Britons fear hard year ahead amid austerity cuts: poll

27th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Two-thirds of Britons believe the economy will fare badly in 2011 as harsh austerity cuts designed to tackle a record deficit begin to bite, a poll showed on Monday.

One in five also said they could see themselves being involved in demonstrations against the spending cuts introduced by the government.

The findings in the survey for The Times newspaper highlight fears of a bleak year ahead in Britain, where the recently formed Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government is seeking to make huge savings.

The government, formed after inconclusive polls in May, unveiled the harshest spending cuts for decades in October aimed at eliminating Britain's record 154.7-billion-pound (182-billion-euro, 238-billion-dollar) deficit.

Nearly half a million public sector jobs are expected to go over four years as a result of the savings with most government departments facing average spending cuts of 19 percent.

Monday's survey, carried out by pollster Populus, showed two-thirds of people believe they will have less spending money in the coming year and a high number of people expect to fall behind with some bills.

Thirty-eight percent of people quizzed predicted they would struggle to pay all their household bills on time, according to the poll.

The likelihood of widespread demonstrations was also underlined by the survey.

As well as around 20 percent saying they were prepared to take to the streets, seven out of 10 people said they believed public protests "can be effective."

Demonstrations against a hike in university tuition fees turned violent earlier this month, with thousands of students going on the rampage in London as the government narrowly voted in favour of raising the charges.

Populus interviewed 1,003 adults aged 18 and over by telephone between December 17 and 19 for the poll.

© 2010 AFP

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