Voters will back the Tories in a future election, ministers insisted, despite polls showing the party slipped behind Labor in the wake of the government’s welfare tax increases.
A YouGov survey of voters’ intentions this week showed the Tories had fallen behind Labor for the first time since January, at the height of the third wave of the pandemic.
Support for the Tories fell five percentage points to 33 percent, while Labor support rose one point to 35 percent, according to the poll.
The Tories’ fall has been attributed to the government’s plans to introduce a 2.5% tax hike this week to pay for its NHS funding program and welfare reforms.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said, despite the poll result, he believed voters would always ‘reward’ Tories in the next election for making a welfare decision which he said was designed to “protect the long-term national interest”.
Mr Dowden told Sky the elections were “in some time,” adding that when it comes to voting, the electorate will see “we finally have, after many governments have previously dodged this challenge of the social protection, the Prime Minister finally did something about this “.
The culture secretary added that he “hated” the imposition of taxes, but that the alternative was more borrowing which “would burden” future generations.
According to the government’s own analysis, the proposed tax hike to pay for the investment in health could mean an additional burden on those “just managing financially”, whose incomes are expected to decline.
In the 2022 to 2023 tax year, a person earning an average base rate taxpayer income of £ 24,100 would have to pay an additional £ 180, and a person earning an average higher base rate taxpayer income of £ 67,100 would pay an additional £ 715.
More bad news for Downing Street, the poll showed voters no longer viewed the Tories as the low-tax party, with 59% saying they “don’t care about keeping taxes low” and only 22% say they do.
This is compounded by the belief among voters that despite injecting £ 36bn into the NHS over the next three years, 53% of voters do not believe the Tories care about the healthcare system.
A source from Whitehall said I the Tories were “relaxed” about the poll, even though it showed the party to be at its lowest point since the 2019 general election.
“It’s not ideal, but there is certainly no panic. We are years away from a general election, ”the source said.