Poll: Osborne's plan to scrap 50p tax is unfair
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Tuesday 06 September 2011
George Osborne's plan to scrap the 50p top rate of income tax is seen as unfair by voters across the political spectrum, according to a ComRes survey for The Independent.
Most people (57 per cent) agree that abolishing the 50p rate would show we are not "all in it together" – as the Chancellor has claimed when defending the Government's spending cuts. This view is shared by 67 per cent of Liberal Democrat supporters, 64 per cent of Labour supporters and 54 per cent of Conservative supporters. Overall, only 31 per cent disagree.
The finding will increase the fears among some allies of David Cameron that Mr Osborne's proposal to cut the tax bills of the 300,000 top earners could alienate millions of others facing a squeeze in their living standards.
But the poll also suggests Mr Osborne might be able to persuade some of the doubters to support scrapping the 50p rate, which applies to earnings above £150,000 a year. Some 56 per cent of people believe its abolition would encourage entrepreneurs to stay in Britain and stimulate growth, while 34 per cent disagree.
There is backing across the spectrum for Liberal Democrat calls for new taxes to be imposed on wealth such as property, rather than income, to ensure the very rich pay their fair share. Some 71 per cent agree with this proposal – including 66 per cent of Conservative voters – while 24 per cent disagree.
The strong public support will encourage Nick Clegg's party to press for wealth taxes such as its proposed "mansion tax" on homes worth more than £2m. According to ComRes, 63 per cent believe that tax cuts for businesses should be given more priority than for individuals to boost growth, while 27 per cent disagree.
Tory voters agree overwhelmingly (74 per cent) but this view is also endorsed by a majority of those who support the Liberal Democrats (68 per cent) and Labour (64 per cent). Labour's lead over the Tories has dropped from two points to one since the last ComRes survey for The Independent on Sunday published on 21 August. The current figures are Labour 38 per cent (down two points), Tories 37 per cent (down one), Lib Dems 11 per cent (no change) and other parties 14 per cent (up three).
These figures would give Labour a majority of eight seats if repeated at the next general election, with the Li Dems reduced to just 15 seats on a uniform swing. Only 47 per cent of people who voted Lib Dem last year say they would support the party now.
ComRes telephoned 1,000 adults on 2 to 4 September for the survey.
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