Most Britons think cuts will hit poor hardest: polls

26th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The majority of Britons think sweeping spending cuts unveiled last week will hit the poor hardest, two polls showed Tuesday, in a blow to the government's effort to convince the public the measures are fair.

A survey by pollster ICM for newspaper The Guardian found that 52 percent of those quizzed believe the cuts will be unfair while 44 percent agree that the government has done a good job of spreading the pain evenly.

This view was echoed in a Populus poll for The Times, in which 58 percent of people surveyed said they thought the cuts were unfair.

George Osborne, finance minister in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, last Wednesday unveiled the cuts that will cost 490,000 jobs, slash government budgets by around a fifth and take the axe to the welfare state.

He has insisted they are "fair choices" and will hit the rich hardest.

But a leading economic think-tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, warned cuts to the benefit system would on average have a greater effect on the poor than on the wealthy.

Tuesday's polls meanwhile gave conflicting views on which of the country's political parties was enjoying greater popularity.

The Populus survey put the main opposition Labour party just in the lead on 38 percent, one point ahead of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives.

But the ICM poll showed Labour lagging behind, on 36 percent compared to the Conservatives' 39 percent.

In the Guardian poll, ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,002 adults aged over 18 by telephone on October 22-24.

In the Times poll, Populus interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults aged over 18 by telephone on October 22 and 24.

© 2010 AFP

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