Do we trust politicians? Is that the same as asking if we trust estate agents, door-to-door salesmen or, er, journalists?
According to new research by Comparethemarket.com, consumers overwhelmingly believe that the main political parties and their leaders do not understand the financial anxieties of ordinary people and that the next government will not have the ability to introduce measures to improve their financial situation.
The research, based on a poll of more than 6,000 UK adults, found that more than a third of people feel worse off compared to the last election in May 2015. Almost nine in ten respondents believe that this is the fault of policies implemented by the current government. Meanwhile, almost a quarter of people do not trust any of the major political parties to protect, or improve, their financial well-being.
In addition, Theresa May (31 per cent) and Jeremy Corbyn (28 per cent) are regarded only by a minority as able to understand ‘well’ the financial concerns of ordinary people – and viewed by 42 per cent and 45 per cent respectively as understanding them ‘badly’.
None of this comes as a big surprise except, perhaps, the news that May and Corbyn are nigh on neck and neck when it comes a lack of public faith in their ability to properly comprehend individual financial challenges. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the respective parties’ electoral promises on money, made over the weekend.
Ah, this old chestnut. While the Tories have ruled out a VAT rise, the Prime Minister has left the door open for other tax rises, something the party pledged not to do in the 2010 general election.
Meanwhile, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said yesterday that Labour will not raise income tax for those earning less than £80,000 a year. This is an element of an election ‘personal tax guarantee’ for 95 per cent of taxpayers. However, he added that people on more than £80,000 would pay ‘a modest bit more’ to fund public services.
Following widespread speculation that the Conservatives will scrap the pension triple-lock guarantee (whereby the state pension rises in line with inflation, average earnings or 2.5 per cent, whichever is the highest), the Lib Dems have announced they will retain this protection for state pensions. But leader Tim Farron said yesterday that the party would strip wealthier pensioners of the winter fuel allowance, at a cost of up to £300 a year to older people.
Helen Nugent is Online Money Editor of The Spectator