What Lib Dem members think about the Coalition’s spending and welfare cuts

by Stephen Tall on October 2, 2011

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members responded, and we’ve been publishing the results in recent days.

Party members back Coalition spending cuts and welfare cuts by 2:1 majorities

LDV asked: Do you think the government has on the whole made the right decisions or the wrong decisions about where spending cuts should be made?

  • 59% – Right decisions
  • 31% – Wrong decisions
  • 10% – Don’t know

By a 2:1 majority, then, Lib Dem members believe that the Coalition has made the right choices on spending cuts. However, a significant minority, almost one-third of our sample of party members, disagrees.

LDV asked: Thinking about the cuts the government is making to welfare benefits, do you think these cuts are too large, not large enough, or are they getting the balance about right?

  • 35% – Cuts to benefits are too large
  • 52% – The balance is about right
  • 7% – Cuts to benefits are not large enough
  • 6% – Don’t know

When asked specifically about the welfare cuts, there is a slight shift against the view that the Coalition has judged it right. However, that still leaves a slim majority believing that the government, including the Lib Dem minister of state Steve Webb (who defended the Coalition’s cuts here), has judged it well — and indeed a small minority of party members who believe the Lib/Con Coalition should have gone further.

And Lib Dems back housing benefit cap by 2:1 margin also

LDV asked: Do you support or oppose putting a maximum limit of £400 a week on the amount of housing benefit people can claim, even if this means people are forced to move house if they live in an area where the rent is high?

  • 61% – Support
  • 31% – Oppose
  • 8% – Don’t know

This has been one of the most controversial of the Coalition’s proposed budget cuts. Many on the party’s social liberal wing are concerned, but that concern also extends to economic liberals such as Centre Forum’s Tim Leunig, who wrote in opposition to the proposal on LDV here. However, party members back the cut by a 2:1 margin. This is a closer result than November 2010, when we first asked about the issue but with a differently worded question: then 71% supported the housing benefit cap.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 550 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 11th and 15th September.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll