Most Britons think cuts will hit poor hardest: poll

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The majority of Britons think sweeping spending cuts unveiled last week will hit the poor hardest, a poll showed on Tuesday, in a blow to the government's claims that the austerity measures are fair.

The 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.

In the poll, some 48 percent said they thought the cuts went too far, while 36 percent thought the balance was right and eight percent wanted the cuts to go further.

In July, a total of 55 percent of people thought the balance was right or the cuts should go further, according to the paper.

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.

For Tuesday's poll, ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,002 adults aged over 18 by telephone on October 22-24.

© 2010 AFP

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