Budget 2021 measures prove popular with Britons

Anthony WellsDirector of Political and Social Research
March 04, 2021, 4:10 PM UTC

Our snap polling last night found people approved of the 2021 Budget by 46% to 11%. Overnight we conducted more detailed polling about the contents of the Budget and what people think of the state of the economy.

The message of hard economic times has clearly cut through. Two thirds (67%) of people think the economy is in a bad state, with only 7% thinking it is in good order. Almost a third (32%) expect it to improve again over the next twelve months, but 45% expect things to get worse.

There is little economic optimism, yet the public give the government's management of the economy a thumbs up - 48% think they are managing the economy well, compared to 39% badly.

Rishi Sunak's own ratings remain extremely high. A majority (55%) think he is doing well as Chancellor, with just 16% saying he is doing a bad job. Even among those who voted Labour at the last election he has a positive rating.

The main individual measures in the Budget were all positively received. The extension of coronavirus support for business, the furlough scheme and the extension of the universal credit uplift were all considered a good idea by over 70% of respondents. The increase in Corporation Tax for larger businesses was supported by 72% of people.

Even the least popular of the measures we asked about (freezing alcohol duties and guaranteeing 95% mortgages) were approved of by over half of respondents.

Overall, 55% of the public think that the Budget was a fair one, just 16% of people think that it was unfair. The 55% is the highest rating we've recorded in the 12 years we've been asking this question. 

Part of the support for the Budget may be the fact that, while it announced two large tax increases, one of these fell upon businesses (and was consequently widely popular), while the second - the freezing of income tax thresholds - is somewhat opaque. Most people (62%) think the Budget will not make much difference to their own finances, 6% think it will leave them better off, and 18% worse off - suggesting that most people do not see the tax changes as something that will directly impact them.

Our voting intention figures out today suggest that the positively reception for the Budget may also have translated into support for the government. If so, be cautious of how long it lasts. There are many cases of Budgets being positively received when first announced, only for public opinion to fall back again once it becomes clear exactly how the Chancellor has made their sums add up.

See full results here