A poll carried out as the UK went into coronavirus lockdown found Brits already concerned about the state of the NHS, public services and poverty. The poll of 3,000 people by Survation for Tax Justice UK revealed significant support for higher taxes on wealth and companies. The detailed results are available here.
We’re all coming together to help get through the devastation caused by coronavirus, but the crisis has exposed how threadbare our public services have become.
When we emerge from this, we need a response that’s along the lines of 1945, when we created the NHS, rather than a repeat of post-2008 austerity. Instead of looking for more cuts, the public favours policies that strengthen our precarious social safety net.
The poll found more than three quarters (79%) believe that NHS, policing and education were either the same (25%) or have become worse (53%) in the last 10 years; 67% said homelessness was worse; 78% feel that poverty was either the same or worse; while people think that foodbank use (64%) and inequality (63%) have both got worse.
The extra government spending introduced to deal with the crisis will largely be funded through borrowing and money creation. But as the crisis fades, a return to austerity would go down badly with the country. Higher taxes on wealth and companies would be a popular way to support more government spending and tackle rampant inequality.
74% of the public want to see the wealthy paying more tax - including 64% of Conservatives. Nearly two thirds of respondents (66%) believe that people who earn a living from their wealth should face the same tax rates as those who work. 69% support council tax reform to make it more closely reflect current house prices, so those with more expensive homes pay more. 63% support an annual wealth tax, including 57% of Conservatives. Only 24% don't want to pay more tax personally and a similar percentage (26%) of respondents want to see tax cuts for everyone.
The poll also found people in an uncompromising mood about companies and individuals who avoid tax, 87% think that the government should close tax loopholes for corporations and individuals, meanwhile 74% agree it’s not right that wealthy people can pay for accountants to find ways to avoid paying their share. 84% say tax avoidance by companies is morally wrong, even if legal, and a similar proportion (80%) take the same view of tax avoidance by individuals. 67% support higher taxes on companies’ profits, including 61% of Conservative voters.
People have had enough of the clever accounting that allows companies and wealthy individuals to pay less than they should. We need an economy that prioritises care. If we are to be resilient to future shocks, that means the strongest taking their fair share of the burden through higher taxes on wealth and companies.
Post-crisis tax changes could include higher taxes on wealth and a tax on super-sized corporate profits. Any reform would have to be accompanied by more resources to HMRC to administer the scheme.
This polling builds on our report “What’s wealth got to do with it", which was based on seven focus groups asking the public their attitudes on public spending, wealth and tax. It is available here. It is part of an ongoing project to understand public attitudes on tax.
The survey took place 17-23 March via an online panel and consisted of 3,010 UK residents aged 18+. It is part of an ongoing project by TJ-UK to test attitudes on public services, inequality and tax. Download the full results tables here.
This project was funded by the Friends Provident Foundation.
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