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George Osborne’s approval ratings have never been lower

George Osborne at the Treasury Select Committee House of Commons. Source: The Independent
Osborne in front of the Treasury Select Committee. Photo Credits: www.theguardian.com
Osborne in front of the Treasury Select Committee. Photo Credits: www.telegraph.co.uk

According to an Ipsos MORI’s poll published yesterday, the Chancellor’s satisfaction ratings equal his worst ever following last week’s Budget announcements. The poll results came in on the same day that Osborne was questioned by the Treasury Select Committee. 

The Ipsos MORI’s Political Monitor shows that Osborne’s satisfaction ratings have fallen since last month. Of the 1,023 adults sampled from the 19th-22nd of this month, 60% said they are dissatisfied with Osborne’s performance. Only 27% of participants claimed they were satisfied, which equals his worst approval ratings since March 2013. However, Osborne still receives the backing of 58% of Conservative supporters according to the Political Monitor.

Approval of the recent Budget announcements also scored very low satisfaction rates according to the poll. Only 13% of participants were satisfied with the cut to disability benefits compared to 84% who were dissatisfied with it. This is a contrast to the 69% who supported the sugar tax.

It seems that the Chancellor’s popularity ratings have fallen since this time last year. An article in The Guardian dated from March 2015, referred to Mr Osborne as a “popular politician” after a poll conducted by the newspaper found that 43% of participants thought he was a “good chancellor”. The article explained that the Chancellor’s approval ratings are “centrally a reflection of how people are feeling about the economy”. This could suggest that the public were more satisfied with the state of the economy this time last year compared to its current state.

Evidently, Osborne’s Budget proposal to make cuts of up to £4.4bn to disabled benefits is one of the main factors that has led to the fall in his popularity. The proposal not only caused tension within the Conservative Party, but has also damaged his chances of succeeding David Cameron. In his resignation letter from the Cabinet, former Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith claimed that the proposed cuts to the disabled are a “compromise too far”. This seems to be an opinion that is being reflected by those taking part in recent polls. Even Conservative colleagues have commented that Osborne’s chances of succeeding Cameron in future have been severely weakened after the Budget proposals were unveiled.

Although the backlash the Chancellor has faced due to the proposed cuts to disabled benefits led him to abandon these initial plans, he is still yet to apologise for his actions. Despite pressure from Labour MPs in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Osborne refused to say sorry over plans to make cuts to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Instead he told MPs, “Where we’ve made a mistake, where we’ve got things wrong, we listen and learn. That is precisely what we have done.”

Osborne stuck to a similar attitude when he appeared in front of the Treasury Select Committee in the Commons yesterday. When quizzed by Labour MP, Rachel Reeves, about whether he would be forced to make future cuts to benefits in order to meet his “welfare cap,” Osborne refused to give a solid answer. Instead the Chancellor claimed he has “no plans” for more cuts to take place, but did not specifically rule them out. Reeves responded to Osborne’s answer by saying, “I think anybody listening to this will have to conclude that it is entirely possible that you will make further cuts to welfare in the autumn statement.”

If Osborne wants to up his future approval ratings, it appears that he must start by apologising for the proposed PIP cuts and by giving clearer answers about any potential welfare cuts that could be made to balance the books.