Voters back means testing child benefit but against new charges
THERE IS overwhelming support among voters for means testing child benefit, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll. However, the poll also reveals strong opposition to the Government’s plans to introduce a property tax and water charges next year.
It also shows Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton as the most popular of six high-profile Ministers whose satisfaction rating was measured in the survey. One of the issues on which Ms Burton will have to make a decision in advance of the budget is whether to try to make savings in the annual €2 billion bill for child benefit.
The poll showed there is a substantial majority in favour of means testing the payment. Asked for their views on the issue, 71 per cent expressed support for means testing, 18 per cent said child benefit should continue to be paid at the current rate, 8 per cent opted for a cut and just 2 per cent had no opinion.
There is no significant difference between the opinions of women and men on the topic, and people with children who qualify for benefit are only marginally more inclined to say the rate should remain unchanged. Even among people who benefit from the payment, 70 per cent are in favour of means testing. Labour Party voters are much more enthusiastic in their support for means testing than Fine Gael voters, but a sizeable majority of both sets of party supporters favour means testing.
The poll also shows strong opposition across the board to the Government’s plan to introduce a property tax and water charges next year. Asked for their views on a property tax, 66 per cent said it was a bad idea, 28 per cent said it was a good idea and 6 per cent had no view. Better-off AB voters are the most supportive of a property tax, with the poorest DE voters the most strongly opposed.
Fine Gael voters are considerably more strongly in favour of Government policy on a property tax than Labour voters. There is a similar pattern on water charges in terms of class and party support, although the opposition to this development is not as strong. A total of 60 per cent said water charges are a bad idea, with 35 per cent in support. The best-off are again most supportive of water charges, with poorer people opposed. Fine Gael supporters give solid backing to water charges but a clear majority of Labour voters are against. The youngest 18-24 age category are far more opposed to property tax and water charges than older people, who are more likely to be affected.
Asked for their views on how six senior Ministers are performing, Joan Burton comes out top with 44 per cent satisfied with her performance – she is the only Minister polled whose satisfaction rating exceeds her dissatisfaction rating – while Minister for Health James Reilly comes last, with 70 per cent dissatisfied with his performance.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan was the next lowest, followed by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.