public services since 1997 has generally been spent badly.
- When it comes to explaining why spending is wasteful… 66% say
constant changes, reorganisation and rebranding; 62% blame bureaucracy
and 60% identify money being spent on the wrong projects.
Here are some other key findings from their YouGov survey:
- The cost of utility bills is the number one financial worry for
British families. 65% identify their electricity etc bills as a "major
financial worry". Rising council tax is the second big worry (61%).
House price affordability is a major worry for 51% of families.
- 70% of voters say that they are paying more tax than 1997. 79% expect taxes to be higher still in three years.
The council tax is the most unfair tax according to the 2,162
people surveyed by YouGov. Then comes the BBC licence fee, then
inheritance tax and then fuel duty. Working class voters are least
happy with the BBC’s poll tax. 67% think it unfair.
- A cut in council tax was something that 68% of respondents would
like to see. The third favoured cut option was excluding the main home
from inheritance tax. 63% liked the idea of that. Conservative
members recently identified a reduction in inheritance tax as their favourite tax relief option.
- 44% of respondents would like the party they support to pledge a
reduction in taxes. 38% recommend holding taxes steady. 6% want their
party to increase taxes. This suggests that a US-style Tax Pledge,
where candidates promise not to vote for any package that increases the
overall tax burden, would command majority support.
- 26% would use a £1,000 tax cut to pay off debt. 28% would invest it in a pension or general savings.
- 69% of voters believe that it’s a good idea when people from
outside Parliament are appointed to ministerial or shadow ministerial
posts by Gordon Brown and David Cameron. 63% of respondents agreed
that "few if any senior politicians have the necessary experience,
competence and knowledge to run public services".