Voters are turning on the Government and Bank of England over the cost of living crisis, with almost one in three saying excessive public spending is “significantly” to blame for high inflation, according to a poll.
A survey of 1,500 people for The Telegraph found that 29 per cent believed soaring levels of government spending were more to blame for rising inflation than disruption arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and supply chain problems caused by the Covid pandemic.
The findings will fuel concerns among Tory MPs that the party is on course to face a seismic backlash over its handling of the economy as Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak face down demands for tax cuts.
Responding to the poll, one senior Conservative – who has not spoken publicly against Mr Johnson – said: “F---. That is bad.” The MP had previously believed that “the cost of living stuff hasn’t really hit the public yet”.
Ministers have acknowledged that the crisis was a major concern for voters in Tiverton and Honiton and in Wakefield, the seats lost by the Conservatives in by-elections last week.
Lord Frost, a former Cabinet minister, warned that the Government has adopted a high spend, high tax model and called for a “more Conservative” approach.
On Saturday, Mr Johnson said: “I’m focused on what we can do to sort out the cost of living, sort out growth, get this country more productive.”
On Friday, Mr Sunak insisted he was “determined to continue working to tackle the cost of living”, including delivering existing plans to lift the threshold at which people start paying National Insurance.
In the poll, conducted by Redfield and Wilton Strategies, 59 per cent of people said they disapproved of Mr Johnson’s performance on the economy – up almost 20 percentage points from an equivalent survey seven months ago.
Overall, 54 per cent of people said the Prime Minister should resign – up from 46 per cent in March.
Mr Johnson’s handling of the invasion of Ukraine was the only policy area in which more people approved of his performance than disapproved of it. But 63 per cent said his response had not changed their view of him.
Meanwhile, 49 per cent said the Bank of England was not doing all it could to bring down inflation, compared to 16 per cent who said it was.
Amid calls for the Bank to increase the base interest rate, more than half – 53 per cent – of people said being able to save more profitably, a benefit of higher interest rates, was more important to them than being able to borrow more cheaply, an upside of lower interest rates.
Sixty-three per cent said their financial situation had worsened compared to a year ago, while 57 per cent said they had reduced spending on groceries in response to rising costs.
Philip van Scheltinga, the director of research at Redfield and Wilton Strategies, said: “The more inflation endures, the more voters have begun to ask why the Government is not doing more to fix the problem.
“Having tracked this issue for The Telegraph over a number of months, our latest polling shows that voters do not accept that the Government is blameless when it comes to inflation and the rising cost of living.
“If the Government assumes these issues will go away on its own, without serious concerted action on their part, they will be sleepwalking into a catastrophic election defeat.”
Asked directly about the cost of living crisis, 44 per cent of respondents said it was “preventable” while 41 per cent said it was inevitable.
Asked which of five factors they would blame the most for high inflation, 29 per cent chose excessive spending by the Government, while 21 per cent opted for disruption caused by the war in Ukraine, 17 per cent opted for supply chain problems caused by the pandemic and seven per cent said low interest rates were most to blame.