Half UK population now back tax rises to increase public spending, finds study

Almost half of Britons think that the Government should hike taxes and increase spending according to a major study of social attitudes. Picture by Yui Mok/PA Wire
Almost half of Britons think that the Government should hike taxes and increase spending according to a major study of social attitudes. Picture by Yui Mok/PA Wire

Almost half of Britons think the Government should raise taxes and increase spending, according to a major study of social attitudes.

The 48% who backed increased taxes and spending is the highest proportion to support such measures since 2004, according to the British Social Attitudes report.

Just 4% said they wanted to see taxes and spending on health, education and welfare cut, while 44% said the levels should remain the same.

The survey, carried out before the wave of terror atrocities in London and Manchester, also found support for measures aimed at boosting security at the expense of civil liberties.

Some 53% said that the Government should be able to detain people without trial for "as long as they want" in times of terrorist attack, although that figure is down from 64% 10 years ago, while 41% said the authorities should not have that right.

More than three-quarters (77%) said the Government should be able to tap people's phones at a time of a terrorist threat with just 16% against; 70% backed the use of random stop and search powers, while 24% said those powers should not be available.

Some 80% said the Government should have the right to keep people under video surveillance in public areas, with 14% against.

But there was less support for monitoring emails and internet communications - 50% supported the Government's right to do that, with 43% opposed.

Roger Harding, head of public attitudes at the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) said: "People's tolerance for austerity is drying up, even if that means higher taxes.

"This leftwards tilt on tax and spend is matched by a long-running conservatism on national security and law and order.

"In all, people want a more active state that's firm but fairer."

:: The 2016 British Social Attitudes survey consisted of 2,942 interviews with a representative, random sample of adults in Britain between July 13 and November 30, 2016.