Barely a week goes by without George Osborne hinting that he will abolish the 50p tax rate in the near future. On Saturday he told the Today programme: "I don't see that as a lasting tax rate for Britain because it's very uncompetitive internationally, and people frankly can move."
However, an exclusive poll by ICD for the New Statesman shows that the public take a different view. Asked if the 50p rate should be made permanent, 34 per cent said yes and 30 per cent said no (see graph). But asked if the starting threshold for the top rate should be reduced from £150,000 to £100,000, something that Ed Balls has suggested remains a possibility, 44 per cent said no and 37 per cent said yes.
However, the poll found overwhelming support for Balls's proposal of a temporary cut in VAT. Asked if the government should adopt this policy, 68 per cent said yes and 20 per cent said no (see graph). There is also widespread support for a permanent cut in VAT, with 65 per cent in favour and 18 per cent opposed.
Osborne has persistently described the 50p rate as "temporary" and the VAT increase as "permanent". But the public, it seems, takes the reverse view.
This exclusive poll for the New Statesman was carried out by ICD Research, powered by ID Factor, from 6-7 August 2011 and is based on a sample of 1,000 responses