Budget Day is upon us and at 12.30, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will stand up in the House of Commons and make his annual statement. The newspapers and political programmes on TV and radio have been full of rumours, leaks and predictions of what will be said in the Budget. There will be wall-to-wall coverage across the news channels. Tomorrow’s papers, as were today’s and yesterday’s will be talking of little else. But what impact will it have on the public?
It takes even the sharpest minds, those that watch the statement and read the accompanying documents a good few days to work out what it all means. For most people in Britain only the headlines will get through, and even then it isn’t easy to work out who will be affected and how.
On Budget Day, as in much of politics, perception is key. It is therefore a concern for the Chancellor that 50% of the public think that it is the rich that will benefit most from today’s statement, and just 17% think those on low incomes will be helped the most. It will also be a worry that the public’s confidence in the government’s long term policies on the economy has fallen sharply from the highs enjoyed immediately after taking office.
However, there are also reasons for Mr Osborne to be cheerful, the public’s trust and confidence in managing the economy has not swung towards Labour. The Conservatives hold a lead over Labour as the party with the best policies on the economy, and only one in five people think Labour under Eds Miliband and Balls would do a better job of managing the economy than the current government. Our March Political Monitor also shows the public are evenly split in a choice between George Osborne and Ed Balls as to which man would make the best Chancellor – the exact same position as a year ago.
Despite the economy dominating the concerns of the British public and with little economic news that could inspire hope and comfort over the last year or so, Labour have not managed to pull away from the Conservatives in the polls. As Ed Miliband is struggling to get his own supporters to back him, the Conservatives are managing to stay in the game. Today’s Budget announcement alone is unlikely to dramatically shift the political landscape one way or another.