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Public demand “fundamental reform” of UK economy finds new poll for IPPR

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IPPR/YouGov poll finds majority across party and Brexit divides in favour of significant changes to how the UK economy is run

A poll commissioned by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and conducted by YouGov has found overwhelming public support for a fundamental change in how the British economy is run, ahead of a general election that experts are suggesting could be a sea-change moment British political history – comparable to the elections of 1945 and 1979.

Sixty percent of the British public want to see the next government introduce significant changes to how the British economy is run, with 29 per cent saying the economy needs to change “radically”. No matter which side people found themselves on in the Brexit referendum the desire for change is strong, with just 2 per cent of respondents wanting to see the status quo continue. Forty percent of Remain voters want to see a “radical” change to the British economy.

There is profound public scepticism about Britain’s economic settlement across all political parties, with 59 per cent of all respondents believing the economy mainly works in the interests of people with high incomes or of big companies, and 56 per cent thinking the gap between wealthy and the rest of the population has widened too much—including 40 per cent of Conservative supporters.

After nearly a decade, public support for austerity appears to have evaporated with 61 per cent of the public saying cuts to spending have damaged vital public services—a viewed shared by a majority of Conservative voters as well as supporters of other parties.

There is huge support for a major shakeup in taxation. Just 11 per cent of people support the status quo where income from work is taxed more highly than capital gains or share dividends. Nearly two-thirds support a boost to taxes on capital gains from wealth —with 34 per cent supporting equalising capital gains taxes with income taxes, and 28 per cent supporting higher rates for capital gains than for income tax.  There is also strong support for raising taxes on those earning over £100,000 a year (61 per cent).

Public confidence in the finance sector is low, with 57 per cent of people thinking more regulation is required of banks and other financial companies. The same number in a separate question think that companies “focus on short-term profits over the interests of the economy as a whole.”  But support for government investment in measures to address climate change, including renewable energy and home insulation, is very high, at 64% support.

Commenting on the poll findings, Tom Kibasi, who founded and chaired the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice, said:

“As all parties put the finishing touches to their manifestos, the message from the public is clear: the economy needs fundamental reform, just as the IPPR proposed in its landmark Commission on Economic Justice.

The public recognise that the economy isn’t working for ordinary people and needs a major overhaul so that it achieves prosperity and justice together. That means boosting investment in areas such as green technology, giving Britain a pay rise by increasing the minimum wage, and reforming the busted tax system to make it much fairer.”

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