The exclusive Ipsos MORI survey for The Standard found 37 per cent of adults in Britain trust Sir Keir Starmer’s party most on this issue, compared to 27 per cent for the Tories, and eight per cent the Liberal Democrats.
The poll’s findings come as the Cabinet is split on whether to go ahead with the 1.25 percentage points increase in National Insurance contributions in the spring to raise £12 billion a year for the NHS and to tackle the social care crisis.
Pressed on the NI rise, Boris Johnson said on Thursday it was “absolutely vital” but stopped short of confirming it would happen in April as millions of families across Britain face a cost-of-living squeeze due also to higher inflation and energy bills set to soar.
The tax burden on the nation is being raised to the highest sustained level in peacetime, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, with billions more set to be raked in from higher Corporation Tax.
However, as Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak come under growing pressure from Tory MPs, who could decide the Prime Minister’s future within weeks, to delay the NI hike, the poll found that the Conservatives still lead Labour as most trusted to grow Britain’s economy, by 37 per cent to 31 per cent.
Mr Johnson’s party also has a marginal lead on handling the pandemic, 33 per cent to 29 per cent.
But on a string of other issues Labour is now ahead of the Tories including:
- On reducing the cost of living for individuals and their families (38 per cent to 21 per cent).
- “Levelling up” Britain (44 per cent to 14 per cent)
- Managing immigration (32 per cent to 23 per cent)
- Reducing crime (29 per cent to 25 per cent)
- Improving the NHS (45 per cent to 18 per cent)
- While on protecting the environment there is hardly a gap (17 per cent for Labour, 15 per cent the Conservatives), with the Greens ahead on 26 per cent.
Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said: “Over the last year, we have seen criticism of the Government’s performance on tax and spending steadily grow.
“Despite it all they do still keep a lead on the economy, although Labour is ahead on other current concerns such as the cost of living, the NHS and levelling-up.”
Voters are split on whether Labour is ready for government, 38 per cent agreeing and 40 per cent disagreeing, with an identical finding on whether Sir Keir Starmer is ready to be Prime Minister, a score better than for either Jeremy Corbyn or Ed Miliband.
For these two, there were consistent majorities who felt the party and leader were not ready to take the reins of power.
But only 28 per cent think the Government deserves to be re-elected, down four points since September, with 56 per cent disagreeing, up ten points.
* Ipsos MORI interviewed 1,059 adults aged 18+ between January 19 and 25. Data are weighted.