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Autumn statement fails to revive Tory fortunes

by LLB political Reporter
27th Nov 23 6:33 am

In the week of the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement, Opinium’s latest poll reveals that Labour has gained some ground and the party’s lead now stands at 16 points.

Labour’s vote share increased by 2 points, with 42%, while the Conservatives dropped 1 point and are on 26%. All other parties are within 1 point of the last poll. 

Both Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak’s approval ratings have seen minor improvements. Starmer’s net approval now sits at -7% (+3), with 31% approving and 38% disapproving, and Sunak’s net approval is now -26 (+5), with 26% approving and 52% disapproving.

However, Keir Starmer has a 6-point lead on who UK voters think would make the best prime minister, with the Labour leader on 29% (+22) vs. 23% (+1) for Sunak.

Perceptions around the Autumn Statement measures and National Insurance tax cuts

Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement was received better by the public than the mini-budget last year. Almost a quarter (23%) thought the Autumn Statement was good in comparison to just 12% who thought the mini-budget was good when asked last year, while only 27% thought the Autumn Statement was bad compared to over half (61%) who thought the mini-budget was bad.

However, the overall jury is still out about Wednesday’s announcements, with 50% unsure whether they felt it was good or bad.

The increase in state pension (71%) and national living wage (78%) were the most popular measures announced in the Autumn Statement. The national insurance cuts were also relatively popular, including the 2% reduction  for employees (63%) and the 1% cut in self-employed national insurance (59%).

The public is more divided on national insurance levels, with 37% thinking they are too high and 35% thinking they are currently about right. Fuel duty (61%), council tax (59%) and VAT (51%) are the taxes most widely perceived as being too high. A further 40% think inheritance tax is too high, 18% think it is about right and 14% think it is too low.

A quarter (25%)  approve of the way he is handling his job as Chancellor of the Exchequer, while 40% disapprove (net approval -15). While public worries about the economy are slightly lower than after the mini-budget last year, they still remain very high, with inflation and cost of living (83%), the state of the economy generally (76%) and recession (67%) being the greatest concerns.

Adam Drummond, Head of Policy & Social Research at Opinium said: “Expecting a single fiscal event to revive the ratings of a 13-year old government may be unrealistic but, compared to the black-swan event of last year’s equivalent, it’s possible that the relative quietness of this week’s autumn statement is a measure of success.

However, the Conservatives still trail Labour on handling the economy and only 20% of voters want tax cuts if it also means cutting spending on public services so it’s hard to see promises of future cuts appealing to those outside the Tory base”

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