POLITICIANS FAILING TO UNDERSTAND PEOPLES’ FINANCIAL CONCERNS AND NOT TRUSTED TO ADDRESS THEM – MAJOR PRE-ELECTION REPORT

  • comparethemarket.com’s Consumer Manifesto – a poll of more than 6,000 – finds more than a third of people (34%) feel poorer than they did at the last election (2015)
  • The top three personal finance priorities for the next Government are energy prices, income tax allowances and the cost of care for the elderly
  • 87% attribute feeling financially worse off due to policies implemented by the current Government
  • Over half of consumers (54%) do not believe that the next Government will have the ability to improve their financial situation
  • Only 31% of people think Theresa May understands their financial concerns, while 28% believe Jeremy Corbyn understands their personal finance worries

8 May 2017 – Consumers overwhelmingly believe that the main political parties and their leaders do not understand the financial anxieties of ordinary people and that the next Government will not have the ability to introduce measures to improve their financial situation, according to comparethemarket.com’s Consumer Manifesto, published today.

The research, based on a poll of more than 6,000 UK adults, found that more than a third of people (34%) feel worse off compared to the last election in May 2015. Almost nine in ten respondents (87%) believe that this is the fault of policies implemented by the current Government, with 47% stating the Government is to blame to “a large extent”. This sense of detachment between voters and those they elect to represent them, is reflected by the findings that:

  • Over half of consumers (54%) do not believe that the next Government will have the ability to introduce measures which will enhance personal financial health.
  • Nearly one in five respondents (19%) believe that their local MP has their best interests at heart.
  • Almost a quarter of people (23%) do not trust any of the major political parties to protect, or improve, their financial wellbeing.
  • Theresa May (31%) and Jeremy Corbyn (28%) are regarded only by a minority as able to understand “well” the financial concerns of ordinary people – and viewed by 42% and 45% respectively as understanding them ‘badly’.

Jesper With-Fogstrup, Director at comparethemarket.com, said:

“These findings show that no political party or leader has convinced the electorate that they understand their money worries. There is clearly work to be done in communicating how parties would improve people’s financial situation.

“One of the most striking aspects of this research is the clear sense of detachment that many people feel from those they elect to represent them. The majority of consumers feel the next Government, whoever is elected, will be unable to introduce measures which will improve their personal finances, whilst only a small minority think that the various party leaders understand the financial concerns of ordinary people.”

Party politics and personal finances

Whichever party takes power in Westminster on 8 June, the research indicates they will struggle to convince the electorate that they can introduce measures to improve their financial well-being. When asked which party is most trusted to introduce measures to protect or improve financial well-being, political distrust swings neither strongly to the left or right. A Conservative Government (33%) narrowly beats a Labour Government (27%) in terms of which would be most trusted to safeguard, or enhance, people’s personal financial situation.

Brexit Worries 

The general skepticism that, despite an apparently improving economy, political decision-making will end up having a positive impact on people’s wallets, may be a factor in growing pessimism around the impact of Brexit on personal finances. 45% of people believe they will be financially worse off as a result of Britain leaving the EU, with over a fifth (21%) saying they will be ‘significantly worse off’ – a more downbeat outlook to consumers’ views in 2015, when 35% said they would be worse off (and only 18% saying “significantly worse off”).

Jesper With-Fogstrup adds: 

“After two general elections in the past couple of years, an EU referendum, not to mention a referendum on Scottish independence, the UK public seems to be suffering from voter fatigue. For many, a snap vote seems one too many ballot boxes to tick. This is shown by the fact that 62% of people say that they do not want a second referendum on the terms of the EU exit. It appears to be a vote for no more referendums!”

Priorities for the next Government

More than a fifth (22%) of consumers said that preventing energy price hikes was their number one priority for the next Government. Energy price freezes were second on the list of priorities last time this research was undertaken in May 2015, just behind an increase in personal tax allowances, which has fallen to second place this year, with 18% listing an increase as their top priority.

Simplification of tax codes was the fourth highest priority behind increasing state aid in meeting elderly care costs (14%). Tax simplification was a top priority for 7% of people, with that number rising to over one in ten (12%) for 18 – 24 year olds.

Jesper With-Fogstrup comments:

“The past two years has been a tricky time for energy customers, particularly those floundering on Standard Variable Tariffs who have faced a series of price hikes from the Big Six and other providers. People are clearly worried by the cost of energy and any initiative which seeks to ease the burden of paying for gas and electricity will surely be welcomed by voters. A note of caution, however – the Conservatives’ well-intentioned price cap on energy is not necessarily the same as a freeze in energy price hikes. Indeed, they could be quite different. Depending on how it is implemented, there is a danger that a cap could have the opposite effect, with heightened levels of consumer inertia and reduced competition therefore pushing prices up across the board.

“Increasing state aid for elderly care ranks high up the list of people’s financial worries. The cost of care for the elderly is perceived as a national crisis; recent figures found that 1.2 million elderly people are not receiving the help they need, highlighting just how stretched carers are. With an increasingly aging population, issues such as elderly and healthcare have become key political battlegrounds, particularly given that the older you are, the more likely you are to vote. Our research makes clear that these are issues the public cares about and whoever inherits power in June, would be wise to take these views seriously.”