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WA polling reveals a nation divided over Sunak’s surprise Budget

Words by:
October 29, 2021

WA Temperature Check: Budget Debrief 2021

After nearly two years of unprecedented upheaval, the Chancellor has proclaimed his Budget as heralding a “new era of optimism”.

Here at WA, we‘ve taken an early temperature check to see whether the public have bought into Sunak’s rhetoric and whether they are clear on how the Budget benefits them. On the night of the Chancellor’s statement, we asked 1,161 UK adults how they thought it had landed, where they would feel the benefits and whether the unexpected spending spree would help or hinder the Conservative Party at the next election.

What’s clear is that having weathered the storm of the pandemic, and with one eye on the next General Election, this was Sunak’s opportunity to re-establish his reputation as a fiscal conservative. Yet his statement took many by surprise. Bolstered by the revised Office for Budget Responsibility’s economic forecasts and with tax now at its highest since the 1950s, Sunak seems to have bought into the Prime Minister’s high-spend agenda to bolster the economy and support for the Conservative Party. With that said, 50% of the public aren’t comfortable with how this new wave of spending will be paid for and are unsure how the Chancellor will balance the books. Moreover, when asked to prioritise some key economic judgements, the public consistently err to the centre, opposing extreme economic policy.

In an effort to lay foundations for the country’s long-term economic prospects and Sunak’s own political ambitions, it is clear his four fiscal judgements will set the tone for years to come, with mitigating risk, supporting working families, meeting international aid obligations and a real-terms increase in Departmental spending forming the backbone of the Government’s post-pandemic fiscal policy.

Whilst it was initially easy to make a case for a brighter future in light of the Chancellor’s spending promises, the reality of rising living costs, higher taxes and high inflation make the eventual outcomes of Wednesday’s announcements less clear. Indeed, in the immediate aftermath, nearly half the nation said that the Budget would make no noticeable difference to their household income (43%).

Among the rest, those who expect their finances to be tighter outnumber those who have positive expectations by nearly two to one (31% vs. 18%).

In our report below, we present our key take-aways from the Budget and show what the British public think.

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