Only one in seven people trust Nick Clegg to successfully see Britain through the current economic crisis, a poll published on the second day of the Liberal Democrat conference has revealed.
The survey, conducted by ComRes for ITV News, showed that just 15 per cent of those asked trusted the deputy prime minister to handle the economy, compared to 60 per cent who did not.
In recent days much attention has focused on whether or not to scrap the 50p rate of income tax on earnings over £150,000 as a way of stimulating growth.
But speaking on Sky News on Monday, Clegg said the "broadest shoulders have to bear the biggest burden" in tough times and that it would be "incomprehensible" to many people if the government gave a tax cut to the rich.
Business secretary Vince Cable warned his party's activists on Monday that the economic situation facing the country was the "equivalent of war".
And Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb, a close ally of Clegg, said the public would reward the party for trying to fix the economy.
"Labour have a credibility problem on the economy," he told the BBC. "Us seeing it through properly is the right way to convince people they should support us."
ComRes also asked how Clegg had performed as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Only 24 per cent thought Clegg had proved himself to be a good leader, while 51 per cent thought he had not.
But it is not all bad news for the deputy prime minister, as only 28 per cent of people thought the Lib Dems would be more popular if they had a new leader, compared to 39 per cent who thought the party would do better if he stayed.
Senior figures in the party have been seeking to highlight Lib Dem successes in government as well as distancing themselves from, and in some cases attacking, their coalition partners.
The survey showed that the public was split over whether being part of a coalition with the Conservatives had allowed Lib Dems to influence policy, with 40 per cent believing they had and 39 per cent believing they had not.
On Sunday Lib Dem party president Tim Farron MP sought to reassure party members that Lib Dem ministers were exerting influence in Whitehall.
"We are a radical Liberal Party putting radical liberal politics into action and blocking Tory policies every day," he said.
But the poll revealed that 61 per cent thought the Tories had benefited more from the coalition than the Lib Dems, while only 18 per cent thought they had not.
ComRes interviewed 2002 adults online between 16th and 18th September 2011.
Suggest a correction