Sunday 4 January 2009

Public think top earners aren't paying their fair share

In addition to a major new year interview with the PM, the Observer reports a new Fabian/YouGov poll, published in the Fabian Review next week, which suggests that public attitudes towards the rich have hardened following the financial crisis, with support for higher taxes for top earners and changes in the bonus culture.

The polling suggests that the government's new higher rate of tax and David Cameron's recent attacks on the culture of irresponsibility in the City may well strike a chord with the public.

Some more of the key findings of the poll are reported on the Fabian website.

Some snippets:

76% support the proposed 45p tax rate on earnings over £150,000 and 69% of the public would support a 50% tax rate on earnings over £250,000

70% believe that 'those at the top are failing to pay their fair share towards investment in public services' while only 19% agreed with the statement that taxes on high earners should be kept low so that ‘British companies can attract the talent they need to succeed’.

80% believe that bonuses should ‘reward long-term success rather than short-term performance’

70% believe that there should be employee representatives on renumeration committees which set executive pay.

55% believe that, if a company folds, executives should pay back their bonuses from the last two years.

87% of respondents thought that City bankers were overpaid, second only to premier league footballers at 96%, and some way ahead of lawyers, MPs and estate agents: 77% think that lawyers were overpaid; 71% thought that MPs were overpaid, and 55% thought that estate agents are overpaid.

The polling was carried out by YouGov between 28th November and 1st December.

The Fabian Society is currently carrying out a major research project on public attitudes to inequality, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as part of the Public Interest in Poverty Programme. We have been conducting a series of focus groups and deliberative workshops in this area, which has offered an opportunity to look in detail at whether and how the financial crisis and economic downturn have shifted attitudes and beliefs about inequality.

Louise Bamfield writes about some of the interim findings in the new Fabian Review, and the research will conclude later in 2009.

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