A majority of voters (60%) believe that the Government is right to raise taxes and cut spending to bring down Britain's state deficit, according to a survey released today.
Cuts in public spending were favoured by 49% of those taking part in the poll for BBC World Service as the best way of reducing Government debt, compared to 36% who preferred tax hikes.
But there was strong opposition to cuts in specific public services like the armed forces, support for senior citizens, education and healthcare.
Some 82% opposed reductions in spending on health and education, 80% were against cuts in support for the elderly and 66% said they did not want to see the military budget lose out.
Meanwhile, some 60% said they supported continued Government stimulus spending to bolster economic recovery.
But backing for further financial support for banks along the lines of the bailouts of recent years had dropped to 37%, with 61% opposed.
The poll appeared to indicate that voters believe there are significant amounts of money to be saved without affecting frontline services by cutting wasteful spending.
Asked what proportion of each pound raised in taxes was wasted on activities which did not reflect the “interests and values of British people”, the average estimate was 46p — or almost half of the total tax take.
The survey was undertaken by international polling firm GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, as part of a 26-nation study.
PIPA's director Steven Kull said: “Although Britons generally accept the idea of debt reduction, the coalition faces the problem|of a lack of confidence in Westminster. As long as citizens think large amounts of public money are being spent in ways that do not serve the public interest, they are going to resist increasing taxes and cuts to specific programs they do think serve them.”