The vast majority of business directors want chancellor George Osborne to hold his nerve on budget deficit reduction when he delivers the Autumn Statement this week, new survey figures reveal this morning, while the general public remains split on the issue.
The Institute of Directors (IOD), a business group, said 85 per cent of 1,211 members it surveyed backed Osborne’s plan to run a budget surplus by the 2019-20 financial year.
The public has less conviction with just 51 per cent in favour of eliminating the budget deficit by 2019-20, according to a survey of just over 2,000 people from financial services giant PWC. The budget deficit for the current financial year – which ends in March – is projected by the Office for Budget Responsibility to come in at just under £70bn.
“The Chancellor can’t go on a spending spree, but he must use this Autumn Statement to spell out when he will deliver on the tax cuts his party promised in their election manifesto,” said IOD director general Simon Walker.
“The government has said it will increase the personal allowance, raise the 40p threshold and align national insurance with income tax. Setting out how they plan to do this would help to demonstrate the gain, after the pain of spending cuts,” walker said.
PWC’s survey found that while a slight majority of the public want the budget deficit down, 61 per cent want higher spending on infrastructure including roads, rail, broadband and housing.
Tim Hallett, leader of PWC’s government and public sector practice, said Osborne faced “a tricky task next week...to balance the need for short term savings across government while also investing for the longer term.”
The survey also found that 38 per cent of people do not know what the Autumn Statement is and 29 per cent did not believe it was relevant to them.