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Two-Thirds Of Tory Voters Believe Financial Situation Will Worsen Over Next Year

A majority of voters expect their financial situation to get worse over the next year

5 min read

New polling has found nearly a quarter of Tory voters believe excessive government spending was "significantly" to blame for rising inflation.

Concerns around the cost of living are continuing to grip voters, as the impact of soaring energy prices and rising inflation hits household budgets, a new poll for The House has shown.

The polling, conducted by Redfield and Wilton on 25 May, shows 66 per cent of voters believe their financial situation has worsened in the last 12 months, while less than a quarter report seeing no change across the same period.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged his Cabinet colleagues to “go faster” to find fresh solutions to ease the strain on household budgets, while warning voters he could not “magic away” problems facing the economy.

The study will make for concerning reading for the government, with almost two-thirds of voters (65 per cent) saying they believed their financial situation would continue to worsen in the following year, including 66 per cent of those who voted for the Conservatives in 2019, and 71 per cent of Labour voters. Just 13 per cent of the public said their finances would improve during the same period, a figure that was marginally higher than the 12 per cent of Tory supporters who agreed with the statement.

The polling, conducted in the days prior to the announcement of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s new measures to help tackle the energy price hike, found just 11 per cent had not changed their spending habits in response to the rising costs. That compared to 29 per cent who had significantly changed their spending behaviours, up from a fifth in early February, and a further 39 per cent who had moderately changed, an increase of 10 percentage points over the same period.

Further polling on voting intentions undertaken by Redfield and Wilton on 29 May found Labour’s lead had narrowed slightly in the days following the publication of the Sue Gray report into Downing Street gatherings and the announcement of the energy firm levy, with support for Keir Starmer’s party at 43 per cent compared to the Conservatives’ 36 per cent.

Asked for The House poll about specific measures which had been taken in anticipation of rising energy bills, a majority (55 per cent) of those asked said they had already taken to keeping their heating off even when their home was cold, while 57 per cent had begun spending less in other areas in anticipation of price increases.

Almost half of Conservative voters said they had taken to wearing more clothes to offset heating costs, while 39 per cent said they had kept their heating at a lower level than usual in response to the changes.

The figures also appear to confirm that business growth could be hit by belt-tightening, with 52 per cent saying they had already cut back spending on entertainment and leisure activities in response to the squeeze, while 58 per cent said they had reduced outgoings by limiting visits to restaurants and ordering take-aways.

A majority of both Conservative (51 per cent) and Labour (65 per cent) voters also reported cutting back on heating in response to rising costs; in addition, 52 per cent of Tory backers and almost three-quarters of Labour voters (72 per cent) said they had reduced spending on groceries.

In a further worrying sign for the government, just under a third of voters blamed excessive spending by the government for rising inflation, compared to just 19 per cent who thought the war in Ukraine was responsible, followed by 18 per cent who suggested pandemic-related disruptions to the supply chain as the most likely cause of the rise.

The figures come as a growing number of Conservative MPs openly question the Chancellor’s decision to provide financial support for struggling households, warning it could lead to further increases in inflation rates.

Among Conservative voters, nearly a quarter agreed with those sentiments, saying they believed excess government spending was the most to blame for rising inflation, while 26 per cent said they believed the war in Ukraine had had the biggest impact. That compares to just 13 per cent of Labour backers who thought the war was the biggest aggravating factor, while most (42 per cent) gave government spending as the primary cause.

Asked the extent to which excessive government spending was at fault for rising inflation, 34 per cent of all voters said they significantly blamed the approach, including 22 per cent of those who voted Conservative at the last election. A further 33 per cent said the government’s spending plans were “fairly” to blame for the rise, with a further 32 per cent of Tory voters agreeing with the statement.

The polling suggests that recent criticism of the Bank of England by some senior Conservative MPs, including former cabinet ministers Liam Fox and Robert Jenrick, was not persuasive among their party’s supporters, with just 11 per cent saying decisions made by the central bank were the most likely cause of inflation.

The poll of 1,500 eligible voters across all regions and nations of the UK was carried out on 25 May.

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