Sunday 05 September 2010

British Public Favours Cutting Government Debts
But Opposes Cuts to Education and Healthcare and for Pensioners

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A new BBC World Service poll today reveals that six in ten (60%) people in Britain favour “taking steps to reduce the government’s budget deficit and debt.”

However, when it comes to cutting spending on some of the largest government programs there is overwhelming opposition - 82 per cent oppose cutting spending on education and healthcare, 80 per cent oppose cutting spending on support for senior citizens, and 66 per cent oppose cuts to spending on the military.

Despite this apparent contradiction between public support for reducing the deficit, but strong opposition to cuts in specific programmes, many doubt that government currently spends tax money wisely. When asked what portion of their taxes they believe are used in ways that do not serve the ‘interests and values of British people’, people estimate on average that 46p in each pound is used in ways that are not in the common interest.

In comparison to the strong opposition to cuts to key services, opposition to increasing taxes is more modest with 52 per cent wanting no increase, and 44 per cent prepared to accept an increase.

Other findings from the survey suggest that the number of people in favour of giving financial support to troubled banks has waned since last year. While 55 per cent supported it in 2009 and 42 per cent opposed it, support has now dropped to 37 per cent, with 61 per cent opposed.

There is slim majority support for significant government stimulus spending, but support for this has fallen from 60 per cent to 54 per cent over the past year.

The telephone survey of 1,000 UK adults was conducted for the BBC between June 28th and July 5th, 2010 by the international polling firm GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. Full-sample results are considered accurate within +/- 3.1 per cent 19 times out of 20. Some questions were asked to a half sample.

The UK poll is part of a 26-country global study, to be released later this month, looking at how attitudes towards budget deficits compare across the world.

Steven Kull, Director of PIPA comments, “Although Britons generally accept the idea of debt-reduction, the coalition faces the problem of a lack of confidence in Westminster. As long as citizens think large amounts of public money are being spent in ways that do not serve the public interest, they are going to resist both increasing taxes and cuts to specific programs they do think serve them.”

GlobeScan Research Director Sam Mountford comments, “The recent controversy over UK bank bail-outs and MP expenses are likely to have contributed to this trust gap over the use of public money. Sixty-one percent of the UK public are now opposed to bailing out banks any further.”

For more details, please visit www.GlobeScan.com as well as the GlobeScan Insights blog at http://globescaninsights.blogspot.com.

Media Contacts

For media interviews with the participating pollsters, please contact:

Sam Mountford, Research Director
GlobeScan Incorporated, London
+44 20 7253 1447
(Mobile: +44 7854 132625)

Oliver Martin, Director Global Development
GlobeScan Incorporated, Toronto
+1 416 969 3073
(Mobile: +1 416 721 3544)

GlobeScan Incorporated is an international opinion research consultancy. We provide global organisations with evidence-based insight to help them set strategy and shape their communications. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments and NGOs trust GlobeScan for our unique expertise across reputation management, sustainability and stakeholder relations. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is ISO 9001-2008 quality certified and a signatory to the UN Global Compact.

Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in Toronto, London, San Francisco, and Washington DC. www.GlobeScan.com.

The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) of the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland, undertakes research on attitudes in publics around the world on a variety of international issues and manages the international research project WorldPublicOpinion.org.

BBC World Service is an international multimedia broadcaster delivering 32 language and regional services. It uses multiple platforms to reach its weekly audience of 188 million globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite, and cable channels. It has around 2,000 partner radio stations which take BBC content, and numerous partnerships supplying content to mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices. Its news sites include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. For more information, visit bbcworldservice.com. To find out more about the BBC’s English language offerings and subscribe to a free e-newsletter, visit bbcworldservice.com/schedules.