Despite chancellor George Osborne hailing an era of economic growth, four in ten consumers believe that they will be worse off following this week’s autumn statement.
The research from uSwitch also reveals that 65% of consumers are concerned about the country’s finances following the statement, while over half are worried about their own financial circumstances.
An Ipsos MORI poll taken shortly after the autumn statement showed that voters were more likely to agree with shadow chancellor, Ed Balls than Mr Osborne.
The poll asked whether they agreed with the shadow chancellor that George Osborne is in denial about the cost of living crisis or with the chancellor that his long term plan for economic recovery is working.
The public agreed with Mr Balls over Mr Osborne by 40% to 24%. Meanwhile, a quarter (27%) said they agree with neither.
Autumn Statement 2013 – Key points
In an eagerly anticipated speech by the chancellor, George Osborne gave an update on the country’s finances and outlined the government’s forthcoming economic agenda.
Amongst the seemingly obligatory facetious back and forth between government and opposition, Mr Osborne did reveal some key points in his autumn statement:
- The state pension will go up by £2.95 per week from April 2014
- The state pension age will increase from 65 to 68 in the mid-2030s and to 69 in the late 2040s
- Personal income tax allowance will increase to £10,000 from April 2014
- Married couples and civil partners will receive a tax break from April 2015, which will allow people to transfer £1,000 of their income tax allowance to their partner – at an estimated cost of £700 million a year
- Anyone unemployed for over six months will be forced to start a traineeship, take work experience or do a community work placement or lose their benefits
- Anyone aged 18 to 21 claiming benefits without basic English or Maths will be required to undertake training from day one or lose their benefits
- All England state school pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will get free school lunches from next September – at an estimated cost of £600 million a year
Cost of living denial
News that the state pension age will rise from 65 to 68 by mid-2030 received the most negative response from the public, according to uSwitch, with 59% against the decision.
Three quarters of Brits said they felt that care for the elderly should have been tackled, while 61% and 56% respectively wanted more done about payday loans and desperately low savings rates.
Mr Balls said the chancellor was in denial over the cost of living, and that for most people “living standards are not rising, they are falling year on year”.
Most alarmingly for the chancellor, 73% of Brits say the Chancellor does not understand the financial fears of ordinary people while over two thirds do not trust the Government to make the best decisions for their financial future.
Long term plan for recovery
Fortunately for the government, the numbers are looking positive, with the UK growing faster than any other major economy, but Mr Osborne believes the “job is not yet done”
Mr Osborne said: “We have held our nerve while those – who predicted there would be no growth until we turned the spending taps back on – have been proved comprehensively wrong.
“Thanks to the sacrifice and endeavour of the British people, I can today report the hard evidence that shows our economic plan is working.”
Commenting on the news, personal finance expert Michael Ossei said: “Despite containing some good news, the Autumn Statement has left most consumers deflated.
“The focus on the economy might be good for the financial health of the nation, but it has left individuals still feeling under the weather.”