Britons trust ministers on cuts, don't expect fairness: poll

17th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Almost half of Britons think that major cuts in public spending due to be unveiled this week will be unfair but they trust ministers more than the opposition to fix the economy, a poll revealed Sunday.

Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government is due to unveil plans on Wednesday to cut 83 billion pounds (130 billion dollars, 95 billion euros) in government expenditure by 2014-15 to help pay off a record deficit.

A ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror newspapers revealed that despite Cameron's vow that the cuts would be fairly distributed, just 30 percent expected them to be "fair" and 43 percent did not.

However, 45 percent of respondents said they trusted Cameron and his finance minister George Osborne to steer the economy out of recession, compared to 23 percent who trusted opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband and his team.

Details of where the axe will fall in Wednesday's spending review began to emerge this weekend, with some ministries set to suffer far more than others.

The health and international aid budgets are exempt from the cuts, and reports suggest the defence ministry will have to reduce spending by about eight percent -- a tough job but one that could have been much worse.

By contrast, one newspaper report suggested the justice ministry would have to close more than 150 courts and send fewer peope to jail as it struggles to find savings of 30 percent.

Major cuts to the welfare budget are also expected, but the ComRes poll suggests people do not accept Cameron's promise to protect the most vulnerable.

Some 56 percent believed the welfare changes would hit the elderly and the poorest in society, compared to 28 percent who said they would not.

Although Osborne says the cuts are "unavoidable", there is little stomach for the inevitable job cuts -- 600,000 over the next six years, according to government estimates.

Just 30 percent believed sacking thousands of people was a price worth paying to balance the books, compared to 47 percent who disagreed.

Instead, there was support for increasing taxes to pay off the deficit -- 54 percent thought the top 50 percent rate of income tax should be increased to 60 percent.

ComRes interviewed 2,009 adults between Wednesday and Friday.

© 2010 AFP

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