Only A Quarter Of People Expect The Government To Keep Its Promise On Tax Hikes
Only a quarter of people believe the government will stick to their election-winning promise of not increasing income tax, National Insurance or VAT, an exclusive end-of-year poll for PoliticsHome carried out by Redfield & Wilton Strategies has found.
Just 28 percent said they had faith the Conservatives would be able to stick to the manifesto commitment, such is the economic fall-out of Covid-19.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned this autumn that the country must begin returning to sustainable public finances by the Spring of 2021 to deal with the £200 billion in Covid response spending, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies has suggested this is only possible through higher taxes.
Revising the capital gains tax allowance, aligning the tax treatment of the self-employed versus employees have both been mooted by economic as possible solutions to the significant cost to the country of the pandemic, however the public believe the hit could fall on them.
The poll carried out earlier this month found that 35 percent disagreed that the Tories would be able to keep their promise, with 26 percent neither agreeing nor disagreeing and 11 percent saying they did not know.
There is no suggestion the Treasury has earmarked any of those taxes for potential increases, though the polling results signals concern from the public.
John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "Raising taxes in such dire economic circumstances would only hinder a recovery. The government must enact pro-growth policies to get Britain booming again.
"With the tax burden at a 50-year high there is little public appetite for tax hikes. Taxpayers can’t be expected to foot the bill for evermore state borrowing and spending.
"Sensible moves, like abolishing the national insurance jobs tax, offer the most reliable route to boosting employment and investment in the long term.”
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director said the new Tier 4 rules will make life even harder for retailers who were relying on a busy Christmas period and who are continuing to seek tax relief.
Rather than any potential tax hikes, they suggested that in the New Year a new look is needed to support business.
“There’s no doubt a fresh look will be needed in January as to how the Government can support UK businesses through to the Spring. Avoiding cliff-edges in other schemes like tax deferrals, grants and business rates holidays, will be essential early in the new year,” he suggested.
Significant worry about the current state of the economy was also evident in the poll with 69 percent saying they are more concerned about the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 than they were about the 2007-08 financial crisis at the time.
Only eleven percent said they were more concerned about the crash than they are now. Twenty percent said they did not know.
The regions and nations expressing the most concern about Covid than the last economic crisis were Scotland, Wales and Eastern England.
The survey also revealed that 82 percent of the over 65s believe the economic downturn from coronavirus is worse than the financial crash, compared to four percent who think it is the other way round.
Perhaps understandably, a quarter of 18 to 24 year olds said they did not know whether they were more concerned about the economic downturn in the mid to late 2000s or the coronavirus pandemic as they were children at the time of the last crash.
The wide-ranging poll also asked people how they felt about the performance of the prime minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Keir Starmer had been in relation to Covid-19.
A majority of those asked disapproved of Johnson’s response to coronavirus (42 percent) compared to 37 percent approving. 19 percent said they neither approved nor disapproved. The poll was undertaken before the fall-out over Christmas plans and the introduction of Tier 4.
His lowest approval rating came from those polled in Scotland, with only 18 percent of people approving his work on the Covid response. Of that figure just two percent said they strongly approved. This compared to 64 percent who disapproved.
The South East of England gave him the highest approval at 46 percent.
Fifty-eight percent of Tory voters backed his Covid-19 response, compared to 23 percent of Labour voters, and 24 percent of SNP voters. The age group that disapproved the most over Johnson’s performance was those aged 55 to 64, which may be of note for the government as older voters are often seen as a mainstay of the Tory vote.
Overall more people approved of Starmer than disapproved, however there was only a five percent difference in the responses from the public and the leading answer on his performance was one of ambivalence.
Results showed that 33 percent neither approved nor disapproved of Labour Leader Keir Starmer’s response to the coronavirus crisis, compared to 30 percent who approved and 27 percent who disapproved.
The poll was conducted on December 2.