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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt stands by 10 Downing St, next to text which says "this is not working, I am struggling with everything."

Nov 23rd, 2023

‘A drop in the ocean’: Voters’ verdict on Autumn Statement as tax cut fails to address energy fears

By Matthew McGregor

The chancellor’s Autumn Statement has failed to win over the country – with tax cuts unable to stack up against rising prices and energy costs ignored. That’s according to a panel of voters, surveyed by pollster JL partners in the hours after Jeremy Hunt’s speech.

The rapid response voter panel study suggests many people feel the impact of National Insurance reductions “wiped out” by the cost of living crisis. Carried out by JL Partners in the hours that followed the speech, the research uses a pioneering update to traditional snap polling to poll same-day qualitative reactions to breaking news.  

And the results it delivered were stark. Whilst some pensioners said they felt they’d been supported, 2019 Conservative voters said they were turning away from the party, with one saying: “the damage has been done”.

The researchers told us that even those who said they supported the Chancellor’s measures, felt they were “a drop in the ocean”, and said the cost of living crisis “swamped” any impact of these measures on voters when it came to deciding who to vote for.

Jeremy Hunt insists his plan for the economy is working – but this panel shows voters say it isn’t, it’s as simple as that. People know their lives have got worse: they can’t pay their energy bills, they’re struggling to afford food, and the Government isn’t doing enough to help. The Chancellor is telling people they shouldn’t believe what they can see with their own eyes – they are worse off and things aren’t getting better. 

The Chancellor will be hoping headline grabbing tax cuts will be enough to distract from the biggest fall in living standards since the 1950s  – but this real-time response from our panel of voters, from different walks of life and different political persuasions, shows people aren’t convinced.

When asked what their most pressing financial problem is, many voters mention energy prices. Yet throughout this statement, the Chancellor spoke about the energy crisis as if it was over – with no support, and not a single mention of the rising Ofgem price cap – and the disappointment from his own voters, and the whole country, comes across clearly.

Here are a selection of the results:

Asked: “How does your financial situation now compare to how it was one year ago? If it has changed, what has made it better or worse?”

A 2019 Conservative voting academic in his 30s from Northamptonshire said: “With the increasing costs of everyday items, energy and fuel, I am worse off than I was a year ago. I’ve cut all unnecessary expenditure and still actively look to cut costs where possible.”

A retired 2019 Labour voter in his 60s from London said: “It’s pretty much the same, wages have increased slightly but bills have Increased by a lot.”

With the Ofgem price cap set to rise on Thursday, voters were asked for their reaction to there being no specific measures to help those struggling with energy bills:

A cleaner in her 40s from Manchester, who voted Conservative in 2019, said: “I feel more needs to be done for households and energy as prices are still expensive.”

A retired teacher in her 70s from Aldershot, who voted Conservative in 2019, said: “As energy prices are still high I think he should have extended it.”

Asked if this Autumn statement had addressed the financial challenges facing their household:

A Health and Safety officer from Gravesend in his 60s, who voted Conservative in 2019, said: “No. Cost of living outways any benefits gained from statement.”

A male academic in his 30s from Northamptonshire, who voted Conservative in 2019 said: “It will help to a degree but on my opinion does not go far enough. We need action taking on the price of food and energy which are essential to live. “

Asked for their reaction to Jeremy Hunt’s statement “our plan for the British Economy is working”:

A female lab technician from Grimsby in her 50s, who voted Conservative in 2019, said: “They messed it up in the first place so big deal if they have been able to normalise it somewhat.”

A female hospitality worker in her 20s from Nottingham, who voted Conservative in 2019, said: “I think it is working but the cost of living needs to be addressed. Wages need to go up, as other living costs do. And mortgages need to be extended.”

A full time mum from Southampton, in her 40, said: “This is not working. I am struggling with everything”.

Asked whether the 1% cut to National Insurance would affect whether they would vote Conservative at the next General Election:

An academic in his 30s from Northamptonshire, who voted Conservative in 2019, said: “Too much damage has been done, I have voted Conservative all my life but could not go through another Conservative led government. The past few years have been a total shambles. Time to allow others to try.


The JL Partners/38 Degrees Rapid Response Voter Panel was used to ask a sample of 100 UK adults online to share their instantaneous reaction to breaking news. In an update on traditional focus groups, JL Partners ask people to explain their views and dig underneath the surface of support or opposition. The sample is collected using web-intercept polling in accordance with MRS and BPC guidelines and data tables are available shortly after publication.

For more information, to see more of the responses, or to arrange an interview, please contact press@38degrees.org.uk

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