Nearly half of Britons think the Government should raise taxes and spend more on health and education, according to a new survey which shows public support for austerity is dropping.
The annual report on British social attitudes also showed that the country was at its most eurosceptic in decades after last year’s Brexit referendum.
A total of 48% backed increased taxes and spending – the highest proportion since 2004 – said the study carried out by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).
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Another 44% said the levels should remain the same and only 4% said they thought taxes and spending should be cut.
Image: Seven years of austerity are taking their toll on public support
Roger Harding, head of public attitudes at NatCen, said: “People’s tolerance for austerity is drying up, even if that means higher taxes.
“This leftwards tilt on tax and spend is matched by a long-running conservatism on national security and law and order.
“In all, people want a more active state that’s firm but fairer.”
The report found that most people favour a tough line in response to terror threats and are in favour of boosting security measures, sometimes at the expense of civil liberties.
The survey was carried out last year, before the recent spate of terror attacks in the country.
Image: Most Britons favour boosting security measures
In particular, it found:
:: 77% said the Government should be able to tap phones at a time of a suspected terrorist attack
:: 70% backed the use of random stop-and-search powers at times of a terror threat
:: 53% said the Government should be able to detain people without trial for “as long as they want” at a time of a suspected terrorist attack
:: 80% said the Government should have the right to keep people under video surveillance in public areas
:: 50% said the Government should have a right to monitor emails and internet communications
:: 60% think the Government should be allowed to collect information about anyone living in Britain without their knowledge.
Image: The country was at its most eurosceptic in the immediate aftermath of the referendum
On Brexit, the study found that 76% of people backed either leaving the EU or reducing its powers.
The figure marked a nine-point increase on the previous all-time high of 67% in 2012 and was up two percentage points since 2015.
“Britain emerged from the referendum far more sceptical about the EU than it had ever been previously,” said the report, which has been carried out since 1983.
“Whereas previously most eurosceptics said that Britain should stay in the EU while endeavouring to reduce its powers, by the time that the referendum was over the majority felt that we should leave,” it added.
Two-thirds of people surveyed also said they wanted all immigrants to speak good English, have good educational qualifications and offer work skills needed in Britain.
That figure was up from about half in 2002. In the last 15 years, the country has seen the number of immigrants rise, especially workers from eastern Europe who could come to the UK after their countries joined the EU in 2004.
Image: Record levels of people are Ok with same-sex relationships
The report also revealed a socially liberal country, with 64% finding that same-sex relationships are “not wrong at all”, up from 59% in the previous year.
On pre-marital sex, 75% found it is “not at all wrong”.
The 2016 British Social Attitudes survey consisted of 2,942 interviews between 13 July and 30 November.