Britons are divided over whether Jeremy Hunt's Spring Budget is fair or unfair

Joanna MorrisData Journalist
March 16, 2023, 4:00 PM GMT+0

But the British public remain deeply pessimistic about the way the economy is headed

A new YouGov survey reveals that Britons are responding extremely positively to some of the headline measures outlined in Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget yesterday.

However, the public is divided over whether the Budget as a whole is fair or unfair, while Britons continue to lack confidence in the government’s ability to handle the economy – 65% say it is being handled badly.

Britons say the Spring Budget is fairer than Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘mini-Budget’

At 31% to 33%, Britons are divided over whether they think the measures contained within the budget are fair overall, or not.

That is similar to the outcome for Hunt's u-turn Autumn Statement in November (31% fair to 30% unfair).

And it is a significantly better outcome than met Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘mini-Budget’ last autumn, when 57% of Britons said Kwarteng’s measures collectively were unfair, the worst score for any financial statement since the Conservatives took power in 2010.

However, the perception of how fair or unfair Hunt’s Budget is lags behind many others as the fifth most unfair announced since June 2010, according to analysis of YouGov’s historical surveys.

What do Britons make of the Spring Budget?

Of the measures outlined by the Chancellor, there is considerable support for maintaining the domestic cap on energy prices for the next three months.

More than eight in ten Britons (85%) think it is a good idea, making it the most popular measure of the Budget that we asked about.

It is followed by the Chancellor’s plans to freeze tax on petrol and diesel, which is considered a positive move by 79% of the British public.

Childcare measures were similarly well received, with 71% of Britons saying it is a good idea to extend the current offering of 30 free hours of childcare for working parents of two and three-year-olds to younger children.

At the other end of the scale, plans to reduce taxes on draft beer and cider are the least popular – at 49% to 35%, Britons tend to say this is the wrong priority for the current time, as opposed to a good idea.

Just 6% of Britons think they and their families will be better off as a result of the Budget

Around a quarter of Britons (23%) believe the chancellor’s measures will make Britain worse off – but twice as many (46%) think they won’t make much difference to the country at all.

Despite significant support for some of the measures outlined in the statement, just 13% of the public think they will make the country better off when taken as a whole.

The perspective does not shift much when it comes to Britons considering how the Budget will affect them personally.

A majority – 56% - say Jeremy Hunt’s measures won’t make much difference to them or their families, with 25% saying they believe they will be left worse off as a result. In comparison, 50% of Britons thought changes in November’s Autumn Statement would leave their families worse off.

Just 6% of Britons think they and their families will be better off as a result of the Spring Budget.

The state of the economy is seen to be improving under Hunt, but Britons remain pessimistic

The state of the economy under Jeremy Hunt has improved somewhat since last autumn, according to YouGov’s polling.

While nearly three-quarters of Britons (73%) think the country’s economy is currently in a bad state, that’s down from the 84% who said so in November.

However, just 6% say it is in a good state while two-thirds of Britons (65%) believe the government is continuing to handle the economy badly (67% thought so in November).

More than half (56%) of the public believe Britain’s economic situation will worsen in the next year, a proportion significantly higher than the 18% who believe it will get better. A fifth (20%) think it will stay about the same.

And half (51%) think their household’s financial situation will worsen in the next 12 months, with just 12% expecting it to get better.

Conservative voters are far more likely to have a positive outlook – 49% believe the country’s economic situation will change for the better in the next year, while 26% believe their family’s situation will.

Three-quarters of Tory voters (76%) think the government is managing the economy well, a significant uplift from the 33% who said so following Kwarteng’s mini-Budget and far higher than the 37% who said so in November.

Just 17% of Conservative voters now say the government is handling the economy badly, down from 48% in September and 46% in November.

Is Jeremy Hunt doing a good job, according to the British public?

Unsurprisingly, those who voted Conservative at the last general election are also most likely to believe Jeremy Hunt is doing a good job in his role as chancellor, with 69% of Tories saying so (6% believe he’s doing a bad job).

At 26% to 34%, Britons are overall generally more likely to think he’s doing a bad job in the role than a good one – however, half (52%) have not yet made up their minds.

Picture: Getty

See full tables here