Support for spending cuts

May 25, 2010, 6:58 PM GMT+0

The majority of the British public (56%) support the government’s plans to make £6 billon of immediate savings in government spending, but many are unwilling to accept cuts in frontline services like policing and education.

Yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to cut over £6 billion of ‘wasteful’ government spending as the new government attempts to reduce a budget deficit that is thought to stand at £165 billon. As well as axing Child Trust Funds, Osborne also outlined plans to cut quangos and freeze recruitment for the Civil Service. 56% of people support these cuts, believing that it is important that they are made as soon as possible to reduce the budget deficit, although a significant 33% said that they oppose them because it is too early to make cuts and risks putting the country back into recession.

Unsurprisingly, given their party’s pledge to make cuts in their manifesto, Conservative voters are most supportive of these cuts, with 92% saying they support the government making these savings this year, compared to 63% of Liberal Democrat and only 20% of Labour voters.

However, despite the majority of the public supporting the £6 billion of savings, many are unwilling to accept any future cuts in frontline services. When thinking about the cuts the government might have to make in the longer term to reduce the budget deficit, 50% said they thought cuts in frontline services are too high a price to pay and that the government should therefore find alternate ways of reducing the deficit, for example by bigger tax increases. Only 24% agreed with the statement ‘in the longer term we may have to accept some cuts in frontline services, such as fewer policemen or teachers, but it is the only way to reduce the deficit’.

Interestingly, older people are more likely to balk at frontline service cuts than their younger counterparts: 54% of over-55s felt frontline service cuts were unacceptable compared to 43% of 18-24 year-olds.

Survey details and full results