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Public more concerned than reassured after Budget, poll suggests

17 Mar 2023 3 minute read
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt leaves 11 Downing Street, London, with his ministerial box before delivering his Budget. Photo Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Public opinion is divided on this week’s Budget but more people are concerned than reassured, a poll has found.

Just 13% of people told pollster Ipsos they felt more reassured about their personal finances after Wednesday’s announcement, with 12% saying the same about the state of the UK’s public services.

The poll of 1,000 adults also found 22% saying the Budget left them more reassured about the state of the economy.

But 35% said it had made them more concerned about the economy and public services while 37% said they were more concerned about their own finances.

The reaction is more positive than after Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement in November, and many of the Chancellor’s individual policies have been well received.

Extending the energy price guarantee until June was backed by 74% of people, while 70% supported maintaining the freeze in fuel duty and 59% said they were in favour of expanding free childcare provision.

Only freezing income tax thresholds and awarding an annual £1 million prize for AI innovation had more opponents than supporters.

But for a Chancellor who told reporters after the Budget that there was “no path (to re-election) for us without a reputation for economic competence”, the Ipsos poll has less positive news on overall views of the Government’s handling of the economy.

Labour lead

Labour still has a six-point lead on which party is most trusted to handle the economy, the same as after the autumn statement, and 61% of people said they were not confident that the Conservatives had a good long-term economic plan compared to 51% who say the same about Labour.

Some 60% blame decisions made by Mr Hunt and Rishi Sunak for the current state of the economy, while two-thirds said the Tories’ economic policies over the last 13 years are responsible.

Mr Sunak does still lead Sir Keir Starmer on who is more trusted to manage the economy, but that lead has fallen from eight points in November to just two after the Budget.

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos, said: “Although Britons recognise that external factors are also to blame, many do still hold the Conservatives responsible for at least some of Britain’s economic difficulties.

“Changing this will not just depend on people’s immediate responses to the Budget in the short-term, but on whether the public sees any improvements in the economy and to public services over the next few months.”

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