Voters support reducing the size of the welfare state but not necessarily through cutting tax credits. According to a new poll from ComRes and the Daily Mail, just under half back ‘reducing the size of the welfare state’ but 58 per cent oppose cutting tax credits for working people, while a similar percentage also oppose making part-time workers on tax credits do more hours. But in better news for George Osborne: a huge 90 per cent back increasing the minimum wage to £9 an hour.
According to the poll, one in five of those polled said that tax credit shouldn’t be cut and that the deficit should be reduced at a slower rate instead. Just eight per cent believe that the cuts to tax credits should go ahead as planned, compared to 35 per cent who support cutting the amount of money spent on foreign aid and 33 per cent who back increasing taxes on high earners. There is a danger, though, with these polling questions that the public are likely to plump for the option that simply sounds most appealing. Cutting foreign aid and penalising the wealthy sounds far more acceptable than reducing tax credits but hiking taxes on the rich could actually lead to the government receiving less in tax revenue than before.
The tax credits row also appears to be harming the government's overall standing. ComRes reports the Conservatives still have a five point lead over Labour in voting intentions — 38 per cent — while Labour is on 33 per cent. But this is down from a nine point lead in September.