Majority of voters back welfare boost, survey finds

Majority of voters back calls for more financial support for low-income households.

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The energy crisis is causing a shift in public opinion, with a majority of voters now favouring more substantial targeted financial assistance for financially suffering households, according to a survey released today.

According to a new survey by Public First, six in ten voters want targeted assistance for low-income households to aid with the expense of not only electricity but also other necessities such as food and water.

The survey results are expected to raise the pressure on elected officials to utilise the Universal Credit welfare system to provide more public funds to suffering households.

Citizens Advice, the Social Market Foundation think tank, and Public First, a research firm, released the information as part of a collaborative initiative examining the long-term prospects of energy bill assistance.

The data are released as lawmakers of all parties formulate strategies to combat record-high energy costs and double-digit inflation.

In a late-July 2012 survey of 2012 individuals, a resounding majority (51% vs. 27%) indicated that assistance with the expense of living should be targeted rather than general.

The public’s desire for assistance with water and food costs is nearly as great as its desire to assist struggling households with energy costs. 62% of voters believe that low-income households should receive particular energy assistance.

And nearly equal majorities support assistance with water costs (59%) and food expenses (58%).

The findings, according to the researchers, indicate that public opinion is shifting in favour of income-targeted policies to assist families with the broader cost-of-living challenge, rather than just energy expenses.

In addition, conservative backers voiced unambiguous support for targeted assistance for struggling households with all of their mounting expenditures.

54% of Conservative voters in 2019 support targeted assistance for energy costs, compared to 25% who are against. 46% of Tory supporters supported payment assistance with food (34% opposed) and 49% supported payment assistance with water (34% opposed).

Polling indicates that the public overwhelmingly supports energy measures that control prices or provide discounts to those in financial hardship. In a survey, 62% of the public and 61% of Conservative voters supported “a discount on energy bills.”

In addition, the survey found overwhelming support across all demographic categories for a substantial increase in government assistance for insulating homes and implementing other energy efficiency measures for those in need. 49% of the general population desires free energy efficiency measures. 45 percent of Conservative voters supported this programme.

Daisy Powell-Chandler of Public First said: “These numbers suggest that, as the crunch hits this autumn, support will swing further behind a more broad-based support for households struggling to cope with multiple higher costs.

“Interventions using Universal Credit to support the finances of those on low incomes or other targeted payments are likely to find solid support among the public – including Conservative voters – so would-be prime ministers should study these results carefully.”

James Kirkup of the Social Market Foundation said: “After Britain’s last economic crisis, political rhetoric and public attitudes on welfare hardened and some politicians sadly resorted to labelling welfare recipients ‘shirkers’.

“This research shows how much has changed. The scale of the energy bills crisis and the resulting pressure on the cost of living is shifting public opinion in favour of more support for those in need.

“The community spirit revealed in the pandemic clearly holds strong in today’s opinions on the need for targeted help for those in need.

“Politicians of all parties should make sure they keep pace with today’s public attitudes on welfare and the cost of living instead of living in the past.”

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