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UK public unconvinced any party can solve living standards challenge

More than half of people say they are more likely to vote for a political party which could improve their living standards but there is scepticism that any of the main parties know how to do this, according to a poll for the Resolution Foundation.

The poll, published by the independent think tank and conducted by YouGov, is part of a long-term project looking at the importance of living standards in the 2015 General Election.

The new findings show 51% say that if a political party convinced them it could improve the living standards of people like them they would be more likely to vote that way (15% very likely and 36% quite likely). Yet none of the parties are seen as having strong ideas to raise living standards. Respondents were offered a menu of eight measures which could improve living standards and, for each party in turn, asked to choose one or two on which it has good ideas. For each party, around 4 in 10 people felt they had no good ideas at all – 43% said this was true of the Conservatives, 39% for Labour and 47% for the Liberal Democrats.

Almost half of people (46%) chose a reduction in household bills as the single measure that would most help them financially. Yet only a handful of people think any of the main parties have good ideas to achieve this – just 4% say the Conservatives do, 5% Labour and 3% the Liberal Democrats.

Next most popular was a reduction in taxes for low and middle income households – named by almost four in 10 (36%) as the thing that would help them most. Here only 13% feel the Conservatives have good ideas, 7% the Liberal Democrats and 6% Labour.

After this came measures that would ensure that wages rise in line with economic growth, chosen by nearly one in three (30%). Here just 11% feel Labour has good ideas, 6% the Conservatives and 4% the Liberal Democrats.

The poll’s other findings include:

* Labour are seen as strongest on raising the wages of low-paid workers without damaging the economy – 14% of the public think they have good ideas in this area (rising to 28% among Labour voters);

* No party scores well on ensuring affordable and high-quality childcare, but it is noticeable that among their own supporters the Liberal Democrats score comparatively well on this with one in five Liberal Democrat supporters identifying this as an area where the party has good ideas (19%) compared to an equivalent figure of just 5% among Labour voters. Liberal Democrats also score comparatively well among their own supporters in relation to reducing taxes for those on low and middle incomes (23% think they have good ideas on this compared to just 7% among all voters);

* The Conservatives are seen as strongest on getting the right level of welfare benefits to those who need help. Almost one in four people (23%) thought they had good ideas in this area, including almost half of Conservative supporters (49%) and more than one in four Liberal Democrat supporters (28%)

* Scepticism about the parties’ policies on living standards is highest among older voters. Of those aged 60 and over, at least half (49% Conservative, 51% Labour, 58% Liberal Democrat) do not think the parties have good ideas in any of the areas. This compares to around one in four of voters aged 18-24 (23% Labour and 30% Conservatives and Liberal Democrats). The youngest voters are more likely to say they don’t know if a party has good ideas;

* People in the North are most likely to vote for a party that could improve their living standards – six in 10 compared to around half in all other regions

Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, said: “None of the parties has yet convinced voters that it has the answers on living standards. Our polling reinforces what a towering election issue this will be but also the huge task facing each of the parties over the next 18 months if they want to persuade voters that they can make a meaningful difference to their disposable incomes. It’s striking that in a number of key policy areas the parties have yet to convince their own supporters they have any good ideas.

“Despite this scepticism about the policy agenda of the main parties there has been a marked reduction over recent months in the number of voters who expect to be worse off in 2015 than they are today. Voters remain gloomy about their prospects, but less so than before. If that improving mood continues it could have major implications for the next election.”


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