Enthusiasm for more public spending low

Ben Southwood
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SUPPORT for increased government spending remained low in 2011 as the country began to slip into double-dip recession, despite an increase compared with 2010, new research revealed today.

Only 36 per cent of respondents to the 29th British Social Attitudes survey said they supported increased government spending - if it meant higher taxes - up from 31 per cent last year, but well down on the all-time high of 63 per cent.

Though the uptick may worry chancellor George Osborne, 54 per cent support the current spending plans, while six per cent say taxes and spending should be cut further than they have been so far.

But Alison Park, who codirected the study, pointed out that the bulk of the cuts are planned for the next few years - relatively few have come in so far. "If this is how people are reacting at this quite early stage it suggests things could get far worse for the government in the next few years," Park said.

The research also revealed a shift in attitudes toward benefit claimants. Just 30 per cent said more should be spent on welfare, and 62 per cent said unemployment benefits were too high and discourage work, up from 54 per cent the year before.