Trust In David Cameron And George Osborne Hits New Low

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Voters have lost faith in David Cameron and George Osborne
Voters have lost faith in David Cameron and George Osborne

Public trust in David Cameron and George Osborne's handling of the economy has slumped to a new low in the wake of a series of controversies over measures in last month's Budget.

The survey, by ComRes for ITV News, showed a clear majority (53%) do not now have faith in the prime minister's ability to steer the UK through turbulent economic times.

That is a six-point jump on last month and the proportion expressing confidence slumped five points to 31% - putting the gap between the two at 22 points, equalling his worst-ever score, the Press Association reported.

After rows over the "granny tax" reduction in OAPs' tax allowances, VAT on pasties, the impact of tax credit cuts on families and the scrapping of the 50p top rate of income tax, the chancellor fares worse still.

As many as 60% do not trust him with the nation's purse strings (up eight points on last month) while those expressing confidence stood at only around one in five (21%), down from 25%.

That net score of -39 for Mr Osborne is much worse than his previous low of -30, in July last year.

The Conservative pair may draw comfort, however, from the apparent failure of Labour's team of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls to seize the initiative - with both still trailing their coalition counterparts.

The Opposition leader's approval rating rose just two points to 18% while the shadow chancellor was stalled at 15%.

ComRes interviewed 2,028 adults online between 30 March and 1 April.

The survey results came on the same day that the prime minister dismissed claims that families with children will lose £511 a year on average under new tax and benefit changes - insisting the Tories were the party of "the strivers, the grafters, the family raisers".

Cameron said he did not accept the figures produced by a respected think-tank which sparked warnings from anti-poverty campaigners that the start of Easter weekend would be "Bad Friday" for a million or more households.

And he took to the local election trail promising a "flat-out, full-throttle fight

"What we're doing today has laid the foundations for a sounder, stronger economy."

He went on: "We need a flat-out, full-throttle fight.

"That's what we need to tell people: that this is a government that's looking at the horizon, not at the headlines, that cares about working for the long-term good, not short-term popularity, that works in the national interest, not the party interest."

Amid signs Labour is not capitalising on the difficulties, including its shock defeat to Respect's George Galloway in the Bradford West by-election, Cameron launched a withering attack on the Labour-run Welsh government.

It was presiding over "a complete and utter shambles" in the NHS and letting pupils fall behind English colleagues by "clinging on to old, failed, stale ideologies" in education, he said.

"While all this is happening, Welsh children slip further and further behind in the international rankings," he said.

"Against other developed countries they come 30th for science, 38th for reading, 40th for maths - below average across the board - unlike any of the other nations in the UK.

"You'd think this called for some real soul-searching, some real ambition, but you know what the Welsh education minister said? That he didn't expect any "real improvement" by the next rankings - a whole three years later.

"This is nothing less than a national scandal.

"It might be the political culture in Wales just to go along with the status quo and not rock the boat but we've got to be bolder than that."

Welsh Labour described the PM's comments as "offensive smears".

Torfaen Assembly Member Lynne Neagle said: "Unlike the Tories in England, Welsh Labour in government has worked with the teaching professions to implement successful change.

"That's why we don't have league tables. That's why we've abolished SATs, introduced the Foundation Phase and created a skill-based curriculum.

"We oppose the Tory obsession for a model of education that's driven by antagonism and competition. It's why we've rejected academies and so-called free schools.

"Welsh Labour has maintained faith in the comprehensive model of education because it delivers for all our children.

"That's what the people of Wales voted for in the Assembly elections last May. We have a mandate from the people for our policies - David Cameron doesn't."