What Lib Dem members think about the Coalition’s spending and welfare cuts

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members responded, and we’ve been publishing the results in recent days.

Party members back Coalition spending cuts and welfare cuts by 2:1 majorities

LDV asked: Do you think the government has on the whole made the right decisions or the wrong decisions about where spending cuts should be made?

  • 59% – Right decisions
  • 31% – Wrong decisions
  • 10% – Don’t know

By a 2:1 majority, then, Lib Dem members believe that the Coalition has made the right choices on spending cuts. However, a significant minority, almost one-third of our sample of party members, disagrees.

LDV asked: Thinking about the cuts the government is making to welfare benefits, do you think these cuts are too large, not large enough, or are they getting the balance about right?

  • 35% – Cuts to benefits are too large
  • 52% – The balance is about right
  • 7% – Cuts to benefits are not large enough
  • 6% – Don’t know

When asked specifically about the welfare cuts, there is a slight shift against the view that the Coalition has judged it right. However, that still leaves a slim majority believing that the government, including the Lib Dem minister of state Steve Webb (who defended the Coalition’s cuts here), has judged it well — and indeed a small minority of party members who believe the Lib/Con Coalition should have gone further.

And Lib Dems back housing benefit cap by 2:1 margin also

LDV asked: Do you support or oppose putting a maximum limit of £400 a week on the amount of housing benefit people can claim, even if this means people are forced to move house if they live in an area where the rent is high?

  • 61% – Support
  • 31% – Oppose
  • 8% – Don’t know

This has been one of the most controversial of the Coalition’s proposed budget cuts. Many on the party’s social liberal wing are concerned, but that concern also extends to economic liberals such as Centre Forum’s Tim Leunig, who wrote in opposition to the proposal on LDV here. However, party members back the cut by a 2:1 margin. This is a closer result than November 2010, when we first asked about the issue but with a differently worded question: then 71% supported the housing benefit cap.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 550 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 11th and 15th September.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
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This entry was posted in LDV Members poll.


  • The cap is a very small part of the changes to housing benefit the govt is implementing. Far more wide-reaching and destructive is the reduction in LHA to the 30th percentile of local rents. This will undoubtedly force large numbers of people to move and an increase in homelessness. We are already seeing a rise in rates of homelessness after years of fails. The problem will get much worse as the govt brings forward it’s plans. I’m not sure what the point is of surveying the opinions of members if you ignore the substance of the coalition’s plans and just ask about the one small populist element of what they are doing on housing benefit.

  • A thoroughly depressing statistic.

  • I completed this survey and, quite frankly, I do not believe the results quoted!

    I am surely not the only Lib Dem who thinks exactly the opposite to the supposed 2:1 majority!

    My opinion – the cuts are too large, too fast and aimed at the wrong people!

    On the capping of HB – we are talking about expensive areas to live and work such as London. You just cannot expect people to move out of London in order to find cheaper housing. If they are expected to travel back and forth to the same jobs in London on less money, you are not living in the real world. Apart from that – you cannot suddenly “magic” jobs in cheaper areas or school places in cheaper areas just so that HB may be capped.

    If you get everyone who lives in London to work in the service industries to move out, the service industry will collapse.

    What I did say was that you have got to tackle the unscrupulous landlords how, because people’s HB is being paid directly to them, the Landlords, they are racking up the rent costs as high as they can get them. They make a very rich living out of raking in hundreds of tenants’ Housing Benefits but don’t maintain the properties! It’s a disgrace!

    Pay HB direct to the benefit claimant so that they may be responsible themselves for paying rent to landlords. It would soon stop the great landlord rip-off! They should be the targets not the claimants!

  • David Allen 3rd Oct '11 - 2:40pm


    I think we have to remember that the questions in this survey have been asked very carefully!

    “LDV asked: Do you think the government has on the whole made the right decisions or the wrong decisions about where spending cuts should be made?”

    Well now, someone like Alastair Darling, who would have supported somewhat more than half of the Tory cuts, would presumably have felt compelled to say “on the whole the right decisions”. There would be no space for him to add that he wanted to minimise rather than maximise the cuts, and that he thought the Tory cuts generally went too far and too fast. No doubt quite a number of Lib Dems have ended up in the “on the whole the right decisions” camp – in an equally misleading way.

  • David – I know the questions were asked carefully but the fact that they were only asked of the LDV readership of whom only 550 responded, this is hardly a “representative view” of the Lib Dem membership as a whole! I would defy anyone to say that it is!

    I’m afraid surveys such as this one are totally meaningless in the wider context of the Party membership. They only give “a view” of some of the readers of LDV – ergo, not fully representative but only of a minority group within the Party whole.

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