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”.

News
people And here is why...
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?