Businessmen lack faith in Labour, new poll shows

Business leaders say they support immediate cuts in public spending

Businessmen want immediate cuts in public spending and believe the Conservatives have better economic policies than Labour, according to an eve-of-Budget survey for
The Independent.

The ComRes poll of 185 business leaders will increase the pressure on Alistair Darling to announce detailed cuts in next week’s Budget. Only 28 per cent support the Chancellor’s view that immediate cuts would jeopardise economic recovery, while 72 per cent endorse the Tory Opposition’s call for cuts to start this year to reduce Britain’s £178bn public deficit.

However, when asked whether they would support eight specific cuts or tax rises, businessmen backed only one idea – cutting the social security budget. They opposed a rise in income tax and VAT, putting VAT on food, and reduced spending on the NHS, education and defence.

That finding will give Labour a crumb of comfort. The Tories plan to spell out some proposed cuts after the Budget and before the general election, despite previous announcements of cuts having harmed the party’s ratings in the polls.

By a big margin, business leaders believe the Tories have both the clearest and the best economic programme. 58 per cent say David Cameron’s party has the best policies, with only 13 per cent saying Labour, and 45 per cent think the Tories have the clearest policies, with just 15 per cent saying Labour.

A majority (69 per cent) of business leaders believe a hung parliament with no party enjoying an overall majority would be bad for the economy generally; only 7 per cent say it would be good and 24 per cent neither good nor bad. However, they are less worried about the impact on their own company.

There is little sign of “green shoots” taking hold. The proportion of businessmen who detect signs of economic recovery has risen only slightly in the past month, from 47 to 49 per cent.

According to ComRes, businessmen have little confidence in Mr Darling as he prepares to present his Budget. Only 21 per cent say they are confident in his ability, only half as many (42 per cent) who have confidence in George Osborne, the shadow Chancellor. He also outscores Mr Darling on understanding business (by 64 to 27 per cent).

However, the poll also reflects doubts in the business world about Mr Osborne’s credentials.Seventy-eight per cent of those polled believe he lacks experience and 46 per cent say he is out of his depth.

Mr Cameron (55 per cent) enjoys a higher “confidence rating” among business leaders than Mr Osborne. So do Kenneth Clarke, the shadow Business Secretary and former Chancellor (66 per cent) and Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats’ Treasury spokesman (57 per cent). Only 19 per cent of them have confidence in Mr Brown, 25 per cent in the Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, and 20 per cent in the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

Mr Darling, who has shelved a government-wide spending review until the autumn, came under further pressure yesterday to outline specific cuts in the Budget. The European Commission said in a report that “the absence of detailed departmental spending limits is a source of uncertainty”. It also suggested that the Treasury’s forecasts of economic growth may prove optimistic.

Mr Darling received conflicting advice in last-minute submissions from trade unions and business groups. The TUC warned the economy was “far too fragile” to withstand spending cuts and said there was still a “huge risk” of a double dip recession. But the British Chambers of Commerce called for a clear deficit reduction plan, and urged him to scrap a planned 1 per cent rise in employer national insurance contributions due to take effect in a year’s time, branding it a “tax on jobs”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Embedded Linux Engineer - C / C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A well funded smart home compan...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This accountancy firm have an e...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Developer / Mobile Apps / Java / C# / HTML 5 / JS

£17000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Mobile Application Devel...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?