Majority of Brits back tax hikes and increased spending, survey finds

The majority of Britons favor higher taxes and social spending, while nearly half support redistributing income to those less well-off, according to an annual survey of public attitudes.

Some 52% of respondents said the government should raise taxes and spend more on health, education and social benefits, according to a National Center for Social Research study released Thursday.

The level is up 2 percentage points from a year earlier and 36% from a decade ago, reflecting a shift in public concern over social inequality as the country faces a crisis of the cost of living.

Gillian Prior, deputy chief executive of NatCen, a research institute, said: “Our annual survey suggests that the public is facing the ‘cost of living crisis’ with as much appetite for increased public spending as during the pandemic.”

“Recognition of inequality in Britain is at a level not seen since the 1990s, with people more willing than a decade ago for the government to redistribute income from the better off to the less well off,” said he added.

The findings come ahead of the mini-budget to be released on Friday, in which new Prime Minister Liz Truss is expected to announce a package of tax cuts for wealthy and profitable businesses.

The measures will likely include a reduction in National Insurance and the cancellation of a planned rise in corporate tax, intended to boost growth to help the country manage rising inflation and energy bills.

In August, the inflation rate in the UK was 9.9%, its highest rate for nearly 40 years.

This week Truss froze the household energy cap at £2,500 a year for the next two years to protect consumers from rising energy costs. She also promised to focus on “increasing the size of the pie”, rather than redistributing income to rebuild the economy.

The survey was based on more than 6,200 responses collected between September 16 and October 31 across Britain.

The survey found that 49% of people think the government should redistribute income from the better off to those with less means – a rise of 10 percentage points from 2019 and the highest level since 1994.

Support for more interventions reflects a shift in national views on wellbeing. More than two-thirds believe that ordinary workers are not getting their fair share of the country’s wealth – the highest proportion since 1991 and up ten percentage points since 2019.

The annual public attitude survey collected opinions on a range of topics. Most people were in favor of introducing ‘proportional representation’ – the voting system whereby candidates win seats based on a proportion of the votes cast – rather than retaining the current ‘first in a row’ “.

Public satisfaction with health services fell to its lowest level in 25 years, as a quarter of people said they had not received the medical treatment they needed in the past year.

The report also revealed that support in Scotland for Scottish independence and in Northern Ireland for Irish reunification has increased in recent years.

NatCen senior researcher Sir John Curtice said the findings suggest ‘why Britain might look divided, shaken and ‘broken’.”