People want higher taxes for increased public spending, says poll

24 Oct 17

Nearly two-thirds of the public say government spending should increase even if that means higher taxes as support for austerity fades, according to research.

These are among the findings of a survey in Deloitte’s annual The State of the State report, which looked at changing attitudes to public spending.

The study, compiled by Ipsos Mori, found 63% of those surveyed were in favour of increasing government spending on public services, even if that means increases to some taxes.

This has risen from 59% in the same survey last year.

Rebecca George, lead public sector partner at Deloitte, said: “The chancellor was right to warn that people are growing weary of the long slog of austerity.

“This data shows people less convinced of the need to bring down public spending and increasingly seeing the effects of cuts in their everyday lives.”

The study of 1,071 UK adults found that 57% of people do not want to see spending on public services reduced to pay off national debt, compared to 22% who do.

Similarly, 52% of people would not accept less from the public services they use to pay down debt, versus 20% who would.

Support for austerity appears to have halved since the beginning of the decade, with 54% of the people in a 2010 Ipsos Mori survey agreeing with the need to cut public spending compared to just 22% in 2017.

George added: “Public clamour for an easing of austerity comes right at the point that the UK reaches the summit of its debt mountain and current spending plans are geared towards paying down both our deficit and the public debt.

“Balancing these two competing priorities will be a big challenge, particularly as the chancellor looks ahead to next month’s Budget.”

Researchers found that support for cutting taxes is also waning with just 10% of respondents saying taxes should be cut even if that means reductions in services, down from 12% last year.

The survey also revealed that when asked to pick two or three areas of public spending that should be protected from any spending cuts, 80% chose the NHS, 49% chose education and schools and 32% chose police. 

Today’s report also looked at the public’s awareness of social care provision and funding which shows “worrying ignorance” of the issue.

As many as 63% of people wrongly think that the NHS provides social care services for older people, with 47% wrongly believing that social care is free at the point of need.

Only 55% of people recognised that they need to save or make financial plans for their social care, while 44% said they have considered making financial preparations to pay for social care, with 31% not thinking about it at all.

Just 35% said they are already making these plans, with 43% saying that have made no plans at all.

Caroline Hope, lead social care partner at Deloitte, said: “With life expectancy rising and the social care system already under pressure, this survey paints of worrying picture.

“The public are largely uninformed about how social care is delivered in the UK, unconvinced by existing policy and unprepared for their own care.”

She called on the government to invest in social care as the provider market is unable to service the growing needs in the sector.

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