61% 'fear impact of austerity cuts'

Smashed piggy bankPublic opinions on the Government's austerity programme may have reached a tipping point, with families worried that they will start feeling the pain over the coming year, according to a poll.

The Austerity Tracker Poll for the RSA found more than half of those questioned (59%) thought their families had felt little or no impact from the cuts so far.

But some 61% of those questioned by pollsters Ipsos Mori believed they would be affected over the coming 12 months. Almost half (48%) said the Government had made the wrong decisions about where the cuts should be made.

When asked if they are worried that Government and public services will do too little to help people in the years ahead, 69% agreed and only 9% disagreed.

The RSA commissioned the poll ahead of George Osborne's December 5 Autumn Statement, in which the Chancellor is expected to announce more reductions in spending on public services as part of his effort to eliminate the state deficit.

The poll appears to suggest that, while many voters have taken on board the Government's argument that the state has been doing too much and should scale back its activities, few are prepared to accept a reduction in the services they personally receive.

Some 44% agreed that people should take more responsibility for their own lives and expect less from the state, against 24% who disagreed.

But when asked whether spending on public services should be cut to pay down national debt, just 35% agreed, against 39% who disagreed. Only 28% said they were personally happy to accept less from public services as the price of paying down debt.

Monday's poll revealed that a majority of voters believe that the Government is further down the austerity path than is in fact the case, with 51% saying that more than a fifth of the cuts have already been carried out.

In fact, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has calculated that only 12% of the Government's planned cuts to public services will have been implemented by end of 2012, with a further 88% to come in the years ahead.