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Majority in Britain back ‘more tax, more spend’

22 September 2022

A majority of people in Britain are still in favour of higher taxation and government spending, according to the latest British Social Attitudes survey by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).

Support for increased taxation and spending is relatively high among both Conservative and Labour supporters.

Meanwhile, concern about inequality and support for distributing income from the better off to those who are less well-off has increased following the pandemic.

In addition, the public remains relatively pro-welfare in our most recent survey, sustaining a shift in attitudes that occurred in the years before the pandemic.

  • 52% say government should increase taxes and spend more on health, education and social benefits, similar to the 50% recorded in 2020 and 53% recorded in 2019.
  • 46% of Conservative supporters and 61% of Labour supporters say government should increase taxes and spending.
  • Around half (49%) agree that government should redistribute income from the better off to those who are less well off, an increase from 39% in 2019.
  • Around a quarter (27%) disagree that government should redistribute income from the better off to those who are less well off, the same proportion as in 2019.
  • Two-thirds (67%) agree that ordinary working people do not get their fair share of the nation’s wealth, up ten percentage points since 2019.
  • As in 2019, opinion remains evenly divided on whether people would ‘stand on their own two feet if welfare benefits weren’t so generous’. In our latest survey, 39% agree with this statement while 38% disagree. Before 2019, more people agreed than disagreed.

Gillian Prior, Deputy Chief Executive at NatCen, said: “Our annual survey suggests the public faces the ‘cost of living crisis’ with as much appetite for increased government spending as it had during the pandemic. Despite the marked increase in public expenditure during the pandemic, support for increased taxation and spending is relatively high, even among Conservative supporters.

Recognition of inequalities in Britain is also at a level not seen since the 1990s, with people more willing than they were a decade ago for government to redistribute income from the better off to the less well off.”

ENDS

For more information please contact:

Oliver Paynel, Communications Manager
National Centre for Social Research
t: 0207 549 9550, m: 07734 960 071, e: oliver.paynel@natcen.ac.uk

Katie Crabb, Head of Marketing and Communications
National Centre for Social Research
t: 0207 549 8504, e: katie.crabb@natcen.ac.uk

Notes to editors

1. British Social Attitudes (BSA): the 39th Report will be published on 22nd September 2022 at www.bsa.natcen.ac.uk. Advance copies of chapters from the report available on request. The editors are Sarah Butt, Elizabeth Clery and John Curtice. The views expressed in the report are those of the authors and editors alone.

2. The full list of chapters in this year’s report: Taxation, welfare and inequality; Constitutional reform; Culture Wars; Regional differences in values; Environment and climate change; Disabled people at work; NHS and social care; The NHS in Scotland and England.

3. NatCen’s British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey has been conducted annually since 1983. It is the longest-running measure of public opinion in Britain, providing authoritative data on a range of social and political issues. Each year the survey asks around people what it's like to live in Britain and what they think about how Britain is run. Since 1983 more than 115,000 people have taken part in the survey.

4. The 2021 BSA survey consisted of 6,250 interviews with a representative, random sample of adults in Britain and was conducted between 16 September and 31 October 2021.

5. This year’s BSA survey was completed online by a representative sample of respondents who were invited at random by post. There was an option to be interviewed by phone if preferred. This is the same design as used in the 2020 BSA. Prior to 2020 BSA was a face-to-face survey, but this was changed as a result of the public health measures introduced in the wake of the pandemic.

6. Respondents are classified as identifying with a particular political party on one of three counts: if they consider themselves supporters of that party; closer to it than to others; or more likely to support it in the event of a general election.