New polling from the TaxPayers' Alliance shows tax cuts are key to winning working class votes

Embargoed: 00:01 Tuesday 5th November

  • 6 in 10 C2DE voters strongly favour cutting the basic rate of income tax down to 15p in the pound, down from 20p now.
  • More than three quarters of those polled supported a cap on council tax rises. 
  • C2DE voters are more than twice as likely as ABC1 voters to back cutting corporation tax to 12.5 per cent.
  • A majority, at 68 per cent of C2DE voters, backed abolishing the BBC licence fee, compared to 40 per cent amongst ABC1 voters, one of the biggest disparities found between the two groups.
  • There was close alignment between the two groups on support for reforming stamp duty, so that only those moving to homes worth over £1 million should pay, as well as creating an exemption on commercial properties worth up to £250,000 to encourage people to start new businesses.  
  • On government spending, voters support reforms to make government more open, with around 6 in 10 agreeing that we should move more central government offices and jobs outside of London, and almost three quarters of C2DE voters believing that all civil service jobs should be open to applicants without a university degree.

 

Landmark national polling data, commissioned by the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) and conducted this summer, has found that working class voters back bold tax cuts, both on household income and on British businesses. 

With an election on the horizon, the data reveals that around 6 in 10 voters on lower incomes strongly favour cutting the basic rate of income tax down to 15p in the pound, compared to 46 per cent of middle class voters who back the idea. Council tax - which had risen at an average of 4.5 per cent in England, and in every local authority in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in April 2019 - tops the poll, with 83 per cent of working class voters demanding a cap on council tax rises. 

Despite a widespread belief in Westminster that working class voters are 'anti big business', in fact they are more than twice as likely as professional voters to back cutting corporation tax to 12.5 per cent, the same level as Ireland's. Focus groups from Walsall, Stoke and Bristol showed that working class voters are ahead of politicians and understand the importance of businesses as big employers. 

Working class voters are particularly positive towards local shops and new businesses, with around 7 in 10 believing that local authorities should reduce business rates on high street shops. The poll showed that these voters - many of whom are heavily Eurosceptic swing voters likely to decide the outcome of the next election - are supportive of policies aimed to help both local firms and startups, as well as big national employers, given the benefits they bring to their towns and to Britain. 

In a blow to the main political parties, who are committed to continuing the BBC licence fee as it stands, the poll also shows significant support for scrapping the TV tax, with 68 per cent of working class voters backing abolition. This was a full 28 per cent higher than support among middle class voters, one of the biggest disparities found between the two groups.   

There was also considerable agreement across the two groups, with close alignment on support for reforming stamp duty, so that only those moving to homes worth over £1 million should pay, as well as creating an exemption on commercial properties worth up to £250,000 to encourage people to start new businesses. With tax becoming an increasingly important issue for working class voters, the polling showed that they want a fairer tax system in which ordinary families and hard work are rewarded. 

The TaxPayers' Alliance is calling on all political parties to adopt a series of tangible, radical and immediate tax cutting policies to win the support of these key working class swing voters in the coming general election. 

 

Key findings

On household income:

"When you’ve had wage freezes for so many years or minimal increases, something like an income tax cut would be great for people", middle-aged man, Bristol North West

"[A cut in the basic rate] would bring a lot of people out of poverty", middle-aged woman, Stoke North

Around 6 in 10 C2DE voters strongly favour cutting the basic rate of income tax down to 15p in the pound, down from 20p now.

Almost 70 per cent of those polled support linking tax thresholds to inflation or wage growth, so people don’t move into new bands accidentally. 

 

Total

ABC1

C2DE

C2DE  Swing

Tax thresholds should be linked to inflation or wage growth, so people don't move into new bands accidentally  

69%

71%

68%

69%

A higher 50p tax rate band should be introduced for those earning £80,000 a year or more  

52%

46%

60%

59%

The basic rate of income tax should be cut to 15p in the pound, down from 20p now  

52%

46%

59%

65%

There should be a National Insurance rebate every five years for people who don't claim Jobseekers' Allowance

44%

39%

50%

53%

We should cut taxes on the self-employed and small businesses, like National Insurance and income tax on dividend payments  

37%

29%

47%

45%

"Dividend payments" – which company directors can use to pay themselves – should have lower taxes applied to them, to encourage people to set up businesses and work hard to make them successful  

-12%

-17%

-6%

-7%

The top rate of tax should be reduced to 40p in the pound for higher earners  

-21%

-24%

-18%

-17%

 

On council tax:

"It’s the one tax you really notice. You have to pay it every month. And you get nothing for it", middle-aged man, Walsall

"It keeps going up, and we get less and less services," older woman, Stoke North

More than three quarters of those polled supported a cap on council tax rises. Support for this is 13 per cent higher amongst C2DE voters, the most popular policy option tested.

Around 8 in 10 voters believe local authorities should provide residents with an annual tax summary, breaking down how council tax and business rates are spent. 

 

Total

ABC1

C2DE

C2DE Swing

Local authorities should provide residents with an annual tax summary, breaking down how council tax and business rates are spent by local authorities

79%

79%

79%

79%

Council tax rises should be capped

76%

70%

83%

84%

There should be council tax rebates for those businesses and families that recycle more

61%

60%

63%

62%

Local authorities should introduce "tourism taxes" where tourists pay a small charge to stay in a town or city

-1%

3%

-6%

-6%

Local authorities should make university students pay council tax in the cities they live and study in

-18%

-23%

-12%

-4%

 

On business taxes:

"I think businesses are the one that need the help most. Why would you tax a business more? They need less tax because ultimately that means they can hire more people or pay more in wages. Just taxing them more doesn’t help at all", middle-aged man, Bristol North West

"Rates are just so high aren’t they? Everyone is shopping online these days and the shops on the high street can’t compete. Cutting their rates would help that no end", middle-aged woman, Bristol North West

C2DE voters are more than twice as likely as ABC1 voters to back cutting corporation tax to 12.5 per cent, the same level as Ireland’s. 

Around 7 in 10 C2DE voters believe that local authorities should reduce business rates on high street shops.

Around 6 in 10 C2DE voters would like to see employers' PAYE taxes reduced to encourage businesses to hire more people.

More than half of all respondents supported the policy that start-up new businesses should pay no corporation tax for the first three years.  

 

 

Total

ABC1

C2DE

C2DE Swing

"Opportunity Zones" should be created in areas of economic deprivation, with new tax incentives introduced to encourage business growth  

69%

71%

66%

64%

Local authorities should reduce business rates on high street shops

67%

66%

69%

72%

Start-up new businesses should pay no corporation tax for the first three years  

56%

53%

60%

61%

There should be a Stamp Duty exemption on commercial properties worth up to £250,000 to encourage people to start new businesses (e.g. small shops, cafes etc.)  

51%

50%

52%

56%

Employers' PAYE taxes should be reduced to encourage businesses to hire more people  

48%

39%

59%

61%

Corporation tax should be reduced from 19% to 12.5%, the same level as Ireland's  

18%

12%

26%

36%

There should be a road tax exemption for 5 years for new small commercial vehicles purchased by sole traders  

12%

2%

22%

25%



On housing: 

"[Tax] is something that you never seem to be able to get away from. There’s always something else whether it’s fuel or food or going on holiday. It seems a bit much at times", middle-aged woman, Bristol North West

Almost half of those polled believed we should reform stamp duty so only those moving to homes worth more than £1 million have to pay. 

C2DE voters opposed a new tax on the profit homeowners make when selling their main home.     

 

 

Total

ABC1

C2DE

C2DE Swing

Local authorities should be given more funds from Central Government to build more council housing

57%

53%

63%

62%

There should be much higher taxes on those that own second homes  

54%

51%

57%

64%

We should reform stamp duty so only those moving to homes worth more than £1m have to pay  

49%

50%

48%

51%

There should be a new tax on the profit homeowners make when selling their main home  

-43%

-52%

-34%

-36%



On the cost of living: 

"[If abolishing the licence fee meant the end of the BBC] I’d just watch Sky News", respondent in Stoke North

"Petrol is too expensive and the amount of tax is ludicrous. But will they ever actually do it?", middle-aged woman, Walsall

A majority of 68 per cent of C2DE voters backed abolishing the BBC licence fee, compared to 40 per cent amongst ABC1 voters, one of the biggest disparities found between the two groups.

C2DE voters support higher taxes on unhealthy living, for example on fatty food, alcohol and cigarettes, but half as much as ABC1 voters.   

Around 4 in 10 C2DE voters believe we should cut the cost of motoring by reducing fuel duty and road tax, more than twice as much as ABC1 voters.   

 

Total

ABC1

C2DE

C2DE Swing

The TV License Fee should be abolished

53%

40%

68%

76%

There should be higher taxes on unhealthy living, for example on fatty food, alcohol and cigarettes  

31%

41%

20%

13%

Free town centre parking should be provided to those driving to work

30%

16%

46%

49%

We should cut the cost of motoring by reducing fuel duty and road tax  

28%

16%

42%

46%

There should be no import duties at all on the import of food and clothing  

24%

15%

34%

36%

Local authorities should introduce new charges on drivers that take their cars into busy towns and cities or park them there

-7%

-1%

-13%

-18%

Beer duty should be cut to encourage more people to visit pubs  

-10%

-17%

-3%

5%

Local authorities should be able set tobacco, alcohol, sugar and fuel taxes in their own areas

-30%

-38%

-19%

-20%



On government reform:  

"I worked for Walsall Council. I’d love to know what they spent their money on. I couldn’t work it out when I was there", young man, Walsall

More than 6 in 10 voters agree that we should move more central government offices and jobs outside of Central London. 

Almost three quarters of C2DE voters believe that all civil service jobs should be open to applicants without a university degree. 

Around 6 in 10 voters support reducing spending on foreign aid and reallocating money to other priority areas like the police, the NHS and schools, with this jumping to 72 per cent amongst C2DE voters. 

 

Total

ABC1

C2DE

C2DE Swing

All civil service jobs should be open to applicants without a university degree

65%

57%

73%

74%

Spending on foreign aid should be reduced and reallocated to other priority areas like the Police, the NHS and schools

64%

57%

72%

79%

We should move more Central Government offices and jobs outside of Central London

63%

64%

61%

63%

The Government should publish all details of spending decisions over £500, including who sanctioned the payments

52%

43%

63%

69%

Public sector holiday levels (other than for teachers) should be equalised with the private sector  

40%

37%

43%

44%

We should physically bring together local services, including councils and the NHS, into "public sector hubs" in one location

32%

32%

33%

33%

The government should open many more Grammar Schools across the country  

17%

16%

19%

25%

 

Commenting on the landmark polling, John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"Too many Westminster wonks waste time on patronising policy ideas which automatically assume people on modest incomes only want high taxes, hate business and are hankering for government handouts. For years, politicians have churned out these condescending and costly policies which mollycoddle the public and end up costing the very people they're trying to help a fortune in taxes.

"It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that people tend to be aspirational - they want a better life for themselves and their families, and they know that high taxes can get in the way of that dream. They understand that enterprise is a force for good, creating jobs and helping to improve they towns they live in. They know it's bad news for their communities when governments decide to punish British businesses with even higher taxes. Indeed, our research shows that working class people understand this better than the well-heeled professional classes.

"Clear, tangible tax cuts can be popular. As politicians gear themselves up for weeks of canvassing and door-knocking, they should keep things simple and offer to leave more money in the pockets of those who earned it, and trust them to make better lives for themselves, their families and communities."

 

TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contact:

James Roberts

Political Director, TaxPayers' Alliance
james.roberts@taxpayersalliance.com
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, and now with 80,000 supporters, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at www.taxpayersalliance.com.

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

  3. The polling was conducted for the TaxPayers' Alliance by Public First Ltd. Total sample size was 4,004 with fieldwork between 26 - 30 July 2019. The survey was carried out online. Link to polling data: http://www.publicfirst.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/TPA_Research_July.pdf