Coffee House

Increased support for more spending, but also for benefit cuts

17 September 2012

4:28 PM

17 September 2012

4:28 PM

‘Support for an increase in public spending rises.’ That’s the headline generated by the latest British Social Attitudes survey results, out today. They show that the proportion of the population saying that the government should ‘increase taxes and spend more’ rose from 31 per cent in 2010 to 36 per cent in 2011 — the first such rise since 2002. Meanwhile, the proportion backing tax and spending cuts fell from 9 per cent to 6 per cent.

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Notably, the survey doesn’t give the option of reducing taxes and spending more (ruling out, for example, Ed Balls’ proposed combination of a VAT cut and increased infrastructure spending), nor of increasing taxes and spending less (as the coalition’s deficit reduction programme actually entails). And there are two other important caveats to that headline: support for increased spending is still a minority opinion (55 per cent want taxes and spending kept the same), and it remains well below where it was during Thatcher’s spending cuts in the 1980s and the last round of recession-induced cuts in the mid-90s.

The report is full of other interesting tidbits, particularly when it comes to welfare. For example, while the majority still agree that ‘the government should be mainly responsible for ensuring people have enough to live on if they become unemployed’, it’s a much thinner majority (59 per cent) than it was a decade ago (88 per cent). Indeed, 62 per cent now say that unemployment benefits ‘are too high and discourage work’ — the highest proportion since the survey began in 1983.

The Telegraph claims that this shows support for Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms, and indeed it seems to. But when asked how the benefit system should be improved, most respondents chose ‘targeting benefits only at those who really need them’ as a top priority. That suggests there would also be support for a welfare reform that David Cameron has specifically rejected: ending universal benefits such as the Winter Fuel Allowance for pensioners.


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Show comments
  • http://www.facebook.com/gerrit.devisser Gerrit de Visser

    .again nobody seems to grasp why things are not working. firstly, we employed the government its like running a business, first the government must stop spending on themselves, cut back on expenses, cut back on their salaries and show that the government can do cutbacks. decrease taxes, fuel tax, wealth tax get the 12 trillion off shore taxed, stop handing out benefits to anyone who lands on the shores unless they have worked for a good couple of years, stop benefit thieves, stop handing away money to rich countries, get your economy going first before you help others, put more money in the working mans pocket and the economy will start by itself. simple economics.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gerrit.devisser Gerrit de Visser

    .again nobody seems to grasp why things are not working. firstly, we employed the government its like running a business, first the government must stop spending on themselves, cut back on expenses, cut back on their salaries and show that the government can do cutbacks. decrease taxes, fuel tax, wealth tax get the 12 trillion off shore taxed, stop handing out benefits to anyone who lands on the shores unless they have worked for a good couple of years, stop benefit thieves, stop handing away money to rich countries, get your economy going first before you help others, put more money in the working mans pocket and the economy will start by itself. simple economics.

  • John Bickley

    As usual, many voters’ knee jerk reaction to the question: ‘should taxes be raised and spending increased’, is yes. This is because they assume they won’t be taxed but will benefit from increased spending.

    A law needs to be passed to teach children the laws of economics in relation to how Countries fund themselves; only then will voters realise that only when a country generates wealth and spends within its means can it survive in a globalised World.

    • cg

      The laws of economics in this current crisis seem to suggest that tax cuts will benefit the wealthy while leaving everyone else worse off. Let me guess, you would benefit a lot of from tax cuts, yes? How much do you think the unemployed will gain from your increased wealth? Selfishness is not very popular at the moment (except with some coffee housers).

      • james102

        But selfishness is popular, which is what the survey shows.
        We are becoming more individualistic as a society. I have stated why I think
        this is happening what are your views?

        • http://www.coffeehousewall.co.uk/ Coffeehousewall

          So the people who don’t actually pay tax or earn real wealth want to increase the taxation of those who do, and increase the benefits they receive. All good reasons for denying the franchise to those who do not contribute.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Selfishness is the basis of democracy. Each person votes in his own interest and the result is a government truly democratically elected. It’s the hidden hand again. Now I am retired and both my children work for the state I ought to vote Labour. Funnily enough I can’t quite bring myself to do this. I OUGHT to but no, some gut feeling interposes. Could it be love of country? What is to be done? Obviously I am not a true democrat.

  • UlyssesReturns

    Given that around 36% of the population of these over-taxed isles are in receipt of taxpayer largesse through: unemployment benefit, DLA, Housing Benefit, Civil Service salaries and pensions, I would be surprised if those in favour of spending increases were any any less. The important number, and the only one worth consideration, is the majority in favour of more welfare cuts. And by the way, spending has increased, despite what Balls, Milliband, Telemachus, Osborne and Cameron would like us to believe, (As usual I will not respond to trolls).

    • telemachus

      Oh dear.
      The coaltion cut the capital programme in lieu of the stuctural deficit and led us directly to the double dip.
      Analysis of recent history leads us to understand the folly of not listening to Balls’ agenda for growth
      It is not too late.

    • dalai guevara

      Correct, spending has increased due to fewer taxes paid as a result of changes in the jobs market. Reduce the welfare bill by removing the 16h tax/ work hurdle that prohibits the low-income segment from working more (legally).

      It’s all been done before elsewhere, study the case and act.

  • james102

    I’m glad you have picked up on this survey as I made reference
    to it earlier.

    The issue you don’t deal with is immigration, also recorded
    in the survey, which I think is linked to the weakening of support for the
    welfare state as we have traditionally viewed it in the UK.As we become more
    diverse there will be more reluctance to pay high taxes to support people we
    don’t identify with.

    The proportion of people saying unemployment benefit was too
    high, 62% should be contrasted with the same question posed during the last
    recession in the 1990s when only 24% thought benefits were too high.

    • http://www.coffeehousewall.co.uk/ Coffeehousewall

      Why has the Spectator DELIBERATELY decided not to mention the immigration element of this poll? The bit which said that most people want immigration reduced by a large amount.

      Is it because the Barclay Brothers support unlimited immigration? We know that members of the Spectator team do. Is this what will happen more and more? Things that the Spectator or its owners don’t agree with just won’t be reported?

      • james102

        As I have written before the libertarian right see us as
        bipedal work units so the more immigrants the less it costs to get work units.
        The conflict with the welfare state is that taxpayers pick a lot of the bill
        up.

        Andrew Neather and the Labour party strategists, who worked
        to open our borders ,may have thought mass immigration would: “rub the rights’
        noses into multiculalism” but unless you take the narrow view that the right is
        only defined by nationalism it is the left that will have its noses rubbed into
        the dismantling of the welfare state as the electorate refuse to pay high taxes
        to support others they do not identify with.

        • telemachus

          You clearly subscribe to the Borjas thesis:-
          “Immigration generates a sizable redistribution of wealth in the economy, reducing the incomes of natives who are now competing
          with immigrant workers in the labor market and increasing the incomes of capitalists and other users of immigrant services”
          Now just who is the winner-the right?-the left?
          No we all win because our culture and outlook are immeasurably enriched.

          • http://www.coffeehousewall.co.uk/ Coffeehousewall

            This is a comment from the man? who thinks that objecting to the torture of small girls by those importing these ‘enriching’ cultures is a joke and something to be laughed at.

          • james102

            Have you seen the crime statistics? The ethnic makeup of our
            prisons? The problems parents have in London finding places in schools for
            their children? The cost of housing? Rat meat being sold in Hackney markets?(reported
            today.)The restrictions on our freedom of speech? The security restrictions due
            to Islamic extremists?

            • dalai guevara

              Jesus Holy C! I don’t know which foreigners you deal with on a regular basis, but the ‘islamic extremists’ I invited round for dinner the other night pointed out to me that Mango pulp goes perfectly with vanilla ice cream.

              Each to their own.

              • james102

                We need to deal with the affect on our society rather than individuals.
                The 14 year old black boy stabbed a couple of days’ ago was probably a nice
                person unlike his killers. But they are part of the gang culture brought in
                from the Caribean.The Islamic extremists whose actions have resulted in the
                loss of so many of our freedoms can’t be offset by the nice family who works
                hard in the local convenience store. The Somalias who mutilate their girl
                children are no doubt a minority but they exist. The Africans who beat witchcraft
                out of children are a minority but exist. Remember the child’s body parts taken
                from the Thames and said to be those of a young boy trafficked to be used in witchcraft
                ceremonies?

                Our prisons have a disproportionate number of ethnic minorities
                that is a fact. Street robbery is disproportionately committed by
                Afro-Caribeans.Did you see the case of the young mothers straggled into unconsciousness
                by muggers in South West London last week? Did you notice their colour? Did you
                notice the colour of the majority of rioters last year? Do you remember the
                ethnic origin of the man whose death was used as an excuse?

                A cost benefit analyses of mass immigration into Britain,
                England really, would show that the average Briton’s quality of life has been
                decreased by it.

                These may not be fashionable views but fashions change in
                the light of circumstances.

                • dalai guevara

                  Jesus Holy C!

                  When I went on a Boris bike jolly along the canals of suburban Manchester recently, and passed under bridges and undercrofts with my partner and children, I by chance bumped into adidas clad no.1 clipper stylee lads exchanging large bags of tens for small bags of coke. All ‘indigenous’, mind.

                  As a student, opening my ground floor student house bedroom window for the first time on a warm summers night, a lad with baseball cap tried to sneak in at three in the morning, thinking this was an open lounge window. He was ‘indigenous’, mind.

                  When on a night out a few years back now, we ended up in a bar with dancefloor – one of the lads on the beers went up to a chap with a good looking companion, and for no reason whatsoever, smashed his beer bottle right into his face. He was ‘indigenous’ mind.

                  You do not have a mirror in your home, do you?

                  This is England.

                • james102

                  That is multicultural England. The England created by our
                  present political class.

                  We need to counter the compulsory rose tinted view of mass
                  immigration and particularly multiculturalism. The society we now have is the
                  result of policies and two of the most influential was the decision to open our
                  borders and enforce multiculturalism.

                • dalai guevara

                  My gut feeling is that you are right about m a s s immigration, other than that my belly loves it. Can no longer do pies every day since I stopped working down the mines…

                • james102

                  I suspect you have only visited a mine as a tourist. A hard
                  day in front of a class or in the Town Hall is more likely.

                  Have you seen the BBC item on rat meat being sold in a
                  Hackney market? Multiculural cuisine.

                • dalai guevara

                  Just been to a French/ Derbyshire wedding. Frog legs, yummy scrumptious!

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, James? Rat meat was the foundation of the British Navy and the public schools.

                • telemachus

                  James
                  If you draft in word you should close the gaps on edit
                  That way it will only read as stupid.

                • james102

                  “..that way it will only read as stupid” ? As opposed to?
                  I’m sure you are capable of understanding without me going to the trouble of
                  editing.

              • telemacharse

                It’s not the exotic fruit lovers that are the problem numbnuts. It’s the 10% with a taste for semtex and fertiliser we don’t want as guests.

                • dalai guevara

                  Ah yes, the Irish – I see.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Perhaps the Spec is positioning itself as the ‘nasty’ wing of the Guardian.

        • http://www.coffeehousewall.co.uk/ Coffeehousewall

          Well I’ve said before that someone told me that the Barclay Brothers wanted to reposition the Spectator as a LibDem publication, and it does seem to make sense.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Except that there aren’t enough Lib Dems now to keep the paper going. Anyway, they all buy the Independent.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Perhaps the Spec is positioning itself as the ‘nasty’ wing of the Guardian.

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