Balancing the budget books

April 06, 2010, 10:31 PM GMT+0

Many remain unconvinced that the future government, whether Labour or Conservative, will meet the borrowing targets they have pledged, and are divided as to how the different parties will cut spending.

Despite both Alistair Darling and George Osborne insisting on Channel 4’s live debate last week that, if elected, they would cut the budget deficit, a survey for the Sun showed that a huge 57% of the public believe that a Labour government may not hit its borrowing targets. The story for the Conservatives is little better - 42% thought the same of them.

However, the similarity between the public opinion of the election forerunners stops there. Only 12% of the public believe Labour will hit the borrowing target and believe that it will do so primarily by cutting public services; the other 31% who believe Labour will succeed in meeting the target think they will do so by raising taxes. This perhaps reflects Alistair Darling’s emphasis in Monday’s debate that a National Insurance cap would leave a worrying hole in public funds.

Conviction of how a Conservative government would fare differs hugely. Once again this might reflect the party’s statement of intent with regards to taxes, in particular a complete contravention of Labour’s plans in the form of a cap on National Insurance. In contrast to Labour, 42% believe that a Conservative government would meet the borrowing target by cutting public spending, compared to only 16% who believe they will meet the borrowing target through raising taxes.

With so much of the public refusing to predict satisfied borrowing targets, regardless of May’s result, it seems that many remain unconvinced that either of the party heavyweights are taking the issue of spending and budget seriously. ‘Ask the Chancellors’? The public still awaits the right answers.

For survey details and full results, please click here