What Lib Dem members think of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement announcments

by Stephen Tall on December 13, 2012

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 500 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Lib Dem members back every single measure — but split over cuts to real-terms benefits

LDV asked: Do you support or oppose the following measures in the Autumn Statement:

Increasing the basic income tax threshold by a further £235 to £9,440

    Strongly support 76%
    Support 21%
    97% Total Support
    Oppose 2%
    Strongly oppose 0%
    2% Total Oppose
    Don’t know 0%

No surprise there — overwhelming support for the party’s top economic priority in 2010, now being implemented in Coalition.

Cutting main rate of corporation tax by extra 1% to 21% from April 2014

    Strongly support 16%
    Support 44%
    60% Total Support
    Oppose 21%
    Strongly oppose 10%
    31% Total Oppose
    Don’t know 8%

Narrower, but still 2:1 support, from Lib Dem members for a measure more commonly associated with the blue half of the Coalition. The main corporation tax rate was 28% when the Coalition came in; it will be 21% by the end of this Parliament.

Cancelling the 3p-a-litre increase in fuel duty planned for next January

    Strongly support 27%
    Support 36%
    63% Total Support
    Oppose 22%
    Strongly oppose 12%
    33% Total Oppose
    Don’t know 4%

Almost two-thirds support for the latest delay on fuel tax hikes, not least due to concerns for rural communities, the significant minority opposition from Lib Dem members reflecting concerns about the environmental impact.

Increasing most working-age benefits by 1%, below the rate of inflation, for each of the next three years

    Strongly support 12%
    Support 36%
    48% Total Support
    Oppose 27%
    Strongly oppose 19%
    46% Total Oppose
    Don’t know 7%

The most controversial measure in the Autumn Statement: the Tories had wanted a complete freeze, the agreed 1% annual increase reflecting the compromise position reached with the Lib Dems. But this was the issue which, unsurprisingly, has most divided members.

Increasing child benefit by 1%, below the rate of inflation, for two years from April 2014

    Strongly support 11%
    Support 40%
    51% Total Support
    Oppose 27%
    Strongly oppose 15%
    42% Total Oppose
    Don’t know 7%

Another controversial measure, although on this one there’s a narrow-but-clear majority in favour of a real-terms cut to child benefit — perhaps reflecting the fact that this benefit isn’t means-tested.

Reducing lifetime pension relief allowance from £1.5m to £1.25m – with the annual allowance cut from £50,000 to £40,000 – from 2014-15

    Strongly support 46%
    Support 37%
    83% Total Support
    Oppose 6%
    Strongly oppose 3%
    9% Total Oppose
    Don’t know 8%

Significant support among Lib Dem members for reducing the tax benefits for those higher-rate taxpayers saving towards their pensions.

Increasing the ISA contribution limit to £11,520 from next April

    Strongly support 27%
    Support 46%
    73% Total Support
    Oppose 11%
    Strongly oppose 4%
    15% Total Oppose
    Don’t know 12%

Three-quarters of members also back limiting ISA tax-free savings limits.

Implementing the School Teachers’ Review Body’s recommendation to allow individual schools to set pay in line with performance

    Strongly support 17%
    Support 33%
    50% Total Support
    Oppose 17%
    Strongly oppose 18%
    35% Total Oppose
    Don’t know 15%

A bare majority of members back Michael Gove’s proposal, announced in the Autumn Statement, for headteachers to be able to set pay-rates for teachers on the basis of performance.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Over 500 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 7th and 11th December.
  • 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 offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.