Generational divide over potential tax increase in UK

Dec 10, 2018
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A recent survey conducted by Populus shows there is a clear generational divide over the issue of whether to increase taxation to help fund the public sector, with under-45s being much less supportive than those aged over 45.

The results indicated that older people would favour raising taxes to fund public services, while younger adults would prefer volunteers to help ease the growing crisis in social care.

Overall, 41 per cent of the public believes taxes should increase to fund public services such as the NHS, while just 33 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds and even fewer (only 30 per cent) of those aged between 25 and 44 agree.

In contrast, the strongest backing came among those aged over 65 (54 per cent), 55-64 (46 per cent) and 45-54 (42 per cent).

Results revealed that only eight per cent of over-65s agreed that “we should cut taxes and reduce spending on public services” compared to 21 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds who think that this should happen.

Ed Cox, the RSA’s Director of Public Services and Communities, said: “The NHS can’t afford to keep mitigating our failure to invest in what leads to good health: a welfare system that promotes economic security; investment in early years, education and skills; and better quality jobs for all.”

It was clear from the poll that younger adults have very different priorities than people in older age groups. Mr Cox stressed: “Aside from a shared commitment to tackling inequality, there is neither a clear consensus on tax increases nor agreement on how any extra money is spent.

“The younger generations who’ll pay for increased spending see climate change and technological adaptation as greater challenges than the ageing society,” he added.

Less than a quarter of those aged 18-44 think that increasing taxation is the best solution, compared to over half (54 per cent) aged 65 and over; thus highlighting the chasm of opinion between age groups.

When asked which policy areas the Government should focus on, those aged 45 and over identified inequality, the ageing society and social isolation and mental health.

In comparison, those aged 45 and under had a different set of priorities; even though isolation was emphasised in their top three, the biggest area of interest was climate change (48 per cent), as well as, international relations and Brexit.

Mr Cox added that the findings showed that “traditional left-right politics is being flipped on its head, as under-45s back lower taxes and a smaller state, despite overwhelmingly voting Labour in the last election, while Conservative-leaning voters over-65 back higher taxes and spending.”

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